What is a HDR Photo - Singing With Light

Some people have asked questions about what gear I use and how I get the end result in my photos. What is this HDR that I refer to?

So let me give a bit of an overview of what my tools and software used for many of my photos.

First off,  I am currently shooting with a Sony A6000 Mirrorless camera. It is great and not a expensive camera (a quick warning this is cheap unless you start buying extra lenses as the cost adds up for those, trust me).

What do I like about the A6000? The weight. It's pretty light compared to my previous Pentax DSLR I had, so very easy to carry around with me. Anywhere I go I take it with me, and that's a lot of places! I have come to find it does everything my old DSLR did and more in fact.

I also carry a tripod. It is also very handy to have especially if you want to try longer exposures, like this silky effect in a waterfall photos below.


Now as for Software I use.

Adobe Lightroom

This is a software I use to import the photos onto the computer, organize them, add tags and other information so I can easily find photos again when needed. If I have to do some light editing for some photos this is all I need as its a fairly powerful tool on its own.

Adobe Photoshop

This is a more powerful editing tool that can do a lot more editing. In fact,  I would guess I probably use less than 20% of its capabilities, well I probably use on any one photo a lot less than that to be honest. There are so many tools available in Photoshop that I have yet to learn but I know the tools I use often quite well now after a lot of trial and error learning which is pretty much my style with photography. I do more than enough reading in my day job to read tutorials in my free time.

Both of those are paid tools under Adobe Creative Cloud. I currently pay a monthly subscription of around $10 a month for the both of them which I feel is quite reasonable.

Google Nik tools

In addition, I sometimes use the Google Nik addons which are now free. Mainly, I just use Nik Silver Efex Pro for some black and white photos and occasionally use some of the other tools. The program itself used to cost $150 but good news, for anyone wanting to try it, it is now free.

Photomatix Pro

Now for those who were wondering about HDR and what it is? Photomatix is the tool I primarily use for HDR but first what is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is a process where you take a series of photos at different exposures and blend them together so you can get good detail in areas that would otherwise be to exposed/bright or to underexposed/dark.

Not sure how well I explained this so maybe a few photos will explain it better.

For example:

3 Photos.

As you can see I generally use three different exposures. The one on the left is a standard or base exposure, this would be pretty much what I would have to work with if I only took one photo. As you can see there is not a lot of detail in both the dark and lights.

The middle photo is under exposed. So you can see more detail in the bright areas such as the outside through the arches in the middle.

The photo on the right over exposed. Which brings out the detail in the dark areas.

This is where using the Photomatix Pro tool comes in to play. It merges the photos into one. There is a HDR merge tool built into Lightroom and also now that google is free, that also includes a tool called HDR Efex Pro that will do this as well.

The next photo is the end result Photomatix.

Three shots merged in Photomatix.

I do, do some minor adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop afterwards. I have written far more than I planned to in this post so I won't get into that now but will instead share the end result. I have to say its one of my favorite photos I have done in awhile.

If you wish to see it in a larger size, just click on the photo to expand it.


Under Bethesda Terrace in Central Park.

Here are a few other examples of HDR photos I have done in the past.

New York City.

Around Milford, CT.

Feel free to click on any of the photos above to see them in more detail.

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading through to the end.

I would really appreciate any feedback and particularly any ideas for future posts that you would want to see.

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