This photo is a before and after of what an HDR photo looks like in its original form before being merged with others. The photo on the left if the original taken at regular exposure. The photo on the right is the result of the merging of three photos; one underexposed, one overexposed and one that is normal exposure. You can clearly see how detailed the HDR photo on the right is compared with the normal photo on the left. I also went ahead and removed some of the logos as well as the number on the boat in the foreground. The sky is much more enhanced and detailed and the water is much more reflective in the HDR photo.
There are a number of steps that I need to do in order to get a photo like this. First, I have to take at least three photos of the scene with a high quality camera that has a RAW format. I set the camera to take three photos very quickly and all at different exposures. After that, I merge the three photos with HDR merging software and export it as a 16 bit TIFF image. Then, I open it in Aperture and adjust the colors, hue, temperature and any other aspects of the photo to what I see fit. Next, I process my HDR photo with noise reduction software to clear out digital artifacts. I then go back into Aperture and sharpen my photo as needed. Finally if anything needs to be removed from the photo (logos, trademarks, etc.), I open the exported photo in Photoshop and digitally remove anything that I don’t want.
That’s it! It sounds easy, but it’s actually pretty time consuming per photo. The HDR photo above took me nearly a half hour to get it just right. Not bad I suppose, especially when the photo comes out so nice! But when you are like me and you come home from a vacation with over 3,000+ photos, it takes months if not years to really get through them all to do everything that I want to do to them. I took this photo in May 2011 as I was on an east coast road trip with my girlfriend Rose. We loved Newport, Rhode Island and are excited to return there someday!
Check out this other HDR before and after photo of the rocks along Ocean Ave in Newport, RI.