HDR and Hyper-focus Technology
Advantages of Using These Methods
What is HDR Processing?
High-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a technique used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. The aim is to present the human eye with a similar range of luminance as that which, through the visual system, is familiar in everyday life. The human eye, through adaptation of the iris (and other methods) adjusts constantly to the broad dynamic changes ubiquitous in our environment. The brain continuously interprets this information so that most of us can see in a wide range of light conditions. Most cameras, on the other hand, cannot.
HDR images can represent a greater range of luminance levels than can be achieved using more 'traditional' methods, such as many real-world scenes containing very bright, direct sunlight to extreme shade, or very faint nebulae. This is often achieved by capturing and then combining several different narrower range exposures of the same subject matter. Non-HDR cameras take photographs with a limited exposure range, resulting in the loss of detail in highlights or shadows.
The HDR photographer shoots sets of normal, over and under exposed images often referred to as Bracketing. Some higher end cameras have HDR processing built in. The Canon 5Diii I use has this capability. Unfortunately, these cameras still do not provide adequate Bracketing Range to yield good results in the typical situation one encounters when shooting in a home. My Canon only allows for +/-3 EV Bracketing. To achieve good HDR results requires at least +/-6 EV. Up to +/-9 EV in a home that is dark inside and bright sun outside. In order to achieve good HDR images we use a Promote control with the camera. We post process with the computer to provide optimized results. Another drawback of using in camera HDR processing is that the images are stored as jpg files, which severely limits any post processing of the image.
This is a HDR processed version of the same image. The immediate feature you will notice is that the view through the window of car and house across the street is clear and visible. Darker areas of the image such as the elephant on the coffee table is more defined to the point you make our features of its face. The colors are more defined and brilliant. HDR photography requires a photographer with lots of experience working with HDR methods. Using improper HDR processing, it is very easy to produce images in which the contrast and colors are over exaggerated resulting in un-realistic looking images. (Note: Focusing in the image below isn't sharp as one would like. See discussion below about Hyprfocusing.)
Hyper-focus: What is it and Why Do We Use it?
Why should you use hyper focal focusing? When shooting a photograph for real estate, you want everything sharp and in focus from the front to the back of the scene. Setting a small aperture such as f/16 or f/22 and auto focusing on object midway between nearest and furthest objects can help. But if you really want to maximize depth of field, hyper focal focusing is the technique you must use. Hyper-focusing involves shooting with the focus point set to optimal distance based on lens focal length, camera sensor size and aperture so that objects very near and far-away object are all sharp and in focus. This almost always is not the distance which the camera would auto-focus to. In the example below, proper focus techniques result in the items on the coffee table (nearest) and house across the street (far-away) all being in focus.
The previous image was focused using auto-focus of the camera on the guitar player statue. The following image is a HDR Hyper-focused image. In this image you will notice that focus is sharper. The wheel of the car across the street is better focused. The vertical slats on the banister of the front porch are clearly visible on the house across the street. The checkered boarder along the bottom of the window curtain is discernible. The lettering of the books on coffee table are clear and legible. This extra clarity is result of Hyper-focusing. A professional photographer understands and knows the proper hyper focus setting for the camera/lens combination he is using.