Messing around with HDR photography

Sunset at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Joe Newman.

Sunset at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park / Photo by Joe Newman

I know that when it comes to HDR photography, people either love it or hate it. For me, looking at HDR photos that are grossly over-saturated is like listening to someone scraping their fingernails across a chalk board. But when it’s done well, ala Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs or Christopher Schoenbohm of the Lost Man Project, the photos can be amazing (yeah, I know there are people who don’t like HDR under any circumstances …oh well).

I’ve decided to try my hand at it. I figured I mess up the exposure enough with my photos that HDR might be just what I need.

These are the first two photos I’ve processed with the Photomatix software. I actually didn’t use a series of bracketed photos to make them. (The typical way to bracket for HDR is taking a set of the same exact scene but with different settings for each photo.) Instead, I made copies of the photos in Lightroom and tweaked the exposure slider for each photo. Then I used the Photomatix software to stitch the photos together.

The photo at the top is from our trip to Yellowstone National Park last summer. You can see what the photo looks like as a silhouette in this blog post. The picture below is from our trip last weekend to Newport Beach, California. We were just sitting down for dinner at the Bluewater Grill when I couldn’t resist leaving the table to snap some sunset photos.

They’re certainly not world beaters. I’m sure if I actually read a tutorial, I might have a clue as to what I’m doing. I suck at reading instruction manuals, though, and I’ve been too busy to watch a video. So, I’m considering these practice runs until I can actually get out this weekend and bracket some photos and figure out what I’m doing with the software.

Sunset at Newport BeachThe sunset view from the Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach, California / Photo by Joe Newman
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Joe Newman

I'm Joe Newman, multi-media story teller, non-profit do-gooder, international street photographer, serious poker player, intrepid traveler. Bourbon drinker.