Arthur Jurisson Photography
HDR High-dynamic-range imaging
High-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a set of techniques used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than possible using standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.
Non-HDR cameras take photographs with a limited exposure range, resulting in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas. HDR compensates for this loss of detail by capturing multiple photographs at different exposure levels and combining them to produce a photograph representative of a broader tonal range.
The two primary types of HDR images are computer renderings and images resulting from merging multiple low-dynamic-range (LDR) or standard-dynamic-range (SDR)photographs. HDR images can also be acquired using special image sensors, like oversampled binary image sensor. Tone mapping methods, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect.
History of HDR photography
Mid-nineteenth century. The idea of using several exposures to fix a too-extreme range of luminance was pioneered as early as the 1850s by Gustave Le Gray to render seascapes showing both the sky and the sea. Such rendering was impossible at the time using standard methods, the luminosity range being too extreme. Le Gray used one negative for the sky, and another one with a longer exposure for the sea, and combined the two into one picture in positive.
Mid-twentieth century. Manual tone mapping was accomplished by dodging and burning – selectively increasing or decreasing
the exposure of regions of the photograph to yield better tonality reproduction. This is effective because the dynamic range of the negative
is significantly higher than would be available on the finished positive paper print when that is exposed via the negative in a uniform manner.
An excellent example is the photograph Schweitzer at the Lamp by W. Eugene Smith, from his 1954 photo essay A Man of Mercy on Dr.
Albert Schweitzer and his humanitarian work in French Equatorial Africa. The image took 5 days to reproduce the tonal range of the scene,
which ranges from a bright lamp (relative to the scene) to a dark shadow.
Ansel Adams elevated dodging and burning to an art form. Many of his famous prints were manipulated in the darkroom with these two methods. Adams wrote a comprehensive book on producing prints called The Print, which features dodging and burning prominently, in the context of his Zone System.
With the advent of color photography, tone mapping in the darkroom was no longer possible, due to the specific timing needed during the developing process of color film. Photographers looked to film manufacturers to design new film stocks with improved response over the years, or shot in black and white to use tone mapping methods.
Film capable of directly recording high-dynamic-range images was developed by Charles Wyckoff and EG&G "in the course of a contract with the Department of the Air Force". This XR film had three emulsion layers, an upper layer having an ASA speed rating of 400, a middle layer with an intermediate rating, and a lower layer with an ASA rating of 0.004. The film was processed in a manner similar to color films, and each layer produced a different color. The dynamic range of this extended range film has been estimated as 1:108. It has been used to photograph nuclear explosions, for astronomical photography, for spectrographic research, and for medical imaging. Wyckoff's detailed pictures of nuclear explosions appeared on the cover of Life magazine in the mid-1950s.
The concept of neighborhood tone mapping was applied to video cameras by a group from the Technion in Israel led by Prof. Y.Y.Zeevi who filed for a patent on this concept in 1988. In 1993 the first commercial medical camera was introduced that performed real time capturing of multiple images with different exposures, and producing an HDR video image, by the same group.
Modern HDR imaging uses a completely different approach, based on making a high-dynamic-range luminance or light map using only global image operations (across the entire image), and then tone mapping this result. Global HDR was first introduced in 1993 resulting in a mathematical theory of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter that was published in 1995 by Steve Mann and Rosalind Picard.
The advent of consumer digital cameras produced a new demand for HDR imaging to improve the light response of digital camera sensors, which had a much smaller dynamic range than film. Steve Mann developed and patented the global-HDR method for producing digital images having extended dynamic range at the MIT Media Laboratory. Mann's method involved a two-step procedure: (1) generate one floating point image array by global-only image operations (operations that affect all pixels identically, without regard to their local neighborhoods); and then (2) convert this image array, using local neighborhood processing (tone-remapping, etc.), into an HDR image. The image array generated by the first step of Mann's process is called a lightspace image, lightspace picture, or radiance map. Another benefit of global-HDR imaging is that it provides access to the intermediate light or radiance map, which has been used for computer vision, and other image processing operations.
In 2005, Adobe Systems introduced several new features in Photoshop CS2 including Merge to HDR, 32 bit floating point image support, and HDR tone mapping.