Wednesday, 17 April 2013

New Take on an Old Theme: Developing a Photographic Style

Chinese Gardens. Sydney. Pic by Natalie Hitchens.

As photographers we are often on the lookout for a new way to present an old theme. Shooting HDR (high dynamic range) images is one way to expand your image style.  However, the very nature of HDR image processing opens yet another can of proverbial worms - there are dozens and dozens of "looks" that you can create using HDR, all from the same set of bracketed images.

Pic by Natalie Hitchens.

To create an HDR picture, you need to shoot multiple exposures of the same scene. Typically this is done by setting the camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) in-camera.  Press and hold the shutter and the camera makes three different exposures,, one underexposed, one over, and one 'normal' exposure. These three exposures are then 'assembled' using a specific HDR software, such as Photomatix Pro (available from

HDR software can be used to create a big range of colours, contrasts, textures and visual effects (Pic by Natalie Hitchens).

Here's a screen grab of the HDR software, Photomatix Pro. To start, choose one of the examples in the thumbnails at right, then adjust further using the (complex looking) sliders along the left-hand side. This can be used to create something that looks realistic or, as is the case with Natalie's images, somewhat surreal.
Besides using HDR for the visual style, HDR is brilliant for capturing a wider dynamic range (of tones) than is possible with a single snap. A single shot of this scene would produce deep shadows in the interior of the pagoda. By greatly overexposing the interior and combining it with an underexposed image you get the best of both worlds. Pic by Natalie Hitchens.


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