About HDR Photography by Smoky Moments Photography

As you browse the galleries of Smoky Moments, you will find some images that are tagged as HDR. This stands for High Dynamic Range, and is used to denote images that have been taken and processed using this state-of-the-art technique.

Iconic photographer Ansel Adams revolutionized modern photography when he devised his famous Zone System to deal with the limitations of print film. He had correctly noted that film was not able to capture good detail in the full range of tones present in many scenes. If exposure was made to retain good details in the highlight areas of a scene the shadow areas would go too dark and detail would be lost. Conversely, if exposure was made to bring out the details in the shadow areas the highlight areas of the scene would go too light, once again losing detail.

Adams created a technique wherein he exposed film to preserve details at one end of the tonal spectrum, then adjusted development of the film to bring out details at the other end of the spectrum. It is that technique which produced the stunning black and white images for which he is so justly famous.

With the advent of digital photography, the HDR technique was developed to deal with the same limitations digital images face in capturing good detail at all points on the tonal spectrum from lightest highlights to darkest shadow areas.

Using a tripod-mounted camera, a series of exposures are made of the same scene, ranging from well-overexposed to significantly underexposed. Each of these images has within it an area that is properly exposed, from bright highlights to dark shadow areas. Special computer software is used to "extract" those properly exposed areas and "blend" them together into a single image. The resulting image presents a scene that is much like it was seen by the photographers eyes, with detail present in all areas of the image.

This HDR technique can be used to produce eye-catching surreal images when exaggerated settings are used within the image "blending" software program. You have probably seen this style of HDR in advertisements and music CD covers.

The HDR images you will encounter in the Smoky Moments galleries present a much more natural appearance. This reflects our intent to use the technique as it was originally intended, to create images that more accurately reflect the photographers' original vision. We feel the images we present will convey not only the visual beauty of our beloved Smoky Mountains, but  some of the actual emotion one feels when in the presence of Natures wonders. The biggest compliment you can offer us is to say you had no idea an image was or wasn't an HDR. That means we have achieved our goal of drawing you into the wonderful world of the Smokies, and away from the technical world from which they are such a blessed escape.

We hope you enjoy our images, and will be inspired to visit the Smokies yourself. Perhaps we'll meet on the trail. We'll be the ones with the backpacks full of cameras, the tripods slung over our shoulders and big grins on our faces!