Is HDR Imaging the Future of Photography?

July 17 2008 / by niksipolins
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

With all the technology growth in fields like space travel and gene mapping, isn’t it about time photography took a real step forward? HDR or High Dynamic Range Imaging promises to do exactly that quite literally democratizing the production of digital images.

High Dynamic Range Imaging, the practice of ‘bracketing’, or combining in Photoshop, a properly exposed image with both underexposed and overexposed versions of the same image, creates stunning, surreal photographs.

The above landscape shot of NYC’s skyline at night is perhaps the most well known example of HDR Imaging. Yes, it is NYC. No it is not a CG promotional image of Gotham City for The Dark Knight (though it certainly could be). It is merely 3 photographs, taken on a tripod at different exposures, and last year it won 2nd place in Wikimedia Commons’ Picture of the Year Competition.

I know that FutureBlogger isn’t exactly a photography site, but this imaging technique shows real promise in putting professional quality photography into the hands of the masses.

While this practice may seem daunting to all but a few highly experienced photogs, it is not as complicated as it looks. Many entry level Digital SLR’s already come equipped with automatic HDR modes (just look in your menus), and as shooting time lag (time between shots) continues to decrease, and on-board camera processors continue to speed up, HDR imaging could eventually become something your camera does for you automatically.

In-Camera HDR would eliminate underexposed shots by automatically taking the bracketing shots for you, and this could happen within a few micro-seconds of your initial shot, eliminating the need for a tripod. An on-board bracketing algorithm would eliminate the need for time-consuming manual bracketing in Photoshop. (cont.)

Automatic HDR Imaging would be the end of dark or blurry low-light shots, and would mark the beginning of the true democratization of digital imaging. Anyone with a digital SLR and an eye for composition could contend with professional photo-journalists and artists (and their prohibitively expensive cameras). As ‘pro-sumer’ digital SLRs and point and shoots increase in technological sophistication and decrease in price, the future of digital imaging is looking brighter every day.

Image credits:

NYC HDR by Paulo Barcellos Jr.

HDR Image Gallery

HDR Tutorial Guide Round-Up

Comment Thread (3 Responses)

  1. I just recently found out about this kind of imagery – forgive me, I was in a coma for two years. Here’s a great link to helping you create your own HDR images. http://www.hackaday.com/2008/06/30/create-your-own-hdr-images/

    Posted by: John Heylin   July 17, 2008
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  2. HDR is a digital exclusive that when used right, can create some surreal artsy images you cannot get any other way. But lately there has been a lot of BAD hdr images, people taking pictures of their dog or car and putting plain bad HDR on it and posting hundreds of such pictures on the web.

    Perhaps I’m a traditionalist, but I have gone to digital, and now have switched back to film because of the discipline and cheap full frame it offers. Although nothing can beat digital for on-the-go photos and especially photojournalism. My photo editor job was much easier thanks to digital.

    HDR has its uses, and there will always be bad and good images. Cheers to technology, but I’m sticking with my film SLR and medium format for the time being.

    Posted by: jcchan   July 17, 2008
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  3. Thanks for posting, btw! I would love more gadget talk on Memebox!

    Posted by: jcchan   July 17, 2008
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