HDR Photography… Whether you do it, buy it, or both…. Please just display it for the world to see…

This was a post I originally completed for Mass Appeal Entertainment

I am not a photographer, at least not by trade. However, I thoroughly enjoy documenting my life whether it’s my latest dinner creation, something I have ordered out, an interesting sign, an oddly large Adirondack chair in Key West, a sunset via progression shots, or family and friend filled memories. I have always had a great respect for awesome photographs consumed by nature or amazing city scenes and I suppose I love these shots because I simply love seeing the world. I love seeing the world through my own eyes and through those of others. My newest discovery is seeing the world in ultra vivid color with crazy details that most human eyes overlook. These new visions have come to me in the form of HDR Photography and I am in love. Therefore, I feel that the world, at least those who are unaware, need to become aware, and will then fall in love with HDR Photography too!!

I was first introduced to HDR Photography by my Uncle, Glenn Spiro. He has a 9-5 but enjoys photography in his free time- whether it being scenery or subjects. He sent me the link to a blog site called Stuck In Customs and since then I have been sending this link to everyone I know. My Uncle recently started dabbling with HDR methods himself and I am excited to watch his progress. His latest HDR Photo is from a local square in Boston and truly give this North End square a new life.

(Glenn Spiro: North End Boston, North End Sq, night. HDR toward the painterly effect. v1).

You’ve probably seen this type of photo 100 times, but never knew it had a name. Now you can search and find new screen savers, wall art, coffee table books, or start a new hobby. Please read on to understand the basics, see some of my favorite links, some of my favorite HDR Photographs, and some of the most talented Photographers that I have encountered on my mission to share my latest obsession and discovery with the world!

Thanks to Trey Ratcliff the talented photographer and writer behind Stuck In Customs, I have been able to learn more about HDR Photography, understand the process, and view daily posts that contain new and inspiring images. As taken from Trey’s Blog, HDR is an acronym for High Dynamic Range. It is a post-processing task of taking either one image or a series of images, combining them, and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are virtually impossible with a single aperture and shutter speed. Trey says that the HDR process helps the photos look more evocative… and I agree. Simply put, when you use a tripod, take multiple exposures of one scene, being sure to capture various levels of exposure from under to over exposed images, and merge them together, your HDR Photo will be the result after applying a tone mapping technique. Tone mapping reduces the dynamic range, or contrast ratio, of the entire image, while retaining localized contrast (between neighboring pixels). The best pixels from each of your individual photos will be displayed and the result is smooth contrast displayed with incredible detail in the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows.

An example of various exposure levels and the merged finished product (Taken from Wikipedia)


Some of my favorite HDR Photographs:

Here is the original, non-HDR version of the Golden Gate Bridge. (vgm8383 on Flickr)

Here is an HDR version of the Golden Gate Bridge during a break in a 3 day storm that hit San Francisco.
(vgm8383 on Flickr)

This image was found on HDR Spotting, but was originally posted by Marco Waagmeester on Flickr

This image was found on HDR Spotting, but was originally posted by Pete Talke on Talke Photography and Places 2 Explore.

This image was found on HDR Spotting, but was originally posted by Walter Hsiao on Flickr

This image was found on HDR Spotting, but was originally posted by Antony…. on Flickr

This image was found on Smashing Magazine, but was originally posted by shoebappa on Flickr

This image was found on Smashing Magazine, but was originially posted by Ariffin on Flickr

This image was found on 2 Experts Design, but was originally posted by Tony Shi, NY-NJ on Flickr

HDR Time Lapse (Courtesy of sqbbe on Youtube)

HDR time lapse sequences made from 7.545 shots. HDR’s batch edited in Photomatix. Video made with Quick Time Pro and Adobe Premiere Elements.

It hardly seems realistic, but any camera that allows manual over- or under-exposure of a photo can be used to create HDR images!

Some of my favorite HDR Sites and Image Galleries:

Stuck In Customs

This is a great blog which has awesome photos and the stories to go with them. Trey promotes contests, shares his interests, photos, and videos. He also has a Newsletter that I highly recommend you sign up for!

