See those rather unusual-looking views of Tokyo in the slideshow above? Well they are my first experiments with HDR imagery. I’m pretty new to it, but it involves blending images together to extract the maximum possible ‘dynamic range’, or shades of colour. This creates an image far richer than we are used to seeing, with so many hues that it simply can’t be displayed on current monitors or even printers. At least in theory, it’s far closer to what we can see with our eyes than conventional photographs, so perhaps in the future, with improved monitors, photos will look even more like a view out of the window. Combine this with some form of stereophonic 3D imagery, and we have a true next generation image.
Since we can’t currently see them in their full glory, the trick is to then render this viewable by ‘tone-mapping’, with programs such as Photomatix. This extracts the colours latent in it in a pleasing way, giving a more varied and completely coloured image than usual, but fine for viewing on monitors and the internet. This works well enough, but like many others I found the colours straight out of the program to be too lurid, so I have tidied them up in Photoshop, with a blend of processes to make them look better, (especially a high-pass filter and a level adjustment, if that means anything to you). So I call these second-generation images HDR Redux.
I feel there is a great potential in this process, as it is somewhat automatic, yet very configurable. It gives a very impressionistic feeling, of an overly-vibrant world, the kind of world we can feel is out there, if not always see. Unlike a lot of digital transformations, this extracts everything from the original photo- not really adding anything, to find a scene more like the real one rather than escaping from it. Of course, there are many digital processes out there, yet for some reason this one is getting very popular. Depending on how they are done and how you look at them, it can be very artistic, or actually quite ugly… you decide in which camp my ones sit!
You can see them on Flickr or as a new set on A Day in the Life (you’ll have to scroll down a little, though, past some newer ones of local life!)
Posted by Starfires on July 18, 2006