I am working on my next book, Photographer’s Guide to the Fuji X10, and today I was finishing up some of the last photographs for the book. I was making some HDR (High Dynamic Range) images, and I ended up with one that is not going to make it into the book because of space limitations. So, I decided to post it here for anyone who might be interested.
The Fuji X10 does not have a built-in HDR capability as some cameras do, although it does have a Dynamic Range adjustment that works with its special EXR sensor. The built-in DR adjustments can even out the contrast between light and dark areas of an image to some extent, but I have found that I can get better results using software that creates HDR images.
In other words, in order to create images that can present a scene’s lightest and darkest areas without blowing out the highlights or losing details in the shadows, I have gotten the best results with the X10 by taking multiple images with different exposures, some highly overexposed in places and others highly underexposed in places, so the images can be combined in HDR-processing software to create a composite image with the distinctive HDR appearance, which can seem surreal and somewhat unnatural because the entire scene is evenly illuminated, even though that does not seem possible.
In this case, I took several shots of this scene looking outdoors from a dimly lighted room on a bright afternoon, using Manual exposure mode, varying the shutter speed from very fast to quite slow, capturing a wide range of exposures. I’m not including all of the shots I took here — just three that are representative of the variety of exposure values. As you can see, none of these three images is evenly exposed; the top one is very dark, the middle one has severely blown highlights, and the third one is too bright in the outdoors area and too dim in the indoors area.
Finally, at the bottom of the page is the composite image, which I processed using Photomatix Pro, an excellent program that is available for download (purchase or free demo) from hdrsoft.com. With this software, I was able to tweak the result in many different ways to achieve various different “looks” for the final composite image. This one that I ultimately chose was a fairly standard look, but it has the fairly distinctive HDR look of unreality, at least in my view.