HDR (High Dynamic Range) is one of those promising and creative new fields that comes with the advent of digital SLRs and software that can merge multiple photos into one. The basic idea is that you “bracket” your images by getting different exposures and merging them together to recreate more or less what the human eye would see. It was something I loved learning about a few years back just a bit through the stunning work of Trey Ratcliff of “Stuck in Customs“. I read through Trey’s tutorials on using Photomatix HDR and got a copy for myself to try out later.

Later came and went and when I finally took my camera to some flowing water on the edge of Lake Malawi while camping in the hamlet of Meponda a month ago, I promised I would play around with Photomatix just a bit. Turns out my copy was several versions outdated, so after getting the much-improved latest version here is what came out of my painless time of processing last night.

On most images I will include the output version as well as what the original, unprocessed JPG images looked like before running them through Photomatix. You will need to experiment a bit with the settings to come out with what you think will look best for each image.

The more I learn about HDR, the more I become a fan and will start looking for further opportunities to get better.

What did I learn from this shoot and post-production?

1. Best to have a tripod handy. I was amazed at how steady I was able to keep without a tripod, but wished I had one along though it would have made for difficult movement up the waterflow.

2. I need to brush up on my camera’s options for bracketing. I wished I could have gotten 5 images instead of 3 to really give more information to the program to work with. I wonder how much better my images could have ended up?


I was playing around with some settings to see about some other options for a more dramatic look. With both of these outcomes I’m not entirely happy. The first is just too dark and the second looks a bit fake to me.

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