HDR Visions of the camera and tone mapped pictures

If we look at a real world scene we can see, that the range of brightness is considerable wide sometimes and that is an essential problem in photography when dealing with scenes that are brightly lit and have as well strong shadows. There is an easy way to deal with such situations – just come back at another time or change your point of view. But what, what if we want to take just this picture, because it holds something we think worth of transmitting to others?

Here comes the technique of creating High Dynamic Range pictures (HDR). The capturing of these dynamic ranges in images, putting them together in one way or another with different software and eventually tone mapping them is commonly described as HDR pictures.  In tone mapping this kind of image there are different approaches from natural to very psychedelic.

As a photographer I have my own way of thinking and seeing and about the effect my pictures should have. The ways of thinking about HDR and about the perception vary from person to person. It is not possible to tie this creativity to a scientific approach or to a rigorous strict working scheme, or maybe it would be possible but there wouldn’t be fun and in a way all images would be the same.

Images with a high dynamic range are growing in all sorts of photo related businesses. You can find them in ads, everywhere in photo online communities and even in museums. You like them or you don’t – but this will be the hype of the next years. 

In the last years the fact, that everyone was only able to capture a part of the full range of brightness was commonly accepted as a fact of life. May be an inconvenient, but a fact nonetheless. There have been early workarounds and solutions but it has never been a real effort to record everything possible. There has been the technique of dodging and burning – if you look at a master like Ansel Adams you will see what had been possible, even at this early stage.  Other possibilities included different forms of filter or using fill flash, artificial lighting and so on.

The new techniques with HDR and especially tonemapping  allow us, given the right use of exposures, to reproduce any tone and any colour in an image in different ways to our choosing. This should be wonderful but can result in confused and bizarre pictures. Following is one of my creations – which can be liked or not. More to follow in my next blogpost ...