Exposure Explains: HDR with Jason Ruth

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CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Ever wanted to dabble in high dynamic range (HDR) photography? Seasoned photographer Jason Ruth shows you how to get started.

Exposure Explains is a new series showing you how our featured Exposure photographers take their winning shots. This month we are looking at Jason Ruth's HDR technique, which involves merging multiple exposures together in one finished image in order to give a photo an increased dynamic range.

To get started with HDR, you will need a digital SLR or compact camera with manual exposure modes. Having the ability to bracket automatically helps a lot, or you can do it yourself manually by taking images that are over-, under- and accurately exposed according to the camera's meter. You will also need a tripod to steady your shots, and post-processing software such as Photomatix. Jason generally takes five exposures in the camera's RAW format; however, this number can vary depending on the subject.

He then converts the RAW images to TIFF files and performs some noise reduction, then saves and imports them into Photomatix. Merging the 16-bit images in Photomatix creates a 32-bit image. As most monitors have a limited dynamic range and aren't capable of displaying this true 32-bit result, you need to convert it back to a 16-bit image. This technique is called tone mapping.

Some of the sites that Jason uses for inspiration and with plenty of tutorials include Trey Ratcliffe's Stuck In Customs and HDR Cookbook. This is a basic introduction to Jason's method of creating HDR images. Remember that there are many different ways of making HDR images, with some techniques working better for particular subjects than others.

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