I’ve discovered Digg only last Thursday but I already love it. Thanks to it I read about a few things I had no idea existed. Of those the High Dynamic Range photography is a true discovery for me.

The basic idea of HDR (as I understand it) is pretty simple – the dynamic range of cameras (both film and digital ones) is far inferior than that of the human eye. It means that in a scene composed of bright and dark areas (like say, a room with a window on a sunny meadow) we can see details in both. But when you take a picture you have to decide which part of the scene should be properly exposed. So the photographer has to choose whether the meadow outside or the room inside should have proper color and detail.

HDR works by taking a few shots – some overexposed (burnt-out), one properly exposed (a typical weighted average) and some underexposed (dark) and feeding them to special software. It combines the scenes producing one image with details and proper lighting in all areas.

I experimented with one of the apps that do it, a French one called Photomatix. I don’t have such a scenes of my own, so I just played with the examples provided and I must say it takes some tweaking to get really good results. But if you make your pictures from the start to be HDR processed then you can get amazing results.

I’ve spent a few hours on Friday just admiring the work of HDR photographers. This technique can produce mystic, painting-like images, too beautiful to be a photograph yet to detailed and real to be a painting. Amazing. But you can use it to enhance subtly yet powerfully landscape pictures.

I have to buy myself a new digital SLR. If only I could decide whether to buy a Nikon D200 or a Canon 30D.