HDR Spotting (Gallery)

The HDR Spotting Gallery is one to get lost in. Every image that you look at seems better and better from the last. HDR Spotting offers Tutorials, Software, and most importantly, their gallery.

HDR Spotting is designed to be a next-generation gallery for an emerging group of photographers. This site was started because long-time friends and photographers Trey Ratcliff (for more on Trey visit www.stuckincustoms.com) and Denis Khoo saw an intense desire on behalf of HDR Photographers to get their work noticed and to drive more traffic to their sites.

Their mission is to create an environment that allows HDR Photographers to share their best work and drive people to their respective websites. HDR Spotting is designed to:

  • Make it easy and beautiful to scan many HDR Photos at once
  • Provide an environment that encourages readers to go visit the blogs, portfolios, etc of the photographers that contribute
  • Provide a fun community that can be focused and provide feedback via views and comments

HDR Spotting is a basic free service. The site generates income from advertising, which they want to make as unobtrusive and pertinent as possible.

Contributing is easy! Simply enter your information. You maintain the rights to everything… If your photo is good enough, people will click on it to find out more and maybe jump right over to your blog, portfolio, or wherever you wish. HDR Spotting has a human-team (not AI) that will look through the submissions to make sure no one is posting crass ads or porn or anything.

Cambridge In Color

Cambridge in Colour was started in 2005, and has since grown substantially both in content and in the number of visitors it attracts. On any given day this site has well over 10,000 different people learning about photography, viewing the gallery and contributing to the forums

This HDR Post on this site makes the HDR process seem really easy and it also has a great tutorial. I would recommend visiting this site if you are looking to further understand HDR Photography or want to try it out yourself. They have some helpful screenshots, links, and a place for discussion.

2 Experts Design

This Blog was sent to me by David Santos. 2 Experts Design is a creative and graphic design resources blog that aims to provide readers to wide variety of resources such as graphic design, logo design, web design, advertising, branding, typography, other graphic and web designer portfolio, blogging in general, resourceful material, useful tips, tutorials, photography, colour, marketing and much more. The HDR post has a great example of before photos and the after result. Please see below:


Smashing Magazine

This Blog was also sent to me by David Santos. As a web designer he loves Smashing Magazine because “they always have great tutorials, free information, and tools for designers to use in their work like brushes, patterns, icons, etc.”

Smashing Magazine was founded in September 2006 and it delivers useful and innovative information to Web designers and developers. Their aim is to inform their readers about the latest trends and techniques in Web development. They try to convince you not with the quantity but with the quality of the information we present.

Nourished by the gratitude of its benefactors and powered by the reach of social networking, this community has produced a wide variety of high-quality articles, resources and tools, available to everybody. Every single contribution supports the entire community, and the community supports these contributors with traffic and word-of-mouth advertising: the networking effect at its best.

The HDR post utilized from Smashing Magazine displays 35 extremely beautiful and perfectly executed HDR-pictures. Some of them might look surreal, too colorful, even magic or fake, but they are not — keep in mind that they’ve all been developed out of usual photos, and not a single image is an illustration.

Wikipedia’s Entry on HDR Imaging

Some of my favorite Photographers:
Ben Willmore
Terry Reinert
Trey Ratcliff
Peter Lik (Not necessarily with HDR methods, but his clarity and approach are incredible)


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How’s Life?

How’s Life?
It’s nice to feel free, in body and mind,
to have a strong spirit that never subsides,
to surround oneself with positive vibes,
to move through existence past what just barely survives,
to take what comes as grains and with strides,
and to share a smile and enhance others’ lives.

How’s Life?
It’s nice to feel loved, respected, and admired,
to see and be seen, to need and be desired,
to live with passion and consistently inspired,
to work so hard and to push through being tired,
to overcome trouble without needing to be re-wired,
and to take action from lessons learned and acquired.

How’s Life?
It’s nice to grow and evolve every day,
to learn and teach to do as you say,
to release your feelings and from goals don’t sway,
to have the strength to know when to go or stay,
to accept and embrace or depart areas in shades of gray,
and to make ambitious decisions if the pros and cons aweigh.

