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If you are serious about photography, serious about creating a new vision in imaging then this a must-own.

Book Review – The HDRI Handbook by Christian Bloch

High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures; that is, the range of values between light and dark areas, than normal digital techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

HDRI has been practiced for centuries by artists when rendering paintings that look realistic. Now digital artists are using HDRI to create virtual worlds that are just as compelling as the real world since the physics of light can be simulated in their full glory. Simply put, HDRI is a method to digitally capture, store, and edit the full luminosity range of a scene.

The HDRI Handbook is 344 pages long and is divided into seven chapters. There is a companion DVD that contains software, HDR Images, and bracketed exposures for you to work along with, tutorial files and other tools for working with HDRI.

Chapter 1, "The Background Story," begins with an in-depth discussion of the ideas and concepts behind HDRI. Here the author questions the basic concepts of digital and analog photography. You will learn about how little progress has been made in digital imaging until now, and how HDRI has the potential to push those boundaries further than ever before.

Chapter 2, "New Tools," presents the tools that are needed for producing HDR images. Here a comparison of the image formats and programs are discussed as well as how to put them together in a usable workflow.

Chapter 3, "Capturing HDR Images," gets in to the meat of HDRI. It is all about the capturing of the images. In this chapter you will learn both about the scientific as well as the easy way. You will also learn about some research labs and about the future of HDRI. According to the author, it is only a mater of time before HDRI is the standard and not the exception.

Chapter 4, "Tone Mapping," will introduce to you the automatic, as well as the creative method used to reduce the tonal range of an HDR image while preserving all of the details. It is here that you will learn to create superior prints from HDR. Adding their expertise in this chapter are authors Uwe Steinmüller and Dieter Bethke showing their personal workflow in practical tutorials.

Chapter 5, "HDR Image Processing," examines the new opportunities for image editing and compositing. There are a wide variety of workshops that can be recreated via the materials on the DVD. Here you will see how the pros work with HDRI to create more lifelike composites for film and television.

Chapter 6, "Shooting Panoramic HDR Images," shows techniques for creating panoramas. According to the author, this is the cornerstone of this book because this where the worlds of photography and computer graphics really come together. Both Bloch and Bernhard Vogal; noted as one of Vienna's finest panorama photographers, contribute to this chapter. They show several different ways of shooting panoramic HDR images.

Chapter 7, "Application in CGI," finishes up by describing how HDR images can be used in 3D rendering. The author breaks down how the algorithms work and how you can make them work for you. In step-by-step fashion you will learn how to create the ideal lighting setup. Then the author takes it further and presents a brand new lighting tool-kit that automates the most common HDRI setup.

The HDRI Handbook is truly an amazing source of information on creating HDR images. There is something for photographers, graphic designers, and artists of all types. It does a great job of describing the current state of HDRI as well as the potential for the future of the art.

The author, in detail, covers both the history and the science behind High Dynamic Range Imaging and does it in a methodical and detailed manner. He covers the software, shooting techniques and about everything else that is needed to make you more proficient at creating HDR images. If you are serious about photography, serious about creating a new vision in imaging then The HDRI Handbook is a must own.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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