Alan dropped lots of hints for me to try something for him, and I finally got around to it tonight.
Cameras can’t capture light like our eyes can; film or pixels have a narrower range for light and dark. So, when you look at a sunset, you see the beautiful colors in the sky AND you see the features in the foreground just fine. But a camera gets one or the other. If you get the colors right, the foreground is usually too dark; and if you get the foreground right, the sky usually washes out. HDR (high dynamic range) photos try to combine exposures from different pictures in a nice blend. Hydra is a program that’s supposed to help you do it easily, even if you didn’t use a tripod and get the pictures perfectly lined up. It only runs on the latest Mac OS, Leopard, so Alan wanted me to try it.
I should have read the instructions before I ran outside to capture the sunset. They suggest a regular exposure, and then two stops underexposed, and two stops overexposed. I only did one stop brackets, so I probably didn’t get the best results. It was really easy to import my three photos; it automatically aligned them very well.
Here’s the underexposed picture, that gets the sky but not the foreground:
Here’s the “correct” exposure, according to the camera:
And here’s the overexposure, which gets the foreground:
Hydra offers an automatic blend, which I didn’t particularly like. There are two sliders you can move, giving more “weight” of the exposure to different pictures. I couldn’t see that they made a lot of difference, but that’s probably because I didn’t do the two stop difference. Anyway, I played with it for less than five minutes, hit one button to export it back to iPhoto, cropped it to get rid of the funky edges, and I was done. I was impressed with the program; not sure I was impressed enough to pay $60, but it worked well. Maybe I’ll try it with bigger exposure differences, and post an update later.
Here’s the finished product:
Sorry it took so long, Alan! 🙂