What Exactly Is HDR Photography

December 6, 2014 by Joey Sikes

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Differencce Between HDR and LDR

The human eye can see and blend light and dark at once. A camera can only pick up one exposure at a time. So your photo will be dark in some areas, and bright in others. HDR Photography has been around since the days of film, but has become extremely popular in recent years. High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is essentially a way of processing photos that allows for a wider and deeper range of colors. This type of processing makes an image appear more realistic. It is closer to what the human eye sees as opposed to what your camera’s sensor allows. This is a time consuming process and therefore photographers usually charge extra for this type of service.

What is LDR?

Traditional photograhy, or regular stills is known as LDR or Low Dynamic Range because it only uses one exposure. This is how most photos are taken and with the right camera settings, it is possible to make LDR look very similar to HDR. In many cases it is hard to tell the difference between the two. Where you see the biggest difference is in texture on couches, curtains, wallpaper, and woodwork. Additionally, HDR photos tend to be less bright than LDR.

What is HDR

It makes colors brighter and more vibrant. Imagine a regular photo uses a 16 box of crayons and a HDR photo uses a 64 box of crayons. How many more shades of a color can you create with the larger box? The challenge with HDR is leveling out the vibrancy to avoid the crayon or melted look. This is caused by the photographers technique when shooting. Some photographers have the ability to do HDR well and some do not. For example, you may know how to play golf, but whether you win or lose really depends on your technique.

When You Should Think About HDR

1) When the room lighting is uneven (bright windows, dark corners).
2) When the home has a lot of details such as textured walls or wallpaper.
3) When there is a lot of contrasting colors (The modern metro style homes).

When You Should Not Use HDR

1) Homes that are dirty, dated or in need of repair.
2) Vacant homes because they do not have a lot of contrast.
3) Homes that have all neutral colors (variations of brown with no primary colors (reds, blue green, etc).

HDR tends to bring out the imperfections in a room. Miscolored paint, carpet stains, dirty walls will all stand out in an HDR photo. In a regular photo they will not. Additionally if there is no color contrasts to emphasize, HDR will look the same as traditional photography or LDR.


  1. CosPhotos says:

    Please view the photogallery so you can see a side by side difference in HDR vs Traditional or LDR photography.

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