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Old Feb 25, 2008, 12:24 PM   #1
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HDR can be a wonderful thing for your pictures or it can be a way of making them look unnatural. My main reason for wanting to use HDR is many times my pictures do not look natural. For instance landscape pictures in the mountains with dark green conifer trees against a bright skyline come out black in the photographs.

I ran across a new HDR program out of Germany that is public domain and seems to be very good at making images look more natural. Forget the cartoon look you are used to seeing, that is not its goal. Here is a link to there website:


I took some pictures using my auto bracketing set at +/-1. My camera only does three shot auto brackets and I know some of the newer cameras do five, which would be even better. I purposely took these pictures with snow and trees in them, sinceI knew my camera wouldn't handle all this without problems. I posted a photo below after I merged the three and tone-mapped it.

I think I'm getting closer as the tree branches are not just shadows and the snow is not overpowering. The green grass came out more natural also. Anyway, this might be something worth playing with for those interested in the process and it's a free download. I plan to try more with it as the opportunity arises- Bruce

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Old Feb 25, 2008, 2:32 PM   #2
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the result looks good to me, considering the fact that this is actually a HDR.

I fiddled around with HDR too and was very disappointed with the unnatural/cartoon look because this wasn't what I was aiming for - I wanted the same as you in landscape shots orany otherwith really high dynamic range.

Anyway... what I found was, that a RAW picture holds way more information and in most cases you won't need a -1/0/+1 bracketing shot if you got a good RAW shot. Reason behind this: a normal 8bit image has around 7-8 f-stops of information, a RAW image around 11-12 f-stops. There are articles in the internet explaining this. So when you shoot JPEG it's a good thing to do bracketing shots, where with RAW this isn't neccesary in most cases.

I testedit and this is what I found: when you shoot RAW and just tonemap the RAW image the result looks almost the same as with a -2/0/+2 JPEG bracketing shot. I wasn't using the program you mentioned but some others (test versions) and some "HDR-construction-methods" people posted for use with your preferred image manipulation program.

So if you can take RAW shots - try it on your own! The tonemapping really makes a difference, but not all tools support just the tonemapping step.

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