LuminanceHDR is an excellent free software project for creating high dynamic range photographs from a collection of exposure-bracketed shots of the same scene — first it aligns your photographs using tools from the Hugin project, and then lets you choose between HDR tone-mapping algorithms to create the final image with. Here are some of my photos from the last year processed with LuminanceHDR’s implementation of the Mantiuk ’06 algorithm, with parameters of contrast=1.0 and saturation=1.2, all available under CC-BY-SA 3.0. (Since the thumbnails below are small, you might prefer to use this Flickr slideshow to see them up close.)

Volkswagen outside Republik; Cambridge, MA

Coolidge Corner Theater; Brookline, MA

Valentine’s Day Sunrise; Cambridge, MA

Schloss Charlottenburg; Berlin

Czech Senát; Prague

Skirts and Pants (after Duchamp); Lincoln, MA

Tower (DC); Lincoln, MA

National Museum; Prague

City of Light; Cambridge, MA


  1. That hits a bit too close to the uncanny valley for my taste. It look and feels like computer-generated graphics (which technically it is)

  2. Yes, that’s a common criticism of HDR. I prefer to try to use HDR in a way that makes the image more truly represent what my eyes saw — I think the first image is the best example of this, along with the two from the sculpture garden.

    I don’t think the “computer-generated graphics” criticism has much weight when HDR is used in this way: since I shoot with a digital camera, the image was already computer-generated. And the camera has an extremely poor dynamic range compared to human eyes, so there’s nothing “natural” about taking photos that have a pure white blown-out sky even though the actual sky was very blue. It’s all about finding the right spot on the continuum.


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