Darn that HDR, its so hot right now. High dynamic range is a technique that captures a wide range of luminance that standard digital cameras can’t do alone. HDR transforms the picture into an image that is more representative of what the human eye sees. Multiple pictures must be taken to achieve a true HDR image; several overexposed, several underexposed, and one that registers in the exact center of your light meter. So if you are interested in creating HDR images of your own there are some software that you would need. The main program that you absolutely need is a program that can layers and tonemaps your photos. The most popular one is Photomatrix Pro but coming from a college student with a meager budget I recommend Luminance HDR. It is an open source program and works great if you just play with the settings. You are going to need your standard photoshop if you decide to take one picture and alter the exposure in post-production. Given that HDR photos often comes with a lot of noise, Noiseware Pro is a great tool to have under your belt but it is a luxury.
These HDR photos are so surreal and vibrant that it has caught fire in the photography world. If you are interested in learning how to create these photos there is a great site that does a great walkthrough. Check out stuckincustoms.com where the creator, Trey Ratcliff has built an active community through photo blogging. Everyday Ratcliff posts a new HDR photo and uses the photo as a launch pad for discussion. They would talk their experience taking that same picture or being at the same place. Ratcliff refers to his blog as “the host of the party” providing the space for lovers of HDR and people who want to share their passion and know-how. Posting his pictures on flickr as well as smugmug Ratcliff has accumulated millions of views. Part of Ratcliff’s success comes from using social media as a way to capture and guide his audience into the conversation and steer it into interesting pathways. It is all about building that community through good photos, providing a canvas for your following to participate in, listening, and responding.