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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

High Dynamic Range

I've just discovered a new form of photography and I have to share it with everyone. I'd been seeing and hearing about something called "HDR" all over photo sites I visit and finally looked into just what it stands for. It stands for High Dynamic Range and it refers to a technique that brings out all the detail in a picture, the detail all over the picture, and in an evenly balanced way. It's amazing, actually!
The picture just below employs this technique and involves using software that has HDR capabilities:

This is the street where I live in Norris City. By combining three differently exposed images of the same exact scene, the HDR software, which in this case is Adobe Photoshop CS2, combines the three images and choosed the best exposure settings for each specific spot in the picture. It lightens up the darkest areas and tones down the sky, which almost always has blown highlights in the lightest of places, and melds them together in such a way that everything looks perfectly exposed. I don't know how it does, but it does.
I also found out that there is a similar process that results in finished images looking the same way, but you start with only one original image. It's called Tone Mapping. Say you have one good exposure of something and want to improve different areas of it. You can take that one photo in your photo-editing software and make 3 different exposures which bring out the darkest, medium and lightest areas to best effect. By then combining them back together using the HDR software, you still get an image with loads of detail in all areas. The picture below was one I was pretty happy with as far as the exposure settings went:

And here is that same picture - which I thought had lost some detail in the darkest and most washed out places - after being subjected to the Tone Mapping process using the HDR software:

Pretty neat, huh?

Here are some of my other pictures I have Tone Mapped and you just wouldn't believe the improvement over the original digital file!

All in all, I'd say if you haven't tried this process yet, you need to look into it. The difference it can make in what you thought was an old, lifeless image can be startling!

Corporate Greed

Has this ever happened to you? One day, you'll be doing something with your computer on the internet and everything works fine. And then, the very next day, what was simple and easy to do yesterday, no longer works for you today. Don't you get tired of this? My computer is only a month old, so it's got the latest of everything available. It worked fine for a short while, now every day, something else stops working. I go to upload a file over at the Internet - yesterday morning it uploaded a file perfectly, without a single issue. Last night, I tried uploading a similar file and nothing. I'd go to enter the name of the item and click on the "next" button and the screen would flash and take me right back to the same screen. Only the "add a title for your item" box would be empty. It wouldn't accept anything you typed into it. This is so frustrating. You try the help section on the website you're attempting to use and all anybody can do is suggest "have you tried Firefox?" I use Internet Explorer. It works. It worked yesterday morning, so it should have worked yesterday evening. I don't want to install another program that can develop even more issues; one's that I don't have a clue of how to start fixing myself.

The problem is corporate greed. The huge computer and internet companies keep "upgrading" everything so that what you have won't work anymore. All for the sake of the allmighty dollar.

Well, listen up, buckos.... that's going to be changing if you don't straighten up and fly right. There's a reason why greed is one of the seven deadly sins.