High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is the process of taking several images at different shutter speeds and combining them into a single photo that contains no washed out or underexposed areas. The result is a surreal, almost too perfectly lit photograph that contains a high level of detail throughout the image.

Photoshop has a built-in HDR photo merging tool which produces some incredible results without too much effort. The image above, from Ryan McGinnis’ excellent Photoshop HDR tutorial, is pretty surreal. It reminds me of a high-res rendering from a video game.

If you’re using the GIMP, you can get similar results by carefully masking and merging layers, or you can download and use the exposure-blend plugin which will simplify the process a little. Below are links to both processes – you can see which works best for you.

Whatever package you use, the important thing is to use a solid tripod and only adjust the shutter speed between shots. For the best results, you’ll also want to set your camera to RAW mode.

How to Create Professional HDR Images in Photoshop – Link
HDR photos with the GIMP – Link
Using the GIMP exposure-blend plugin – Link


I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

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