How’s Life?
It’s better than nice, it’s simply the best…
After all if you don’t chase it, you choose death,
You get what you give based on what you express,
what you say, the way you act, how you react to it’s tests.
Word hard, play hard, eat well, and rest,
Be strong, have faith, and accept that with life you’re blessed.

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Mission 1: Introduction

I don’t know what my ultimate purpose in life is and I am not sure there is an ultimate purpose for any of us. I know that I have seen tons of articles and exercises designed to help us discover what our purpose might be (See below). I could do what I have always done and brainstorm on my own… I can figure out what I am good at, what makes me happy, and how I can make the most of my own life and then navigate blindly towards multiple goals and hope for the best. Or maybe I will do one of these 20 minute exercises and see what I can deduct… They say if you want new things, you have to do new things to get them, right? In any case, all I know for sure is that I can’t survive without passion and without purpose.

I dedicate this blog to myself, my peers, and to anyone who enjoys results and success. I believe that we have nothing but opportunity to lead amazing, successful, happy lives. Sometimes our opportunities are hidden by an obstacle, or a struggle, but still, the opportunity is there and it is up to us to work around whatever blocks the opportunity to reach the accomplishment that makes us stronger, wiser, better people. Success takes hard work and how proud could we really be if everything were easy? Some say that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I think that’s true and believe I am very lucky. I don’t win the lottery or on scratch tickets, but I am blessed and fortunate to be who I am and where I am, and I never take this for granted.

For the second time in my 27 years of existence, I was starting to feel stuck. Not unhappy, just that I was at a standstill, missing something, a vision, a purpose, a mission. The first time I felt stuck I was 23, fresh out of college, with my first shattered heart, and looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was the last person to realize that the guy who was receiving my love, dedication, and loyalty was sharing it far and wide. He was a charismatic, ambitious artist that I promoted and managed. He had given me purpose and goals; introduced me to a world of culture, music, and art that I didn’t know existed. I was so attracted to him that I developed selective vision. As we neared a falling out, I couldn’t help but feel that the reward for all of my hard work was a broken heart, broken dreams, and ultimately, an emptiness that forced me to look at my life and ask myself what I really wanted. On the flip side, I had experienced being in love (even if for the wrong reasons), I had a resume, and was given a chance to start over. The curses I was feeling at the time were the gift that has driven me for the past 4 years and I couldn’t be happier.

I finished school with a degree I didn’t want or know what to do with, but I put the past behind me, moved out of the country with $1000, got a job in London and backpacked Europe as a strong, intelligent, independent woman before coming home with almost $3000. Happy graduation to me. I discovered, not only can I survive, but I will so passionately and with a mission to infect others with my positive outlook and luckily, I always land on top. Some of my friends say I’m nauseating, and in a weird way I like it.

I finished gallivanting and moved home. It took me a while to get on my feet, I mean, I love my family, but after being so independent, living with my Mom was a difficult reality. My new mission started in January 2006 and I am happy to report that I have met all of my goals and it is time to create a new mission. I have a job that I love because it allows me to be creative, teach a team of interns, listen to music all day, and the opportunity for growth into whatever I want. I have worked for the same company for the last three years and that consistency and growth has been great for me. I have a new car that I LOVE to drive, my own apartment with furniture that’s paid off. I have great friends that love me as I am but still inspire and challenge me to be the best I can be. I am succeeding at all I set out to do, so I am going to set bigger, more advanced goals, and I have great excitement to see and experience more rewarding results.

This blog is not meant to offer divine discovery to anyone but myself. I am writing to create and document my hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly missions. Partly because I want to document my amazing life, and partly because I find that I stick to my goals better when I write them down and read them as a reminder for why I am doing what I’m doing. I don’t really need the convincing, but I am simply happier with a mission, with a purpose, and with so many goals and plans, it can be hard to prioritize. I am a believer that although we are all individuals, because I am experiencing something or feeling a certain way, other people are too.

I am not saying my ways are righteous or even ‘right’ and certainly, I don’t claim to be an expert, I’m just a Woman With A Mission…



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