How to create HDR images with Photoshop's Merge to HDR

A couple weeks ago, I visited Zion National Park where I made some shots that I intended to merge into HDR images, and inspired by a discussion at my local photography club I thought I'd settle down to get it done. While I was at it I created a tutorial to share with everyone.

Here's a quick shot that demonstrates the input and output of an HDR shot to help you get the general idea:

Merge to HDR

The final HDR image represents what my eye saw at that moment even though the camera wasn't able to capture it in one exposure alone.

What is HDR? High Dynamic Range... Think of a scene that has bright sunlight and dark shadows. A single image can't capture all parts of the scene in a proper exposure, but if you take a series of photos of exactly the same scene while altering the exposure between each shot, then later you can blend the images together in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Wikipedia describes HDR imaging (HDRI) as:

In computer graphics and cinematography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allow a far greater dynamic range of exposures (i.e a large difference between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to the deepest shadows.


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Long weekend in Zion National Park

This past October my wife and I had the opportunity to vacation in Zion National Park in southern Utah, following the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas that month. This was my first time in the Southwest USA, and while I'm not inclined to return to the Las Vegas Strip, I would love the opportunity to spend at least a couple weeks visiting Bryce, Arches, and the Grand Canyon. I've been very satisified with the photos I've taken in Zion over the brief three day immersion, so I anticipate photographing much more from that region.

The Wikipedia article on Zion National Park begins with the following:

Zion National Park is a United States National Park located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature in the 229-square-mile (593 km≤) park is Zion Canyon, 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River... A total of 289 bird species, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), 32 reptiles and numerous plant species inhabit the park...

Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans; the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi (300 CE) stem from one of these groups... The Kolob section was proclaimed a separate Zion National Monument in 1937, but was incorporated into the park in 1956.

The geology of the Zion and Kolob canyons area includes nine formations that together represent 150 million years of mostly Mesozoic-aged sedimentation. At various periods in that time, warm, shallow seas, streams, ponds and lakes, vast deserts and dry near-shore environments covered the area.


We rented a Chrysler Sebring convertible at the Las Vegas airport, and made the trip to Springdale, Utah in just 3 hours. The highway from Vegas to St. George is largely desolate and uninteresting, but as soon as you get past Hurricane the scenery begins a dramatic change. I won't be renting the Sebring again because my eye level was the same height as the visor and the top of the windshield, forcing me to turn my neck and slouch down in the seat in order to get a good view, and even with the top up I couldn't get past the visor's annoyance factor.

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Video clips of Valle de Benasque and Llanos del Hospital in Spain

Here are a couple short video clips from a valley in the central Pyrenees, or Pirineos, in Spain. These show the mountainous region close the border of Spain and France, within the Valle de Benasque. My wife and I were married in a small church in this region, since her father and his ancestors lived in and farmed the valley using traditional, non-technological tools and practices.

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The Long Road to Red Hat Certified Engineer

Linux Pocket GuideIn 1999 I purchased my first PC from a local trade show where small vendors built the PC according to a printed spec sheet where the consumer would check off components that would comprise the final product. It reminded me a lot of ordering sushi.

My friend Ken Sugino, a computational neuroscientist student at Brandeis University, encouraged me to install Linux on it. I had never heard very much of Linux back then, but since Ken and I ordered identical PCs, both lacking an operating system, he recommended we install Red Hat Linux 5. Thus began my fondness for the fine grained control over an operating system and its applications that I never before witnessed on any Windows 98 or Mac OS 7, 8, or 9 system.

I recall that the state of Linux was still pretty raw back then and out of the box support for new hardware was often lacking. For example, when Ken finished examining the motherboard spec sheet and tuned all the jumper switches to provide a custom hardware setup, we moved on to searching the web for a solution to overcome a problem where X would not start -- X is the windowing or graphical interface for Linux -- and soon we found an esoteric hack for the video card chipset settings that did the trick. Much of my early experience with Linux was like that. It was the Wild West of operating systems.

