I used to hate High-Dynamic-Range imaging (HDR), and I still do… for most usages of it. I’ve just discovered it can be tremendously useful at times.
However, there is one situation where taking several pictures in a row, each one with a different exposure, and then cleverly mixing them is the best idea since the sliced bread: the pictures taken against the light (à contre-jour).
Such pictures are always failures with a normal shooting mode. It seems that the human eye, regardless of the fact that the iris (which acts as a diaphragm) is shrinking the pupil in high light, has a much better dynamic range, so that it can notice details that won’t show up in a picture, as they would be underexposed. Or maybe there is a “biological HDR” and the iris is “pulsing” when we’re looking at something against the light — I don’t know.
What I know is that HDR can sometimes fix the issues related to à contre-jour shots. As my phone’s camera doesn’t have an intrinsic HDR mode, I’ve tried two apps that can add HDR to most Android phones: A Better Camera, by Almalence, and Best HDR, by CM Group. Here’s what I’ve got.
From left to right — standard photo, HDR by “A Better Camera”, HDR by “Best HDR”, all with the default settings:
I’m sure I could get better results by fiddling with the settings, or maybe with other apps.
On the other hand, the effect of HDR (without enhancing the saturation) on the night pictures is negligible — standard vs. HDR by “A Better Camera”: Read more