A High Dynamic Range Digital Photography Workflow - dummies

A High Dynamic Range Digital Photography Workflow

Part of High Dynamic Range Digital Photography For Dummies Cheat Sheet

High dynamic range (HDR) digital photography is a twofold process. You take pictures. You process pictures. Everything revolves around these two activities. Here is a general workflow of how to shoot and process HDR:

  1. Take exposure bracketed photos.

    Shoot bracketed photos to capture as large an exposure range of the scene as possible. Most of the time, you’ll set up your camera on a tripod. The exception to bracketing is when you take one Raw photo for use in single-exposure HDR. Raw photos are best to work with, but JPEGs can also produce good results.

  2. Pre-process Raw photos.

    For the highest quality, convert Raw images to TIFFs before proceeding with HDR.

  3. Generate a high dynamic range image in HDR software.

    HDR software merges the bracketed photos into a single high dynamic range image that serves no practical purpose other than to tone map.

  4. Tone map the HDR image in HDR software.

    This is where you get to create a low dynamic range image from the HDR image. The result appears to have a higher dynamic range (and thus looks better) but doesn’t (which means that it’s compatible with normal systems).

  5. Finish with post-HDR processing.

    The image you just tone mapped often needs further attention. It may have noise problems, or need straightened, cropped, or otherwise fixed. You may also wish to convert your image to black and white or otherwise embellish it.