Dreaming of High Dynamic Range Photography Techniques

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A new photography technique that I’m starting to learn about is called High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR for short).

If you are a photographer like me and your strengths lie in the artistic side of the craft, these next few technical paragraph descriptions may cause you to self-combust.

I’ll invite you to just hang in there.

High Dynamic Range Photography Techniques by Ray Mabry

The technique of HDR is to show the wide range of intensity levels found in a photograph.

There are 2 ways to create this visual effect:

1. The first way is to physically take a series of shots in the field of something — like the abandoned building shown above — and you would take this series of shots at different exposures and combine them later in an image editing program. You are literally ‘layering them’ on top of each other —- so that the images will show deeper contrast and color tones, and have a greater texture and density look to them than a normal one exposure image would have.

Think about this like baking cookies from scratch. You have all the raw ingredients, you put them together and you get the result — and you can alter any of the ingredients to change the outcome. You have more control on how they turn out because of this.

2. The second way to achieve this effect is by producing them by using Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or other photo editing programs. You start with your one image of those same subjects and you adjust the tonal values, highlights, and other settings on the original photo until your tweaking ultimately creates the final look you want.

This would be like baking those cookies, starting with a box of cookie mix and adding a half a cup of chocolate chips to make them even more chocolaty. Your control over the outcome for this approach is limited, because all you can do is add other ingredients to the mix that is already there.

HDR is one of those things that beginning photographers should learn sooner than later. It sounds more overwhelming that it is. Once you understand how to approach it, go out and practice it. Make mistakes. Try different settings and add different effects.

As with most things, the more you practice, the better you’ll get.

There are plenty of resources for classes, trainings, and books – a local photography Meetup organizer, Ray Mabry has even created a 2 hour workshop so photographers can learn the techniques classroom style, and then go out and practice them in the field together as a group.

Here are a few links to some online HDR resources –

By focusing on this aspect of my top photography dream, I am DE-mystifying the technical side of photography — my biggest learning curve — and that feels like I’m on the right track with where I want to go this year.

Until next photo,


Remy would like to see a public showing of her photography.

  • Bruce

    Nice post on a topic near to my heart! Very well written to help pull in a less technical audience.
    Keep dreaming – and acting on it!

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      thanks Bruce…”less technical audience” is SOO me! Maybe you could give us an interview when the technical speak gets a little heavier! :) Rem

  • Lisa Powell, Author & Serial Traveler

    “What kinds of challenges can you take on today” is a great question for ANY dream Remy… I am really pushing myself in 2011 to teach more workshops, do more coaching and public speaking, and take on situations that in the past would have intimidated me (now, they inspire me!)… Now I just need to really push myself to finish with my BRANDING, getting my writing/coaching Website up, and doing more “official” marketing… gulp ;) (while of course also editing my book manuscript!).

    Hmmm maybe I need to hire a good business coach, know one? ;) Maybe we should talk girl! :)

    Love ya!!!

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      Lis, if anyone can do all of that stuff, its you. I love that you re inspired by previously intimidating situations. I’d be happy to chat with you about what you need, and either work with you myself if you want, or find a good one for you! whatever you want….

  • Now this one speaks to me Remy. I really need to work on learning to use what I have. Thanks for the push in the right direction. You go girl.

    • Remy G

      Hi Maggie! You are welcome for the push. Keep at it, you will get it! I think your products will be a great fit for this kind of technique! Beautiful! and, Happy Belated birthday! Hope you enjoyed yourself. xox Rem

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  • Actually learn how to use a camera.

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      sometimes, easier said than done! thanks for the edits. xox Rem