School’s out for winter break, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to share with you! I’ll have photos to accompany our adventures in Michigan this week, but that is still to come …
Our last two weeks of class before break focused on Photoshop and integrating it into our studio work. It was really nice to see the professionally applicable uses of Photoshop instead of just messing around with it for fun, which is what it felt like we had been doing with it up until these modules.
I’ll show you some of my studio work later this week, but I wanted first to share a very interesting exercise we completed in Photoshop III: High Dynamic Range, or HDR, photography.
You may have heard about HDR already, and some say it’s had its day and is now passé and overdone, but I think it’s still pretty awesome.
The principle behind HDR is that the camera can only capture a certain dynamic range of light, the differences between the darkest dark shadow and the brightest bright highlights, in one shot. The human eye can distinguish many, many more gradients of light than the camera can. HDR software tries to make a photograph’s range of light come closer to the human eye’s, and because we rarely see that in photographs, it looks CRAZY.
Here is my completed HDR image, taken from the MIT/Cambridge side of the Charles River looking over onto a nondescript section of the Boston side:
What you do is take the same exact photograph (so get out your tripod!) at several different exposures. You expose optimally for the shadows so that they are not so dark, and optimally for the highlights so that they are not so bright, and do several exposures in between, too. HDR software (and Photoshop, which has HDR capabilities, as well) combines the different exposures and magically knows which parts of each shot to keep so that every element in your final photograph is perfectly rendered in full detail.
Voilà! HDR. A very cool technique, though not one I’m going to be using everyday. It’s been pretty great to get exposed to these processes that were mysteries to me just a few short months ago. Another point for photo school!