High Dynamic Range (HDR) Snow Photography Software
All of us photo buffs have had the challenge of shooting a high contrast scene (like in snow) where the shadows and highlights are beyond the dynamic range of any camera sensor. The shadows of these photographs often times do not show detail and the highlights are washed out. Shooting several exposures on a tripod and pasting them together in Photoshop is inconvenient, time consuming and often times requires the photographer to separately work out ghosting issues. Carrying and using neutral density and polarized filters is also inconvenient.
I recently used the $39 and $99 versions of a software program called Photomatix (http://www.hdrsoft.com/) that easily “fixed” some high dynamic range photographs taken earlier this month. The software is easy to use and works well. I now believe HDR software (not necessarily Photomatix) is a necessity to get the most out of the in-snow HDR photography for any skier.
I did not shoot multiple exposures with the before/after photographs below since I didn’t have the time or a tripod (I was hiking and fishing with a bunch of Cub Scouts). Instead, I simply took a single RAW file of each photograph, processed it several times with my RAW conversion software over and under exposing the image at .5 stop intervals (total of 1.5 stops over and under), and let the HDR software do its magic. The difference between the photos in each set is dramatic. In the second series, the snow on the right and some clouds are washed out. After processing the images through Photomatix nothing is washed out and the image has more “pop” to it. HDR software could make a big difference on my sunny day photographs this winter.
Note 1: These are far from being the best photographs of the trip, but they are perfect for showing how well the software works.
Note 2: HDR software does a lot more than what is shown below. See web-based reviews and the manufacturer web sites for details.
Edited by quant2325 - 8/31/11 at 1:17am