365 Photo Challenge for 2011 – May 30th

Today is Monday and the start of a new theme.  This week’s theme is all about another one of my camera’s built-in features – Auto-HDR.  I tried it out once when I first got the camera, and didn’t like the results and I’ve never really gone back to it, but I’m trying to learn the strengths and weaknesses of this camera and how to best use it in a variety of situations.  For those that don’t know, HDR stands for high dynamic range and is the contrast between bright and dark portions of an image.  The human eye is capable of seeing a wide range of brightness, but camera sensors have a very limited view.  In today’s photo for example, you’ll end up with the lamp as a bright blob with no details in it.  The areas to the edge of the picture would be almost dark.  You could expose for the shadows, but that would make the light even brighter.  Using HDR you can take the same picture at different exposure levels.  Usually this involves one properly exposed picture, one exposed for the highlights, and one exposed for the shadows.  Then software is used to merge these images together so that bright spots aren’t completely blown out and shadows aren’t just black.  I’ve done this a couple times on my own using Photoshop, but tend to forget the in camera option.  This picture was taken in camera and the camera did a great job of keeping the highlight details and brightening up the shadows.  The camera saves the middle exposure along with the HDR, and in this case the middle exposure has turned the right display case entirely black and in the HDR you can actually see the busts that are in there.  You could play with the levels some and bring the detail out even more, but I didn’t.

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