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This book naturally follows on Michael Freeman’s other book on night and low light photography, but I have to admit that I approached it — and the subject of HDR — with quite a degree of apprehension. For me the whole topic of HDR and the results it produces are, in some cases, a bit of a let-down: the need for an extended dynamic range in photography is based upon the eye’s prodigious ability to see a range of brightness in a scene that no camera can capture. But isn’t that the role of the photographer? To interpret and reproduce an impression of the scene — not to record it exactly as it is?
Author Michael Freeman explains early in the book that “Scenes vary in their range of brightness and the ones that cause most trouble for photography are those in which the highlights are much brighter than those in the shadows.” To achieve this, he approaches the subject with precision and enormous technical know-how; it helps if you have a foreknowledge of light and colour theory.
Freeman also makes the point that there is no reason why future camera sensors could not capture a much wider range of brightness than they do … if so, the need for HDR would be a thing of the past.
One camera — and only one — has already arrived there: the extraordinary SpheroCamHDR panoramic camera already captures images in 32-bit resolution and with a dynamic range in excess of five orders of magnitude — or 26 f stops.
Freeman makes some controversial claims: proposing a case for RAW capture he points out that most, if not all cameras, actually capture in 12- and 14-bits: on opening in Photoshop the file then appears to be 16-bit but with no more range in the image.
He also controversially asserts that the only monitor worth its salt is the Brightside Technolgies’ LED-based display; with it, a dynamic range of 200,000:1 is possible.
Other topics covered include Gestalt and perception; how to shoot the multiple exposures need for HDR with a handheld DSLR; how to accurately align multiple images in Photoshop; too many lens manufacturers assume they will be used in low dynamic range capture, leading to flare on a final HDR result; colour management; HDR and the scanned image.
A fascinating and challenging book.
Get a copy of Mastering High Dynamic Range Photography at Amazon.