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Frustrating Experiments with HDR

HDR version

Original {the middle of the bracketed set}

HDR version

original {the middle of the bracketed set}

Sirmione, Italy

 When we were in Italy last October, I bracked a LOT of my photographs {took three photographs at different exposures} with the thought that I would attempt some HDR images {HDR = High Dynamic Range} when we returned. Where better to find interesting textures? In a nutshell, you take photos at different exposures and "combine" them to get a deeper texture and depth.

So I FINALLY googled reference sites for HDR and played with the HDR functionality in Photoshop. I found the best tutorial at Photoshop Cafe. But still I would like to thoroughly understand the various sliders and levels, the optimum order to use them, how they interact. I like to understand what I am doing so that I can work to improve. Right now the outcome is too crisp for my liking. And some of the bracketed sets just mix too intensely and you can't see much of anything.

I've shared the middle of each bracketed set {minimally processed in PS} along with the HDR version. 

So I am frustrated but I will keep trying and keep researching. 

What experiments have frustrated you lately?

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Reader Comments (6)

I haven't played with HDR just yet, and I like to have a little more control over post processing than it sound like that allows you. I've been using Radlab a bit lately and love all the variety of actions and levels at which you can use them. It's really fun to play with! You can find it at

07.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Warren

I agree with you about HDR! ick!

Just about every machine or technique has me saying bad words at first. Sometimes I get through the rough parts and sometimes the item in question gets thrown out the window.

07.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Wow, I've never heard of this. Lately, I've been shooting in RAW and fully editing the images myself. It has made SUCH a difference. However, my computer monitor needs to be calibrated, because photos look different on my iphone and other computers. I do feel like it's made my photos look more professional, but I still have a lot to learn.

07.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarly Rogers

Even though you didn't like it, could you link to the tutorial?

I recently (last night!) played with a couple of free PS actions for HDR. Not sure what I think yet, but I ordered a few prints so I can really see what they look like without the monitor-factor.

{Tammy}: Sunny, Sorry that I left out the link to the tutorial. The one I found most useful was at Photoshop Cafe.

07.19.2013 | Unregistered Commentersunny

I think your issue stems with the fact that your mid range capture already has a nice lot of contrast - in the posts you shared.
HDR images and bracketed exposures work best when there is a really diverse amount of exposure at one end of the spectrum versus the other. What you are trying to do with HDR and bracketed exposures is pull out all the tonal range from darks to brights and balance the mid tones.
ie. lots of dark shadows, say in a church or architectural image and then bright light and sky windows which get lost if you expose for the darker bits and then the HDR balances it all out. If that makes sense.
You are on the right track but need to use the technique on an image that really has lots of darks and lights.

{Tammy}: Marie, Thank you a million times over! I had been thinking that deeply textured images would work best, for some reason, and now I will consider your recommendations and review my shots for better targets for HDR.

07.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Thanks so much for the link! I appreciate Marie's comment as well...I hadn't thought of that.

I am having fun with your blog! :)

07.20.2013 | Unregistered Commentersunny

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