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  • HDR Photography Introduction

    Update – With my continuing interest in HDR Photography, I’ve decided to begin my own personal blog detailing everything I can about HDR, including an hdr tutorial.

    Every now and then I stumble across some type of new technology that simply blows my mind.  About 10 months ago, Joel McDonald, a friend of mine who I met through StomperNet, sent out a tweet regarding a photo he saw online that a real estate agent had posted to help advertise the sale of a house.  Since I’m also a Real Estate Agent, my curiosity was sparked, and I took a look at the photo.  My initial thought was something like – “Holy Freaking Crap“.

    Shows a normal exposure and an hdr photo version of same composition.

    This image is from a cruise that I took in June, 2009

    I wasn’t sure what it was about this photo that I had viewed, but it looked incredible.  It was in perfect focus, had an incredible blend of rich colors, and quite simply, it just had a certain WOW factor to it that I couldn’t figure out.  What was it about this photo that made it look so amazing? I later learned that the agent had used a technique known as HDR.  No, it doesn’t stand for High Definition Resolution, which is what I initially thought.  It stands for High Dynamic Range.

    Because I don’t want to turn this post into an HDR tutorial, I’ll just summarize what HDR is and how it will positively change the way you take photos and bring fun back into your life.

    The “normal” way of taking a photograph is to take a single exposure that hopefully catches a wide range of the various levels of light within the composition.  Since doing so is usually impossible with a single exposure, the method of HDR comes into play.  By taking 3-5 pictures of the same scene under different exposures, you can now import those exposures into your computer and use various types of HDR software to blend them all into a single shot.  You then end up with a photo that shows the entire range of light, which simply looks incredible.

    Normal exposure and HDR photo showing differences in details.

    I captured this image in downtown Boston on July 4, 2009

    After spending quite a bit of time online viewing examples of HDR photography that others had published, I stumbled across one site in particular that posted the best high dynamic range photos I had ever seen.  The site was a travel diary of Trey Ratcliff, which featured HDR photography of places Trey had traveled to all over the world.  Every day, Trey would post a new photo, which I’d anxiously await every evening.  It was an inspiration to see the beauty of his work and I quickly learned that hdr photography was something that I had to learn how to do.

    Fortunately for me, Trey put together a free hdr tutorial on his site, which detailed the steps involved with how he processes his photos.  I watched his tutorial several times, and then later purchased the hdr software that he uses and recommends, which is Photomatix Pro.  (Trey has an excellent Photomatix review on his website.) Over the course of the next 5-6 months, I continued to practice my skills of trying to perfect hdr photography.  As my images continued to get better, I felt that I needed to give thanks to Trey, since it was his website and his hdr tutorial that had inspired me to take on a new hobby that brought fun back into my life outside of the office.

    Shows the details that hdr photos have within them.

    This is the casino on the Queen Mary 2, which I captured during a cruise I took in July, 2009.

    Since I know quite a bit about seo (search engine optimization), I contacted Trey via email to see if I could “repay” his generosity by providing him with an hour of my consulting time at no charge.  He responded that he was interested in my seo consulting and several days later we had a 1-2 hour phone call.  In less than one week later, Trey had applied almost everything I had taught him to his website, and was already seeing the positive results it was making.

    Scott Kublin and Trey Ratcliff at Olympic Park in Atlanta

    Scott Kublin & Trey Ratcliff at Olympic Park in Atlanta

    When I realized that Trey immediately put into action what I was teaching him about seo, I knew that he would love to attend a StomperNet Live event, which is a 3-day seminar that takes place several times each year in Atlanta.  StomperNet focuses on search engine optimization and internet marketing and I knew this would be something Trey would love to learn more about.  So, I invited him to attend and he took me up on the offer.

    This StomperNet Live event was at the beginning of August, 2009.  I picked up Trey on a Friday evening at the airport and drove him to his hotel.  The next day, we attended some of the StomperNet sessions and got to know each other a little bit better.  But later that afternoon, we decided to skip out on some of the sessions and instead head to Olympic Park to take some photos.

    If you’re new to HDR, you probably don’t realize what type of an opportunity I had by being able to shadow Trey while he’s taking pictures.  In the online world, Trey is known as one of the leading experts on HDR imaging and has a huge following of fans, who just like myself, are being inspired daily by the photos that Trey posts on his website.  These fans would have killed to be in my shoes that afternoon.  Fortunately for them, I decided to bring my $80 video camera with me and filmed some of what took place, hence the video that is featured within this post.

    If you’re like I used to be, and can’t seem to get photos that you take to have that WOW factor, I highly recommend you learn more about the world of HDR photography.  Trust me, it’s easy to learn and you’ll look forward to time away from your office so that you can go out and explore and capture images of this beautiful world we all live in.

22 Comments

  1. 1

    [...] friend Scott has posted a new video on my HDR Photography that features me walking around Olympic Park in Atlanta taking photos. It’s up on his blog, [...]

  2. 2
    Eugene says:

    This is a great behind-the-scenes video of Trey… I also highly recommend checking out Trey’s HDR tutorial – I’ve used a few of his techniques for the creation of my HDR photos, which you may see here. Thanks for making this video and posting it!

