One of the most important things that you can do to multiply the effectiveness of your content is to provide a visually impressive experience with it. Of course, you’ll want to use a theme on your blog that makes it fun to view your site and easy to enjoy your content but you’ll also want to illustrate your articles with lively, vivid images that really grab the attention of your visitors.

Today I want to draw your attention to one of my favorite styles of photography. It’s called HDR, or high dynamic range. In order to create an HDR photo, the photographer takes three images almost simultaneously. One image will be very light, one will be very dark, and the third will be normal. The light one will be able to see all of the texture and details in the dark corners and shadows and the dark image will see all the details in the light areas.

In Photoshop, the images are then merged back together to create one single photo that is now characterized by amazing detail and beautiful colors. The result of this process is seen below in the 15 images that I’ve gathered in this showcase. If you like these image then be sure to swing by the Creative Commons Gallery over at Flickr and attach the letter HDR to whatever you’re searching for.

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

15 Examples of HDR Photography

If you’re interested in creating artwork like this, it’s incredibly easy with the latest release of Photoshop. Open your photo in Photoshop CS5. From the top menu select image –> adjustments –> HDR Toning.

I prefer to change the preset to surrealistic high contrast and then I begin adjusting from there but you can select whichever styles you prefer.

These, of course, aren’t true HDR photos because we will only be making them from one photo rather than the 3 or more than true HDR uses but you’ll be surprised how impressive Photoshop CS5 can make your images in just a few seconds of tinkering with them.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

16 Comments

  • Wow, those are great photos! I like the boat on the beach shot the best!

  • Whoa Awesome HDR Pictures man!

    I never knew about HDR. So this is what they stand for…

    These images look really cool and appealing to the eye.

    I never knew they could be done through Photoshop CS5, so thanks for sharing that tip!

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  • Really wonderful effects. I’m a big linux user with the Gimp photo editor. Does anyone know what the HDR effect might be called in Gimp?

  • Nasrul Hanis says:

    Impressive!

    And I love the boat!!!

  • Really great pics Nick,

    Photoshop is really a great design software and has no comparison.

    Thanks a lot for sharing,
    -Onibalusi

  • I LOVE these! I thing HDR Photos are simply stunning and breathtaking. I’ve played around with HDR before, but have not spent enough time with it to get anything awesome like these. Good stuff. Beautiful and dreamy. 🙂

  • Ron Leyba says:

    Great effects man, and thanks for the HRD tip as well. Will try it at my own pics later.

  • There’s actually an iPhone app called Pro HDR that does this as well. You take two photos, mark the dark spot in the first and the light spot in the second and then the app combines the two images for you, after which you can adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and warmth. Highly recommended!

  • I suppose this will be the first negative post, but I do not believe in creating anything worthy using hacks.

    A TRUE HDR is shot using the bracketing feature on your DSLR. You them bring these photos into your favorite HDR program (I use Photomatix), and proceed to blend and tone.

    Depending on the photo and what you are going for, this can take some time (I have spent close to an hour on one photo), especially if you are new to HDR.

    Simply clicking an automated HDR button is PS5 may look decent, however, in my opinion, you are not staying true to yourself and should be ashamed to call yourself a photographer.

    There are too many “shortcuts” nowadays, and although they may save time, they will never come close to producing the same outcome as taking the time to work at your craft.

    Look at what Ansel Adams did with nothing more than film and a darkroom? He knew his craft, and knew it well.

    I will now step of my stool and thank you for the space.

    • GoCatGo says:

      You make some valid points … for the most part, I agree.

      The gimmicks and filters and hacks are fine … if they amuse you and your friends … no one is getting hurt, right? But they won’t produce results of enough quality to be considered truly “professional” in nature.

      That said, most people aren’t discerning enough to care … it’s a case of “good enough.” Why spend money on software tools when I can get results I find pleasing with free or cheap software … or software I already own? Right?

      My primary objection to the use of HDR has more to do with the actual aesthetics of the resulting image. HDR should not, in my opinion, draw undue attention to itself. The effect, as with most image adjustments, should improve the image without highlighting the fact that the image was edited at all.

      The shot of the bicycle and the photo of the cars in the garage accomplish this better than the others … some of which are actually quite gaudy.

  • This is an effect that I have been meaning to take the time to learn in my GIMP image editing software.

    It’s so cool!

    Thanks for reminding me.

  • […] 15 Examples of Beautiful HDR Photography – Site Sketch 101 […]

  • It seems like the picture were animated, very cool! And uh yeah thanks for the Photoshop short tutorial!

  • ELF says:

    Great creative photos.

  • John Godwin says:

    Whoa, some of these are seriously overdone. These are an example of poorly done HDR.

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