New HDR filming gives perfect exposures

September 1, 2008 12:02:15 PM PDT
A San Francisco photographer is one of only a dozen in the world engaging in a new kind of movie-making. Recent technology has made it possible for only about 18 months.

What you will see on the website below are no ordinary timelapse movies. Notice that everything from the sun to the shadows is clear at the same time -- all thanks to a relatively new kind of photography called HDR.

San Francisco photographer Chad Richard is one of only a handful of people in the world engaged in it.

"When you're setting up," Chad laughs, "you never know what you're going to get. You come out here, you set up in the dark, you point your camera where you think you want to be pointed, and you hope nature's going to do what you want it to do. But you never know how things are going to turn out."

Photographers face this problem all the time: What if you have a bright background, but your subject is in the shadow? Do you take a picture exposing for the bright part? Or take a picture to make out what's in the shadow? The secret is to take one of each.

Chad programs his camera like a computer. Every few seconds, it snaps seven pictures almost at once, each one at a different exposure. At the end of an hour, he has 7,000 images. Later, special software combines every seven pictures into a single perfectly exposed picture.

"These seven images are merged together into one HDR image, using Photomatix," Chad explains.

That leaves him with 1,000 pictures, which he makes into a movie.

"It's always about sunrise or sunset. It's definitely an early 'sport'. But, it's great to be outside, watch the sun rise. It's a wonderful place to be."

As this technology becomes more common, look for more HDR movies in commercials and feature films.

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HDR Timelapse movies

Chad Richard's blog about timelapse moviemaking:


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