4th July 2010, 08:50 AM
"Practical HDR" by David Nightingale
A recent post (John T McDevitt)
Comparison of Various HDR Modes: Newbie Seeks Advice mentions the book by David Nightingale, "Practical HDR" (full citation: "Practical HDR", David Nightingale, ILEX, East Sussex, 2009, ISBN 978-1-905814-63-3). I've been working my way through this and thought I'd pass on some of the notes that I have made:
Very readable, very well illustrated with many stunning images – worth buying for these alone.
Technically at an intermediate level, not for first timers but for those who wish to improve their knowledge and techniques.
Most of the emphasis is on tone-mapping with many worked examples, following Photmatix Pro, Photoshop's built-in HDR module, and FDRTools. Each piece of software has its own strengths and demerits, eg: Photomatix Pro regarded as the best all-rounder, FDRTools seen as possibly the best for photo-realistic work, Photoshop's HDR software is integrated, but possibly not so versatile. Need to have them all!
Useful ideas on a range of topics. Believer in several exposures, 5 and 7 being commonly used rather than the “standard” of metered exposure plus/minus 2 stops. Also, the metered exposure is not necessarily to be taken as the centre exposure. The reason for these points is that the goal of multiple exposures is to capture the full dynamic range in detail. This last phrase “in detail” is the point that I had certainly not fully appreciated. As shadow areas are recorded at low levels of detail, because of the logarithmic nature of the sensor's light capture, there is inherently less detail in shadow areas. However, if the shadow areas are exposed so that they lie in the middle of the histogram, then very much more detail can be recorded and ultimately shown in the tone-mapped images. Highlight detail on the other hand is not so much of a problem, so long as one or more of the multiple exposures has no highlight clipping then that should be fine. Hence, the metered exposure may be nearer the “lighter” side of the range. All these points are copiously illustrated via images and histograms at various stages of processing via Photomatix Pro etc. Having looked through several of my attempts, some of I thought were not bad, the shadow areas barely get to about 32 on the histogram, not nearly into the mid-tone range suggested in Nightingale's book.
There are some areas that I think the book should address, if a second edition were being contemplated. Notably, given the publication date of 2009, a number of other software packages, notably HDRPhotostudio, Artizen amd Picturenaut were available with apparently wide usage. While it is unrealistic for a book such as this to comapre all these packages, some mention of their existence should be have been given along with appropriate links. This comment would apply particularly to HDRPhotostudio as editing of the actual HDR files themselves, eg sharpening, is possible via such software.
Hope these may be of use for any potential purchasers.
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