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HDR Tone Mapping

Updated on April 19, 2013

Have you ever had the experience of taking a photo with a digital camera that when you viewed the image on your computer didn’t seem to have the depth of color or clarity that you saw when you took the picture?

Unfortunately digital cameras aren’t able to capture the full quality of the scene with the natural light available. Actually it’s not possible to get the full details with any camera.

Light has a way of falling differently on different objects and as a result can not be fully captured by the camera lens.

However, there is a way to capture the total range of light and that is called High Dynamic Range Photography.

By taking several identical pictures of the same scene with different shutter speeds and then merging them together into a single image you get a whole range of the light available.

As a result you end up with an image that is much closer to what your eye will see.

The technique of High Dynamic Range Photography of Imaging captures the actual light distribution.  This makes for a more realistic image.  The actual process of merging the images into a single image can be done with Photoshop CS2 software.  This software is great in merging together a series of exposures so that the final image has the depth and tonal quality of the original scene.

You will need at least three exposures for your HDR image, however, five or more is recommended for maximum accuracy.  With more exposures the camera can convert the digital values to enhance the tonal details. 

This technique helps get realistic tonal qualities but it will take care and skill so that the image doesn’t end up getting distorted.  Good lighting is still important but the image will never look as realistic as the original.  However, HDR is a great technique for improving the tonal quality of the image.


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