I've been looking at the world of HDR photography for quite some time, but haven't actually done anything to enter it. That was until last night.
If you're not sure what HDR photography/imaging or high dynamic ranger photography/imaging is, I'll provide a quick explanation courtesy of Wikipedia:
[HDR or HDRI] is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures (the range of values between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.
I've been following the HDR group on Flickr for quite some time and have been really impressed by some of the great pictures. The thing I like about HDR is how you can change a simple bland looking image into something truly awesome. Some of the pictures look like paintings, whilst others look like computer generated images with no indication that the picture came from an actual photo.
Last night I finally took the plunge into the world of HDR photography. I didn't want to go to too much effort for a first attempt, so I did a quick search for a tutorial on Google and stumbled upon this great tutorial.
Now you're meant to take 3 or more images with different exposure settings, but you can use a single RAW file and just save it with 3 different exposure levels, so that's the route I took. The 3 photos in this post are my results (click each to enlarge), in order of creation. Of the 3 I think my first attempt is the best. I suspect this is probably due to the choice in images though.
Creating these wasn't particularly time consuming, and relatively easy. So much so that I think I may be hooked. I'm going to do some more dabbling with some of the other HDR software offerings this afternoon and see if there's a way I can do this with open source software.
Please excuse the watermarks; I used a trial version of Photomatix which watermarks the images until such time as you buy a license.