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VINE VOICEon June 29, 2009
Almost as long as photography has existed, photographers have tried to make the images they capture look like the images captured by the human eye. The techniques applied have ranged from chemical wizardry in the old chemical darkroom to split neutral density filters. The most recent (and to my way of thinking, the best so far) is High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, which works by combining several differently exposed digital images captured so as to optimize the range of light of tonal values. HDR uses computer software to accomplish this. Instruction books telling photographers how to use this technique are now a staple of book publishers.

"HDR Photography Photo Workshop" is a recent entry. After describing the nature of HDR and the equipment to use, the authors describe the use of what has become the most popular of the HDR software offerings, Photomatix Pro. The authors discuss what they call the art of HDR, which includes the method of taking HDR pictures, and then discuss the use of HDR for different genres, including landscape, architecture, interiors, black and white photography, portraits and so forth.

The authors emphasize the use of HDR for extending the range of single images. I was a little skeptical about this process since it's impossible to restore tonal values that aren't in the image, and because software like Lightroom and the Camera Raw component of Photoshop already seem to squeeze every last drop of data out of the single image. After trying the authors' techniques, I found that it was possible to create an adjusted image in HDR that at least appeared to have a greater tonal range. Unfortunately I found that the suggested method of achieving one-shot HDR was too briefly described to really get the most from this technique. (Moreover, ultimately the five or more stop range of exposures is the real key to HDR success.)

That is the problem with this book. There is not enough technical information. The Photomatix Detail Enhancer screen includes 14 sliders and 1 set of buttons, all of which have remarkably similar and opaque sounding names. Adjusting each of these sliders can have an effect in presenting anything from a traditional looking picture with an extended range of light (e.g., more shadow and highlight detail then a single image) to a surrealistic image that looks more like a painting then a photograph. The authors provide only slightly more information then the tools tips that appear on a monitor screen when you role over one of the sliders. At most, the authors show a before and after image with a remark to increase one or two sliders to the maximum, or set them at the default. What is needed is a detailed analysis of images and then a description of which sliders should be moved how much to achieve a visual goal. This explanation would be further enhanced if the authors provided images on a disk, or downloadable from the Internet to be used in a follow-along tutorial. (I should note that none of the other HDR books I've read follow this model, although a few do analyze a range of images and show the adjustments made with an explanation for their logic and step-by-step pictures.)

The genre chapters are even less useful for photographers looking to squeeze the most from Photomatix. For example, it is common in HDR landscape photography to end up with pictures with halos around darker subjects that are quite unnatural looking. The authors might have told us how to remove these halos while still enhancing contrast. Instead they write about using wide angle lenses and creating panoramas!

(Like all the books in this series, the authors provide an assignment at the end of each chapter, and the image created by the reader can be posted to a website for critique. I haven't found this feature useful.)

Perhaps the authors didn't want to scare off tyro photographers. But realistically, the people willing to process images in HDR are most likely to be experienced photographers, already familiar with software like Photoshop, and not afraid of detailed technical advice. Those photographers are not likely to find much of use here. The complete novice on the other hand might learn the utility of the HDR approach by reading this book.
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on July 15, 2009
I picked up this book because I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and a desire to pick up some tips to improve my HDR that I've been shooting for over a year now. Well this book definitely has inspiring photos and some pretty useful tips, but it seems to lack that clarity of a well written tutorial that you can find online at various places. Two of my favorite tutorials being of course Trey Ratcliff's aka "Stuckincustoms" and Ben Wilmore's DVD (watch it on youtube). Both seem to go into greater depths of the "how's" and "why's" and "what to do if's".
Don't get me wrong this is a good book for those who are still new to HDR or haven't really dived into it yet and need some basic advice but if you've been doing it awhile this probably isn't the book for you unless you want a nicely produced book with great images that you can hold and read instead of having to log on and scroll down.

I was a bit dissapointed at the large number of single image HDR's shown and talked about, this is a small part of HDR photography and is very useful in a handful of situations (action,portrait,etc) but is largely not what HDR is about which is multiple bracketed shots, and many of those single image shots could've been bracketed.
The book mainly focuses on Photomatix for processing the images which is a great program, I would love to have seen examples with screen grabs of "what this slider moved here would do to this photo" ie: Take this photo of a barn and move the highlights slider to 100 vs to 50 or 0 etc. and show the results to explain the effect it has on images in a way that's easier to comprehend then just text saying "we raised the luminosity" Also most shots seemed to be taken on a 10-20mm wide angle lens, I would've loved to see more examples of abstracts, and macro's.
Errors in the text were very small and insignificant, however one error worth noting was in Chapter 6 - pg.149 referencing images 6-11 and 6-12 the text refers to a 3 shot bracket, however the image caption for 6-12 states it was a 7 shot bracket.

