Trey Radcliff runs the photograph-focused travel blog 'Stuck In Customs'. If you regularly search FlickR for free-to-use travel images, you'll probably only have to search the favourites across a very small handful of destinations before Trey pops up: his photographs are quite exceptionally popular, and, due to his generous approach to the use of his images, have appeared on this travel blog dozens of times over the past couple of years. What often makes Trey's photos stand out is the contrast, and for this he uses a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, and now he's been kind enough to tell us all how to do what he does. All it takes is his free course, and a whole lot of practise!
Perhaps the best way to explain what HDR is might be simply to glance at the two images of Trey's I've attached to this entry. It can be a complex entity: many HDR images are based on taking more than one image (usually using different exposure levels) of the same scene, and using a clever technical set up to create a more vivid contrast between the colours than you'd normally find. While this can create a surreal effect, more often it makes the scenes jump from the page. Done well, it can make a photo markedly more representative of the real thing than a typical image is able to do, with the relative elimination of different lighting/ shading, for example.
The reason for this is largely contrast. While a single exposure set up tends to focus on one area, an HDR image allows the differently-exposed images to each focus on their own area, and then stitches them together into one, brighter/ more balanced image. While you could argue that the photo is not 'real', it's actually a better reflection of what you see with your own eye, which, clearly, also adjusts its own 'exposure' as you choose to focus on different parts of the scene in front of you. The actual process of doing this requires a decent camera (you’ll probably struggle without an SLR, or at least a very technically able standard digital camera) and a computer program, of course, but for those with a love of photography, creating images like this on your travels and hanging them your walls when you get back will certainly be of interest. To download Trey's superb free guide (and for a discount on his recommended program for constructing the images once you're ready to experiment), click through to his blog here.
It certainly beats buying a new fish-eye lens! Happy snapping.
Photos, of course, by Trey Ratcliff/ Stuck In Customs.