Variations Of HDR Photography

Anderson Park Art Gallery
Anderson Park Art Gallery - original JPG

I am not a planner! I seldom, if ever, plan what story I am going to tell in a post.

In many ways, this is a bad thing because it means that I am not targetting a specific niche or a particular audience, and so makes a bit of a mockery of using SEO to boost my blog readership.

On the other hand, not planning ahead is quite fun because I never have to second guess myself.

Such is the case with this wee story about variations of HDR photography. Totally unplanned, this post came about when I decided to breathe new life into my aging Mac Mini. I think it is generally accepted that any new software upgrades or updates place extra demands on the processing power of your computer, whether it be Mac or PC, Certainy I noticed that, my machine has become sluggish with all the updates to the likes of Luminar, On 1 Photo RAW, DxO Optics Pro, and so on.

My Mac Mini is a late 2014 model that does not have user-upgradeable RAM, and upgrading the spinner hard drive is also a mission. Nevertheless, I took the plunge and bought a 500GB Samsung EVO 860 SSD, cloned my existing hard drive to it and watched a few videos on YouTube about replacing the hard drive. The whole transplant took me about an hour and suddenly my dear old Mac seemed like new.

A very slow boot time of 57 seconds with the old hard drive dropped to 15 seconds with the SSD. My photo editing apps such as Luminar and On1 Photo RAW now open in about 7 seconds instead of upwards of 20 or 30 seconds. And Chrome opens in the blink of an eye. Fantastic!

Also of course – power consumption drops with an SSD, as does heat generated.

But, as is my way, I digress.

Variations of HDR Photography

This post is about variations in what HDR photography is perceived to be. You may see it differently from the way I see it, which in turn may be different from the way the software engineers, who dream up the algorithms used, see it.

All that you see here came about because I wanted to see how quick I could process three bracketed exposures to HDR with my snappy new machine. Now, I know what you’re thinking…the processor speed and RAM in the Mac Mini is still original, so where has this snappiness I talk about come from. Easy –  there is no time waiting for the apps to pull RAW files or JPGs from the hard drive, so everything is much quicker overall.

And so – at last – to the HDR stuff.

Sitting in my Pictures folder, I found three handheld bracketed exposures of a local (no longer used) art gallery that I had taken some months ago. The photos had been taken with my Nikon D5100 set to Aperture Priority to maintain depth-of-field across the shots. The brackets were 0EV, +2EV and -2EV.

The first photo in the gallery below is the original 0EV version of the in-camera JPG. It is basically straight out of the camera but resized for use in this story.

The other HDR photos in the gallery below were produced using  – in order – On1 Photo RAW, Aurora HDR (trial version), Photomatix Pro 6 and the (old free from Google a million years ago!) Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 which I found hidden in my Downloads folder. The old version of Nik Efex HDR Pro 2 can only handle JPG images. The other three are all processed from RAW files.

Please remember, this is not a review of the HDR software I used. I didn’t do any fancy processing. In each case, I used a single preset that was described within the packages as natural, or realistic, or photographic.

Call me the one-click kid!



And just for fun – I used Luminar 3 and Photolemur to process these last two images from a single RAW file. For the Luminar image, I used the Accent AI Filter and Sky Enhancer; while Photolemur is a quick and easy AI adjustment only.



P.S. My favourite is Aurora HDR. I loved its ease of use and the wonderful array of presets.

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Rick - The Occasional Photoblogger

I am Invercargill photographer Rick Harvey – aka The Occasional Photoblogger. I consider myself an opportunist photographer and enjoy taking photographs of ordinary things I see around me, and try to make them appear a little less ordinary and interesting, and while it is always nice to have others appreciate my images, my primary goal is to take photographs that make me happy.

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