They call it HDR

imagePeeling paint, Woodbury, Connecticut © Steven Willard

HDR (High Dynamic Range) has found its way into mainstream photography. Almost from the beginning it became a tool that some people tended to abuse, in my opinion. Instead of a method of taming extreme exposure ranges in a photograph, a lot of photographers were using it to create wildly exaggerated images that looked more like cartoons or posters. (fortunately that fad has about run its course) It was too bad though, because I think it turned a lot of photographers off to the possibilities of using this tool, and there are times when HDR allows you to do things you can’t do any other way.

True HDR requires multiple exposures of a scene to capture the brightest and darkest ranges, then using an HDR program to blend those exxposues into one image that reproduces a wider luminance range than can be produced by one exposure. Settings in those programs let the photographer choose how much effect they want, from subtle to over the top, which is what happened all to often. Along the way some developers were addding the ability to achieve HDR-like effects using only one exposure by boosting the recovery in shadow and highlight sliders. Not true HDR but for many uses it’s enough. Enter Snapseed.

This image was taken knowing that I would apply the Snapseed app and its HDR filter even though the original scene did not include a very wide luminance range. The HDR filter in Snapseed exaggerated textures and colors in a way I haven’t been able to duplicate in other ways. There are only three sliders in the filter, Strength, Sauturation, and Brightness, but it’s amazing how much one can do with just those three adjustments. I did use other filters in the Snapseed set, but it was HDR that had the greatest impact.



I have no idea how this thing does what it does, and I don’t really care, but the results can sometimes work magic on an image. Try it.

Olympus OMD EM5 with 20mm f1.7 Lumix lens. Processed in Snapseed on my iPad Air.


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