Cool HDR fun!
In the coming month, I am going to tackle a project that utilizes techniques that I have yet to put into practical application as of yet. Interestingly, even though I have never created a film this way, I think it will fit our niche much better than the previous three we made. In my latest endeavor, we are going to create a stop frame animation (sorta) and it is going to be shot using HDR photos!
What is HDR?
HDR stands for high dynamic range. Dynamic range is the ratio that represents the difference between the largest and smallest values of a variable quality. This can apply to our various senses like hearing and vision.
Take for example hearing. The dynamic range of human hearing with regard to pitch is about 10 Hz to 20 kHz. For being a human, this works out awesome because we rely heavily on our sight. Unlike us, bats have a different dynamic range in their hearing. Though it is dependent on species, some bats have a minimum hearing range of 1 kHz while others have a maximum pitch recognition of 200 kHz! Bats use such acute hearing to "see" using echolocation. Having such a high pitched range of hearing works out great for being a bat!
The way dynamic range applies to vision is the same as it applies to photography. Our vision has an incredibly high dynamic range when compared to photography. After our eye adjusts, we can see things just by starlight and in seemingly blinding sunlight at high noon. A camera, however, is much more limited in its dynamic range and cannot capture as many different levels of luminance like our eyes. A great example of the limited dynamic range of a camera is seen in blown out windows when shooting inside.
Look at the picture below:
This is a frame taken from my most recent production. If you look at the actor, who happens to be my brother, he looks like walking inside a house via a portal from the metaphorical representation of Susanna Barrett's cerebral cortex (something that I imagine looks like a giant empty white room). This phenomenon of the outside looking like a wasteland of idiocy is a direct result of the lack of dynamic range of the camera. If you were actually standing there, you would see everything that you see in the frame, but instead of a blinding white, you would see the grassy background and sky.
So what the crap? If I knew what was going on, why didn't I fix it? Two reasons. The first is that I did not have sufficient studio lighting. If I could have increased the luminance of the scene in the foreground to match that of the outside, we could have set the camera to capture a well balanced scene. Unfortunately, we were stuck with a pretty weak light. The reason that we didn't fix it on post was because he was wearing such light clothing. If his clothing had been darker and not blended in so much with the whiteness we may have been able to put in an artificial background, but because the light pants ramp perfectly into the blown out environment, we were helpless.
What HDR Looks Like
A HDR photo is taken with multiple exposures, in essence, multiple pictures with different levels of luminance. This makes a photograph look much "realer". Below is a picture I took of a creek. It used 1 exposure and is properly balanced.
Now look at this version of the same picture. It is 3 exposures in 1 but with limited effects added to it.
Now look at this picture. Because of the 3 exposures taken, we have much more control over how much light and color effect different aspects of the image. (Note that the shadows of the tunnel had been intentionally darkened).
HDR effects can be applied in programs like Photomatix Pro and you can get some really cool effects. The best HDR pics are nightscapes that have vivid colored light sprinkled throughout! The contrast between the lights and darks is stunning while still retaining all the detail.
I think that is enough HDR nonsense for today. Hope you enjoyed the cool pics!