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Review: Practical HDRI

Practical HDRI by Jack Howard (Rocky Nook) Practical HDRI by Jack Howard (Rocky Nook publishing) is a no-nonsense guide to high dynamic range imaging (HDRI).

Read the rest of the review and find out how you can get a free copy of this book.

You’ve seen the photos. But hopefully you haven’t let the abundance of bad examples turn you off to HDRI in general—it is a powerful technique that can help you create stunning images that can’t be captured any other way.

I like this book because the author, in a scant 168 pages, has condensed a ton of practical advice and tips into a useful and unintimidating reference. Howard writes, “It is my goal to get you ramped up in HDRI as quickly and as painlessly as possible. This book focuses on pragmatic workflows, a healthy dose of tips and tricks, and real-world advice.”

The introduction lays a solid foundation for understanding HDRI and 8 bit vs 32 bit color spaces. It’s good information and I recommend reading it if you are serious about improving your craft… but if color space geekery makes your head swim, you could safely skip ahead to other topics.

Chapters 1-3 focus on gear and composition techniques with a bias towards HDRI. For example, the author talks about basics like shutter speed and lenses but always in the context of how those choices affect your images.

But chapter 4 is where things really start to get interesting. In this chapter, the author gives practical advice for actually capturing the basic images necessary for HDRI in the field. He covers metering, bracketing, manual mode, RAW and JPG, file organization and, importantly, how to recognize HDRI opportunities and non-oppoertunities.

The rest of the book deals with the actual business of using software to generate HDR images and gives detailed instructions for using Adobe Photoshop CS3, Photomatix Pro 3.0, FDRTools Advanced 2.2, and Dynamic Photo HDR 3.x (software not included, free trials available for download from the vendors). These four chapters are absolutely packed with useful information.

A bit of a warning: HDRI is a technical, often tedious, and time consuming process. Although the author strives to shield the reader from too much camera and software shenanigans (and he does a pretty good job, too—no one is going to have a nerdgasm from reading this book), the subject is inherently technical and you can only go so far without at least a willingness to try and bask in the geekiness of it all.

Definitely recommended for anyone interested in HDRI from absolute beginners to folks who have a few HDR images under their belts and would like some tips for improvement.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.com.

Want my review copy? Leave a comment with a valid email address. One reader will be chosen at random this weekend to receive a free copy.

This book was provided to Photodoto free of charge for review.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.
  • jen

    thanks for the summary. would love to learn more about how to get those wonderful HDR images.

  • Well I can’t pass up a chance at a free book! Count me in!

  • This looks like one of the most interesting HDRI books I’ve seen a review of. Although I start recognising the odd opportunity to use HDRI, a bunch of guidelines is sò welcome…

  • Thanks for the review.

  • HDRI is an artform just like any other. If bad photos would put people off, there would be no digital photography at all …

  • Joel Motylinski

    Please count me in for the drawing for the book.

  • Count me in.

  • Maggie

    Can we just say “nerdgasm” a few more times?

    HDR amazes and intimidates me. This book will go on my wishlist.

  • Book looks awesome – technicality doesn’t scare me if it produces results :D

  • Matt

    Ooh…me, me, me!! But adding it to the Amazon wishlist just in case!

  • Dana Schagunn

    Improving my HDR capabilities is where I presently see my biggest area for improvement in my landscapes. I would love to have a copy of this book to help me learn the finer points of HDR.

  • Jeffrey

    i do like books. I even like technical jargon(within reason).

  • Justin

    I’m always up for the learning the technical facts. Pick me!

  • I’ve seen some amazing HDRI photos and I would really like to learn how to do them myself. Your review sounds like this is just the book for me!

  • FS

    This book seems interesting for “Good” or realistic HDR ;)

  • And the random winner is #6 Joel Motylinski. Thanks, everybody.