I came to the HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography party late.  Before I really understood what HDR was all about I saw so many photographs processed using the “grunge” and “painterly” settings for HDR and I thought they were just too over-processed for my taste.  So I associated all HDR with those looks.  But after I started playing around with it I realized there were so many more options.  Also, for architectural and real estate photography HDR can save an image by allowing  you to expose for both the light and dark areas of your subject and then merge them into one perfectly exposed image.  There is still room for artistic interpretation as well and if the grunge or painterly or another custom processing of your image works then that is great too.

Here are two images to give an idea of what you can do with HDR photography versus processing the same image in PhotoShop.

This is the PhotoShop edited photograph.   I did not do much here but I did increase the vibrance and saturation a bit and lightened the image overall.  This is not a bad image in general.  But the sky is very dull and the shadows in the lower left corner are a little dark.

This is the HDR processed version of the image above.  It is a combination of three exposures of the same scene; one exposed normally, one over exposed and one under exposed.  This is the essence of HDR photography in that it allows you to correctly expose for all areas of the scene with different shots and then merge them all together.  This image is not perfect either; the saturation could be toned down a bit and the patio furniture has lost its true color.  But those things are easily corrected and it is more a matter of personal taste.  What is more important is the sky and the dark areas.  I was able to expose for the sky alone in one image and capture the blue hues and the glow of the late afternoon sun.  The shadows on the back wall and around the rocker are also now gone.

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