That HDR Thing happens to be one of the latest crazes in photography. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a technique used to bring out more depth in an image, or the difference between the light and dark areas. The human eye has a much greater dynamic range than the current digital cameras can produce. In order to improve the dynamic range of an image, multiple images shot at different exposures; usually three exposures are bracketed +/- 2 stops, although some people will do 5 or even 7 exposures. The multiple images are then processed using either Photoshop or a separate dedicated program, one of the most popular being Photomatix.
HDR is somewhat ‘controversial’ (can’t we all just get along?) and it seems that most photographers either love it or hate it. Depending on how the images are processed, the final result can look incredibly realistic or can have a surreal, even apocalyptic feel to them. Photographers who don’t care for HDR tend to base their arguments on the idea that with all the post-processing and photoshopery required that HDR isn’t really ‘photography’. I tend to take a middle road viewpoint. Although I generally prefer images that are processed to look realistic, and that’s how I try to make mine (with varying degrees of success), I can appreciate images that are processed a bit more over-the-top. It’s just art. Photography is art. How an image got to its final form to me is irrelevant.
That said, I don’t feel the need to turn every photo I take into an HDR image but it definitely has some uses. I find it most useful for architectural and interior shots (see today’s photo). I’ve sometimes used it for landscapes as well, although I feel the dynamic range problems often inherent with landscape photography are usually best alleviated in-camera using neutral density filters.
This is a pretty basic explanation of what HDR is. If you’re interested in learning more, Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs has some great tutorials and ebooks on how to do HDR as well as a daily blog with some great travel photography.
This is another one from Queen Victoria Mall in Sydney. It’s the bottom of a Christmas tree that extends up through three floors of the mall. If you look closely, you can see it in the background of this image.