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Geoff Bowers of Daemon To Provide One Hour Seminar on FarCry CMS

Geoff Bowers of Daemon, based in Sydney, Australia, will provide a full hour introduction to the open source FarCry CMS, including a preview of FarCry 3.1. This event will be on Wednesday May 24 for the US timezones, and Thursday May 25 for Australia/Asia timezones. See below for timezone details.

FarCry CMS is Daemon's flagship offering, an intuitive and extensible Content Management System that puts "controlled power" into the hands of the people who own your site content. FarCry is a cutting edge ColdFusion MX application framework for web based content management that blends the very best of open source development with commercial backing and support.

This will be an online meeting in cooperation with the Online ColdFusion Meetup Group which uses Adobe Breeze Meeting software to conduct live, online ColdFusion related seminars. This particular meeting will be synchronized with the local Boston ColdFusion User Group which will hold an in person meeting at the East Coast office for Adobe in Newton, MA.

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Recommendation for BodasDVD Wedding Photographer of Barcelona

I highly recommend Bodas DVD wedding photographers in Barcelona, Spain. They met with us on several occassions the year of the wedding to coordinate the plan and requirements, and they were very accomodating to our wishes. They even traveled 4 hours to the wedding without charging us, although we did provide a hotel room for them. Carlos and his collegues were very helpful and patient throughout our wedding day. The result was a one hour interactive DVD movie of our wedding and a beautiful, leather bound wedding album of 20"x30". Everyone to whom we showed the album commented that they've never seen such a beautiful and unique album, and they all complemented the photographer's skill and style. Carles de Gispert also runs the multimedia business of Inedita and IneditAleph, and regularly uses Adobe image and video design products.

Recomendation Recomend Wedding Photography FotographÃŒa GallerÃŒa Matrimonio Matrimony Wedding Marriage Marry Ceremony Professional


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IT Conversations Podcast on Understanding Linux

I recommend this 40 minute podcast of Peter van der Linden on the topic of getting started with Linux to any Linux novice or any Windows user a change to considering Linux. Peter describes the history and culture of Linux, with comparisons to Windows, as well as how to understand what makes a Linux distribution and how to choose one to suit your needs.

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Ruta HÃŒpica - a walk along an ancient path in Spain

A walk on the Ruta HÃŒpica, an old road through the Benasque Valley of Spanish Pyrenees. This trail starts on El Camino del Sol near Eresue and passes along a north-western slope until it reaches Cerler, and ultimate Llanos del Hospital.

Before modern transportation this valley was relatively isolated and had its own language, Patues. Many locals still speak Patues and the valley is trying to preseve the language by continuing to teach it in schools.

Un camino antiguo por los Pirineos Aragones en el Valle de Benasque, EspaÃ’a. Desde Eresue hasta Cerler y Llanos del Hospital.

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Barcelona Monthly selects my photos of Casa Mil‡ for February

My photographs of Barcelona's Casa Mil‡ were highlighted today in Barcelona Monthly, a blog described as:

The author's choice of Barcelona's events, worthwhile bars, restaurants, shopping and other leisure experiences.


FloridaVacationAuction.com -- Hey, I know that guy!

After some late evening blog reading I put away my laptop and decide to catch the last half of the local news. Channel 5 then begins a web site review in a section they call The Click, and they begin to highlight a website where you can compete for Florida vacation packages. I snag the Tivo remote and hit rewind three times before my wife starts to give me the eye, so I hit record and risk rewinding one more time. Finally, it hits me... I think to myself, that's Doug Hughes' new site, and blurt out, "Hey, I know that guy!". So I get out my laptop to start blogging this - at least its warmed up already.

You know Doug, too. He's the Alagad guy who makes ColdFusion-based software including Captcha and Image CFCs, as well as the new Reactor framework. :)

Turns out that you can watch the video segment on WCVB's website:

The Boston Channel, The Click:
Bid On Your Next Florida Vacation

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