One of the inevitable problems of photographing scenes with a “high dynamic range” (HDR) is that you can expose for the main subject, trees for example, or you can expose for the sky.  Usually what you get is a picture of the main subject and the sky is washed out even when it actually contains some nifty clouds.

I have discovered (not a first adopter here at all)  HDR digital processing using both Photoshop and some software by the name of Photomatix that gets around this using some heavy computing power.  Essentially you take at least three photographs of the same scene (you need a tripod here of course so that all the images are registered together) that bracket the “optimum” exposure, one lighter and one darker, so as well as trying to capture the main subject you also expose for the shadow detail and the sky.  Take more if you want, but three at least.  You then use the fancy software and a lot of computer processing to merge them together and select out the features that you want allowing the picture to contain what your eye sees … the eye being cleverer than the best camera in that it can accommodate as you look around the field of view.

What does this produce?  Here are two images from the garden this afternoon taken with my most sophisticated camera and a damned good lens – the first is the basic shot and the second is the processed HDR shot.  I am new to this so these are not perhaps as good as they might be but it is encouraging and I shall be spending happy hours from now on perfecting my technique.

Basic "reference"age - exposed for garden and sky over-exposed

Basic "reference" image - exposed for the foliage and with the sky over-exposed

HDR optimised image - lo, there are clouds !

HDR optimised image - and lo, there are clouds !