Author: Robert Correll
Publisher: For Dummies (Wiley)
Review by Conrad J. Obregon
Ive always had a problem with the For Dummies brand. I often read on the subway and I didn’t want strangers thinking I was dumb. If you suffer from this syndrome and want to learn the basics of High Dynamic Range photography (HDR) get over it, or you’ll miss a good introduction to an important aspect of photographic technology and even art.
HDR is a method of combining multiple digital exposures of a subject to create a range of tones in a photograph closer to what the human eye sees than a single camera shot reveals. In High Dynamic Range Digital Photography For Dummies Robert Correll explains the process of creating such images. While he doesn’t waste page space explaining photography fundamentals, he does cover the process in small easily accessible steps for the photographer who already understands how to capture images with his camera. After describing the equipment and software involved, the author tells the details of capturing HDR images and then processing these images, first in HDR software and then in post-processing software, like Photoshop Elements, including so-called pseudo HDRs. He also discusses creating HDR panoramas and black-and-white HDR images.
The book follows the usual jocular style of the For Dummies series (does the publisher have a special wiseacre editor?) including the cartoons and the usual Part of Tens. Correll demonstrates computer processing using Photomatix Pro, which is becoming the standard for HDR software, and Photoshop Elements. Photoshop users will not have much difficulty making the translation from Photoshop Elements but users of HDR software like FDRTools, which uses a different paradigm, may have a harder time. (Demo versions of most of the software are available for download.)
Although the book discusses each of the sliders and buttons in Photomatix Pro and what it does, it was almost impossible to tell the subtle differences from the tiny illustrations often provided. I also felt that the author should have spent a little more time explaining the wide range of image outcomes possible in HDR processing from realistic to surrealistic, and which sliders effect those results. I suppose there is no substitute for sitting down in front of the computer and playing with the sliders in Photomatix Pro with live images. Even though Ive used HDR software successfully for several years, I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around exactly what some of the controls in Photomatix Pro do. But for someone new to HDR, this volume is one of the best ways presently available to step into the process.