Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blackout in Hidden Valley

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: HDR is a hot topic among photographers, but little is written on Low Dynamic Range photography. However, whenever one shoots through fog or in a snowstorm, what one gets is an LDR image. The thicker the weather, the narrower the dynamic range to the point where form disappears completely. A typical histogram of a scene in snow or fog might be a cluster of peaks all lying well within the top half of the histogram. In many photographs it's desirable to spread that spectrum out across all 255 levels thus mapping the misty, darkest tone as if it were black and the creamiest white as if it were bright white. Doing this to a fog or snow image usually has the effect of dissolving the atmospheric effect one was trying to capture. However, LDR images offer more tonal option before the image clots up than normal photography. I find they are also more sensitive to tiny changes, and moving an image from camera to screen to print is more taxing.

In any case, the work of photography isn't done until the light captured has been rendered into a finished image. How one chooses to render the image depends on what one wishes to convey. Here is a different rendition of yesterday's exposure. The only important change made was to dynamic range. I'm eager to hear what viewers think.