Overview of HDR

HDR Comparison Using Capture One 4.0

Phase One digital backs capture tremendous dynamic range. The new HDR adjustments in Capture One 4.0 taps into this dynamic range to easily recover clean, accurate, and natural detail from deep shadow and blown-out highlights. The process is simple and straight forward. Best of all, using Capture One 4.0 you can compare different variations (see image to the right) of HDR, exposure, and contrast to create exactly the look you and your client want.

An alternative method, Photoshop’s Merge-to-HDR, can offer powerful solutions in difficult shooting situations, but it requires tremendous computing power and post processing time.  Also, due to the need for blending multiple captures, the subject must be completely still making it unsuitable for landscape or models. In contrast, the HDR tools in Capture One 4.0 has none of these handicaps.

An Example Recovering Highlight Detail

In this example image, shot at Tribuzio-Hilliard Studios, the bright lamp shade is merging with the brighter windowsill behind it and neither has any detail. The goal is to reach into the blown out highlights and create separation between the lamp shade and the window sill without impacting the shadows. This is only possible because of the high dynamic range and high bit depth of a Phase One digital back.
HDR Comparison Full Scene

HDR Comparison Of Screen Shade

Reduce the Exposure or use HDR Highlight Recovery?

Prior to Capture One 4.0 and its HDR tools, the best option to recover highlight detail was to reduce the exposure either in-camera or using the Exposure Compensation slider. In this example, it took 0.8 stops of exposure reduction to create the desired amount of separation of the windowsill and the lampshade. However, reducing the overall exposure led to muddy shadows especially in the dark wood table. We could use Photoshop to blend two exposures together, but this would not provide a solution during the shoot, would be hard to make look natural, and would require additional time in post.

The better solution is to use the HDR Highlight Recovery slider. This will bring detail back into the highlights and blend the changes into the upper-midtones. The result is natural, clean, and accurate recovery of highlight detail without affecting midtones and shadows. The thumbnails below illustrates the difference between using exposure reduction and HDR Highlight Recovery.


Full Resolution JPGS