A couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Moab, Utah and spent some time at one of my favorite places: Arches National Park. The landscapes within Arches are spectacular and like no where else on earth, at least not that I am aware of. With so many interesting things to see and so many unique shapes, shadows and colors, it was the perfect place to practice some HDR photography.
HDR photography, or High Dynamic Range photography, is a method used to combine multiple images shot at varying exposures for the purpose of bringing out greater detail and a greater dynamic range between the brightest parts of an image and the darkest parts. Our eyes already have the capability to see a high dynamic range of light, but even expensive, modern day digital SLR cameras can only take a photo at one exposure level, and in challenging light conditions, the bights are often too bright and the darks too dark, or the contrast between them too great. Whatever the case may be, there is usually a loss of detail in the dark or bright parts of the picture. Combining a sequence of photos taken at different exposure levels using one of several software packages such as Google’s Nik HDR Effex Pro 2 enables you to bring out that lost detail and preserve or exaggerate the contrast of the image. From there, the creative possibilities are endless. Long story short, Arches National Park was the perfect place to mess around and get creative with HDR photos.
HDR photos can certainly appear more surreal than traditional single shot photos and people seem to either love them or hate them. Some feel they are too doctored up, but in this age of digital photography, everything is processed to some degree, so why not take advantage of powerful computers and processors to create creative images? It don’t think it is in any way cheating… most people complaining don’t use traditional film cameras, and looking at the LCD screen on the back of your camera to judge the photo you’ve just snapped instead of waiting to develop it in a darkroom is sort of cheating too if we use that logic. Either way, like it or loathe it, its fun to see what kind of images you can create using HDR techniques and here are a few from Arches.