  3. 3
    durgasprasad says:

    `An Introduction to HDR Photography` is great page, that takes away in to world tour, mystic places, great temples and many serene place, really enjoyable and had a real experience of those spots. Great Trey Ratcliff, seems to be young fellow with rich experience and thanks a ton to Scott Kublin who provided info. bat. him..nice time :-)

  4. 4
    Sean Swatsky says:

    Thanks for sharing this video and taking your time to put it together for everyone! You both deserve a pat on the back for shedding light on HDR.

  5. 5
    Dahveed says:

    Trey’s use of masking in the final image to hide that nasty HDR “ring” that is so common with the basic HDR attempts makes all the difference. Unfortunately, it requires some PS skills and a desire to spend some time doing “post production” to perfect that image. Too bad they don’t make a software package that does all that for the photog…

  6. 6
    Scott says:

    Hi Everyone,

    You’re more than welcome for the video I put together. I know that Trey has a huge following of fans interested in HDR and I knew you’d like the opportunity to see him setting up for various shots.

  7. 7
    drburotni says:

    great video. nice to see trey in action with hdr. not sure what he has in the flash hot shoe. thanks for sharing.

  8. 8
    Lyn Scott says:

    I love watching a good photographer in action. I’m just learning and it really helps those of us who can’t travel to the outings and seminars in other places. I never hear of anyone coming to San Antonio, but would attend if there was something. Thanks for the video.

  9. 9
    Christina says:

    Great article and video. I too am a huge Trey fan… thanks for making the video!

  10. 10
    joe says:

    thanks for the video- i just started with real photography a couple of months ago and found Treys website- i’m hooked and don’t have a clue on what i’m doing but having a blast learning.

  11. 11

    [...] is another shot from the little video I did with Scott Kublin. He followed me around with a video camera for a while and asked me questions. It wasn’t [...]

  12. 12

    I was looking at trey’s newest photo on flickr and came across your video.
    Great stuff, very good to see the formulative stages at which Trey sets up his shots. I was specially intrigued with the talk about the green leaf’s and going +-2 stops HDR to get proper exposure.
    very interesting.
    for my own part I have not done any HDR in about 8 months now and I now find myself wondering why not.
    the HDR effect the way trey does it really makes well balanced and Beautiful Images–I’m still a work in progress, hope to get there someday.
    regards to you Scotty, great site

    Evan Spellman

  13. 13
    kombizz says:

    I like your HDR Artistic work on your beautiful images.
    I wonder how can I buy this software and the tutorial video?
    Thanks

  14. 14
    Robert says:

    Nice vid ! thanks for sharing :)

  15. 15
    Steve says:

    Thanks for doing that full 45 minute video. I am learning about the HDR process now and that was helpful hearing Trey talk about how he does it and the histograms.

  16. 16
    Lou Rubens says:

    I dont mean to be a “douche-bag,” but I wouldn’t go as far saying that this guy is an “Expert” at HDR photography… I used to be into HDR photography, but I dont like how the pictures look fake and cartoonish. I’ve been working on my HDR technique for some time now and I find that dialing down the strength of an image file (in photomatix) produces a more realistic HDR image… I’m definitely not saying that I AM an expert, because I’m not. This guy is good at HDR, but anyone can call themself an expert. Aside from that, he is a good photographer.

    • 16.1
      Scott says:

      Hi Lou,

      Since the word “expert” is simply an opinion, people will have their own definition as to what they consider the credentials/skills involved in labeling someone as such. To me, he’s an expert because of the following:


      He’s invested a tremendous amount of time into this technique over the past 3 + years. (He publishes a new HDR photo almost every single day on his blog.)

      He’s published a book on HDR, which has sold out numerous times on Amazon. (You can check to see if it’s currently sold out or not here.)


      He’s given a presentation to Google employees as part of their “Authors@Google” program. (The video of this presentation can soon be seen here.)

      He soon will be presenting to Apple employees.


      He’s had one of his images on display in The Smithsonian.


      He’s held a couple of workshops on HDR, where he has taught groups of people how he creates HDR images. One of these HDR workshops was in partnership with Scott Bourne, who personally called Trey and asked him to come teach with him.


      And finally, the most important reason I consider him an expert is because his images look freakin’ awesome (to me).


      I understand what you mean about how some people overdo the HDR effect and make things look artificial or cartoonish. I don’t feel that way about Trey’s images. To me, he applies just enough tweaking to his images to make them come to life and reproduce the range of light that the naked eye sees when capturing images.

  17. 17

    [...] around with Trey! Image by Stuck in Customs My friend Scott has posted a new video on my HDR Photography that features me walking around Olympic Park in Atlanta taking photos. It’s up on his blog, [...]

  18. 18

    [...] around with Trey! Image by Stuck in Customs My friend Scott has posted a new video on my HDR Photography that features me walking around Olympic Park in Atlanta taking photos. It’s up on his blog, [...]

  19. 19

    [...] around with Trey! Image by Stuck in Customs My friend Scott has posted a new video on my HDR Photography that features me walking around Olympic Park in Atlanta taking photos. It’s up on his blog, [...]

  20. 20

    […] Through the Park Image by Stuck in Customs Here is another shot from the little video I did with Scott Kublin. He followed me around with a video camera for a while and asked me questions. It wasn’t […]

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