Overall a good read, I enjoyed it but left wondering what more could've been written and shown that would've provided better instructions and tips to a photographer wanting to learn and improve at HDR Photography.
I'd suggest searching for tutorials online first, you'll find plenty of examples and tips that might save you the purchase price of a book.
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on July 16, 2009
Not a bad book if you want to learn about HDR processing. However, this is really targeted for the more novice level photographer.

Positives:
- Well written and easy to understand
- Contains easy to follow tutorials
- Nice imagery but nothing that can't be found from the Authors blog

Negatives:
- 75% of the book is filler material geared towards novice photogs. Authors explains a lot about equipment, composition, and types of photos - all materials which can be covered in better books.
- The layout was somewhat irregular, not very uniform.

The author has a tutorial on his website that covers the over jest of the book.
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on September 28, 2009
The book is priced right. I was using HDR in both Photoshop and Photomatix and thought I knew the subject fairly well, but this author really has done his homework and tells you all about it in a no nonsense way that is very easy to read and follow.

Sure, some of the pictures are a little overboard in the HDR effects but are necessary to make the point.

I bought another copy for a friend and have recommended this book to a number of others.
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on August 28, 2009
What is HDR photography? High Dynamic Range, or HDR photography is a technique to make pictures look the way we see. If you've struggled with high contrast environments, neutral density filters, or just plain gave up getting a good image in "contrasty situations" take a look at these images. HDR can often "retune" the camera's response to a human's visual response.

There is another aspect to HDR which I will call imaginary. Some HDR images are more vivid and lifelike than real -- as if one could imagine color on steroids. Some don't like this kind of processing but I find it to be quite beautiful. I must concede though that this practice of HDR is moving towards graphic art and away from realistic photography.

Many reading this review are likely expert practitioners of HDR -- maybe producing images that can approach those in this book. As a novice practitioner, I'll beg their indulgence and just say that this book has beautiful images which opened my eyes and, in the case of HDR imaging, my imagination to many new possibilities. After reading this book I was able to take my own HDR images and process them to my satisfaction though I have more to learn.

If you're already facile with HDR techniques you may be beyond this book. If you see intrinsic beauty in new images and innovative art you will understand and appreciate this book. If and are not yet familiar with HDR imaging I can't think of more inspiring introduction.
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on August 28, 2009
I pre-bought this book, sight unseen. I have all of the HDR books on the market and by far this is the best one out there.

It contains all the basic information and goes beyond by offering composition and technical suggestions.

As an instructor of HDR, I would highly recommend this book as a textbook. The published images are outstanding and it is very easy to read. Almost all of the pages are "dog-eared" from references.

You cannot go wrong with this book. Excellent!!!
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VINE VOICEon March 31, 2011
My title reflects the fact that this book uses Photomatix and Photoshop Elements in the examples. You can guess from that that it seems intended for HDR neophytes.
As a very experienced photographer who has dabbled in HDR for a couple of years, I find Christian Bloch's The HDRI Handbook 2.0: High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and CG Artists more satisfying, though certainly for geeks only.
The authors seem to be big proponents of single-shot HDRs. I don't find this particularly useful with all of the options now available in better raw image converters such as Adobe Camera Raw and DXO Optics Pro. In fact, Photomatix supports tonemapping a single raw capture, so why futz with combining three variations of a single image before tonemapping?
It would have been nice to see some concrete examples of which situations work best with three, five, seven, or nine bracketed shots. How about how to judge when the exposure increments should be one, two, or three EV?
OTOH, every example cites camera brand, focal length and exposure settings ... though not which body. I got the distinct impression that one of the authors is sponsored by Sigma. As another reviewer observed, the processing setting info provided is sketchy.
The book would also be more useful with some comparison of HDR processing software and tips on getting the most out of each.
To sum up, this is an OK book on HDR photography, but not the best.
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on August 28, 2009
After taken my first course in HDR photography, I wanted to have a reference book at home that covered the information with easy instructions.

This book contains all the basic information I need for post-processing,composition and problem-solving with HDR. It has excellent examples, beautiful photos and step by step instructions. I like landscapes and I found chapter 4 very useful. It covers evaluating landscapes, light,capturing skies and creating panoramas.

I highly recommend this book if you want to create beautiful HDR photos.
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on February 10, 2010
Unlike other HDR books I have seen, this one is intended for Photoshop Elements users. The others are directed mainly at users of the full Photoshop program. If you're using Elements, this is the book for you.
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on September 6, 2014
The book is very good for beginning HDR enthusiasts. Lays a good foundation. Lots of info to get your photos to "pop". The only criticism I have is that the author tries to cover too many different photo processing software packages. Since I use Photoshop, I would prefer that the author focus exclusively on Photoshop. But still, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in HDR photo processing. Lots of good information and tips.
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