high dynamic range

Posted by Ellen

William Randolph Heart's San Simeon palace in California included two private libraries for the newspaper tycoon and his guests. Accounts of life at San Simeon suggest that the amount of time set aside for reading was not always substantial. But this is the smaller of the two reading rooms.

The craftsmanship of the room, including the ceiling, is phenomenal; click on the photo to see it in detail.

Posted by Ellen

On the roof of the little house in the middle of this Amsterdam canal-side scene is a sign that reads "Coffee Shop 36." It's a marijuana shop.

Posted by Ellen

 Photographer Trey Ratcliff claims he assembled this image from nine separate shots of a Dutch windmill spinning in the wind, each shot snapped at a different exposure setting. He could not get the windmill blades to sit still for the camera, but he was able to merge together a wide range of light and color details.

Posted by Ellen

An apartment building in Prypiat, the Ukrainian town built for the families of people who worked at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Two days after the nuclear accident in 1986, Prypiat was abandoned.

After twenty-three years, radiation levels have dropped significantly here, but no one is yet permitted to live anywhere in the Exclusion Zone surrounding Chernobyl. It is not considered especially dangerous to spend a few hours visiting the area, however, and a local tourism industry has emerged.

This is a High Dynamic Range photo by Trey Ratcliffe. The Hong Kong picture in the November 4 Good Morning was also by Ratcliffe.
 

Posted by Ellen

Photographer Trey Ratcliff is known for his high-dynamic-range techniques, which pump up the drama in his pictures, producing weirdly wonderful, or just plain weird, results.

The idea is that when shooting a scene that is partly bright and partly shadowed, a camera can properly expose the picture to show color and detail in the bright areas or in the dark areas, but not both at the same time. Ratcliff shoots the same scene over and over with different exposure settings; he then uses fancy software to blend together parts of the image from all the different shots.

Our eyes naturally have a much wider dynamic range than any camera, so in theory Ratcliff's pictures should be more natural-looking than regular photos. In practice, they look less natural--often interesting, sometimes beautiful, but almost always somehow artificial and extreme. I have mixed feelings about his work; here, for example, the sky looks spooky or fake to me, but overall, it's really, really pretty.