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HDR with only one image
by Alec Green - Saturday, 7 February 2015, 8:12 PM

I know the theory behind HDR is to take a series of images at different exposures and combine them to get a high dynamic range but...

If I have only one image (in RAW format) and I create 3 images from it, each at different exposures i.e. -1, 0 and +1 by modifying the exposure in adobe RAW and then combined in adobe elements for example, then surely this is the same as HDR with multiple exposure images taken from a camera? Or have I over simplified things? Is it that modifying the exposure in a RAW image is not quite the same as setting a particular exposure in camera?


I'm sure there's a good reason why camera's have exposure bracketing etc I just wondered if I can cheat so to speak since HDR does require keeping the camera still using a tripod which I rarely carry with me.


Thanks in advance



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Re: HDR with only one image
by David Eales - Friday, 20 February 2015, 10:28 AM

Hi Alec,

Well you have chosen a subject which we could debate for days and which everyone has a slightly different view about. A true HDR image is created by combining 3 or more differing exposures of the same subject taken at the same time. Any deviation from this is what the industry refers to as a "psuedo HDR" image.

For me it's all about the final result, if you are using a single raw file and creating an HDR looking image from it and you are happy with the result then that's surely acceptable, regardless of whether it's an authentic HDR image.

The lesson to learn is that by shooting in raw you will always have the opportunity to create an HDR effect from that single file, not so using a single Jpeg file.

I will leave it to you to decide which route is technically correct, but providing your final image is what YOU want then either process works for me.


I'm the big kid in the middle
Re: HDR with only one image
by Alec Green - Thursday, 26 February 2015, 7:02 PM

Okay, thanks David.

If I have some spare time at some point I might set up a little experiment and compare a proper HDR image with, as you call it a 'pseudo' HDR and see if I can actually tell the difference. Only minor prob is my camera doesn't have exposure bracketing so I'd have to have the camera on the tripod and keep it really still while changing exposure and taking the pictures. For that reason I might do better with the pseudo HDR approach as long as the actual dynamic range isn't too large?