10 Easy Steps To Advanced Photography Skills

6. Practice With HDR

What is HDR? It’s short for High Dynamic Range photography, and it’s all the rage. I have a tutorial on HDR on my blog. But here, I’ll explain HDR in a circuitous but meaningful way.

About 80% of my photos are in HDR, but I do something a little different. As you start looking into HDR (many of you already have), you will begin to notice how absolutely horrible most HDR looks. When many people begin experimenting with it (myself included), it is overdone and looks too psychedelic. Over time, mine have improved via rigorous self-examination and an evolving methodology.

Remember that bit about me growing up and seeing the world with one eye? Now, we come to the second part of this daring mini-biography as we are cross the stepping stones to my point. My background in college was Computer Science and Math, so I’ve always thought about things in terms of algorithms and software. The very first time I used a DSLR camera, when I was 35 or so, I very quickly came to the realization that something was missing.

A young Amish boy allows me to freeze time after I help him carry wood with his sisters.

A young Amish boy allows me to freeze time after I help him carry wood with his sisters.

That missing something was the “software” layer between the eye and the memory. Consider what you do with the barn and apply it to how the camera works. You survey the scene. Your eye jumps around from interesting object to interesting object, sometimes moving slowly, sometimes quickly. Your eye lets in more light in some areas, less in others as your pupil dilates. You squint into the setting sun and see warm colors splashed across the clouds, grass and barn. You remember other barns, other storms, other sunsets. You may have been with someone or were alone, but you certainly remember. You lock it all up in your mind’s eye forever.

Because we are visual creatures, a photo or painting can evoke great memories. But the onlyway to trigger some of those intense memories on a deep level is to adjust the light levels in the photograph, so that the light levels and color match those buried in your head. The HDR process can help achieve these goals.

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