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In this part, I'll try to share and present different techniques of photography. I'll expose personal methods and also techniques I found on the web or that other photographs teach me. Of course, don't considerate what I say as the holy words, I'm not a professionnal photograph. But I'm pleased to share what I like, and if I can give tools to do what you want, it's good for both. Feel free to contact me if you have any question or comment, I'll be happy to have your feeling about what I say.

1 - What is HDR (High Dynamic Range) and how to do it?

HDR imaging were firstly used in architecture photography. This method enable you to have a perfect exposure, both in highlighting and shadows. But it's just impossible, when you shoot, to have details in a very bright sky and also in the foreground, very dark.

HDR provides the answer. If you could have at least two different shots of the same scene, but with a different exposure, you could merge photos and then adjust separatly exposure of each zone of the image. Of course this method is very hard to do manually, so image treatment softwares has been developped to do it automatically, thanks to special algorithms. The most famous are PHOTOMATIX Pro, HDR Efex Pro, or PHOTOSHOP.

A new technology has been developped by DxO Labs, enable you to do HDR with only one shot. The software is producing by itself three exposures from the RAW file you gave. The result is incomparable to real HDR but provides you a nice image, with an extreme local contrast. DxO Optics Pro 6 contains the HDR Single Shot preset, so you can automatically process images. If you are an advanced user, you can adjust manually many correction settings to have the perfect rendering.

Today, HDR is overused, you can see it everywhere on the web, and also on the press. Thought to serve architecture photography, HDR is now a style, giving a creative aspect to images.

TIP: The only important thing if you want to do HDR images is to shoot RAW files. RAW files are uncompressed files, containing all the information registrered by your camera sensor when you take the picture. JPEG is a compressed file freezing information. Then if you want to modify your image, quality of JPEG file will be deteriorated by the processing. On the contrary, RAW file can be modified without any loss of information.

>> See HDR images galery...

Test 1 : PHOTOMATIX Pro, Hard HDR - Auto Bracketing
Auto Bracketing
Auto Bracketing, -1 EV
Auto Bracketing
ISO 100, 17mm, 1/250s, f/6.3
Auto Bracketing
Auto Bracketing, +1EV
PHOTOMATIX Pro processing
- PHOTOMATIX Pro processing - Extreme contrast and saturation, intense lighting.
This photo was shot with the Auto-Bracketing Mode of my camera (EV -1 ; EV 0 ; EV +1), and without tripod. Therefore, because of walking people, you can see "ghosts" on the final images. You can set Photomatix to remove ghosts but the result is pretty bad and you have to spend hours to clean your image. Anyway, this processing is great if you like unreal images.
Test 2 : PHOTOMATIX Pro, Smooth HDR - Manual Bracketing
Manual Bracketing
ISO 200, 17mm, 1/1250s, f/6.3
Manual Bracketing
ISO 200, 17mm, 1/320s, f/6.3
Manual Bracketing
ISO 200, 17mm, 1/80s, f/6.3
PHOTOMATIX Pro processing
- PHOTOMATIX Pro processing - Smooth contrast and cool saturation, soft lighting.
This photo was shot is a good example to show how HDR imaging could be useful. If you want to see details in the sky and in the foreground, you have to take one shot over-exposed to catch details in shadows, one under-exposed to catch details in highlighted zones, and one with a correct exposure. With softwares like PHOTOMATIX Pro you can automatically merge photos and get a great result, with all details of the scene. I decide by myself three exposures, by changing shutter speed. Do not change the aperture to vary exposure because it's also impacting depth of field and intensify chromatic aberrations.
Test 3 : DxO Optics Pro, High Contrast - Single RAW processing
Single RAW
ISO 100, 39mm, 1/160s, f/2.8
DxO Optics Pro processing
- DxO Optics Pro processing - High local and global contrast, intense saturation.
With a single RAW file, DxO Optics Pro provide you a very great result. Details are restored, contrast is enhanced, color are stronger. We are far from PHOTOMATIX hard HDR, but this image is closer to reality. The original image was shot quickly. The brightness is bad, contrast is bland... DxO Optics Pro easily turns your photo into a very harmonious image.
Test 4 : DxO Optics Pro, Hard HDR - Single RAW processing
Single RAW
ISO 100, 23mm, 1/80s, f/7.1
DxO Optics Pro processing
- DxO Optics Pro processing - Extreme local and global contrast, high saturation.
Again, with a single RAW file, DxO Optics Pro makes a good job. The highlighted foreground exposure is adjusted, contrast is stronger, and details are restored almost everywhere in the image. This rendering is closer to HDR style.
Test 5 : PHOTOMATIX Pro, Black & White Hard HDR - Single RAW processing
Single RAW
ISO 100, 17mm, 1/200s, f/6.3
PHOTOMATIX Pro processing
- PHOTOMATIX Pro processing - Extreme contrast, saturation set to zero, intense lighting.
HDR imaging can also give great rendering on black and white photos. The original RAW file was in color, but I choose to set saturation so my image turn into black and white. Details in this building are perfeclty restored and you can also fully enjoy clouds in the sky.
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