HDR, short for high dynamic range, is a type of photography which is used to capture a greater range of luminosity than is possible with standard photography. This is especially useful in high contrast situations (e.g., sunrise or sunset) because cameras are not able to capture the range of luminescence that our eyes are able to. So, that beautiful sunset that we see comes out with the sky looking great but the foreground completely black in our photos. HDR has been around for many years but started to really become popular about a decade ago. Trey Ratcliff, who runs the website Stuck In Customs, was the first photographer who got me interested in HDR photography. Looking back at my earlier attempts to create HDR photos, many of them have the classic “over-cooked” look that many people do not like about HDR. I got away from HDR photography for a while, partially because the software available was not incredibly user friendly, but started taking more HDR photos recently. I generally try to use HDR to capture the moment as I saw it (or at least how I remember it looking in the moment), but occasionally I go for something a little more artistic and less realistic. Most newer phones have an HDR mode built in that tries to replicate the more complex process of taking multiple photos and blending them together, but I still like the greater control of doing all of the processing on the computer.
I took this photo on a photo walk in Chicago, led by Trey Ratcliff. When I started processing this photo, I wanted to make it look as realistic as possible, but somehow I ended up with this result. It has a futuristic look to me, not necessarily what the city will look like in the future, but how it would look in some low budget sci-fi movie. I’m not completely sure what it is, but there’s something I really like about this photo.