35 Fantastic HDR Pictures

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Applied carefully, High Dynamic Range-technique (HDR) can create incredibly beautiful pictures which blur our sense of the difference between reality and illusion. In graphics HDR imaging is a set of techniques that allow a far greater dynamic range of exposures than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to the deepest shadows. This is usually achieved by modifying photos with image processing software for tone-mapping. And the results can be really incredible; in fact, many artists and designers come up with some pretty fancy results.

This post covers 35 extremely beautiful and perfectly executed HDR-pictures. Some of them might look surreal, too colorful, even magic or fake, but they are not — keep in mind that they’ve all been developed out of usual photos, and not a single image is an illustration.

Please notice:

  • the selection isn’t supposed to be complete which is why we encourage you to post links to further excellent HDR images in the comments to this post;
  • there is no ranking, all pictures have been selected due to their outstanding quality and excellent execution;
  • you can explore further works of the designers and photographers we’ve featured below by browsing through their sets on Flickr;
  • all screenshots are clickable and lead to the pages from which they’ve been taken;
  • you might want to take a look at the article (Really) Stunning Desktop Wallpapers1 we’ve published earlier.

Fantastic HDR Pictures

HDR Photos - Something_to_see_here_32

HDR Photos - Dranesville Tavern3

HDR Photos - untitled4

HDR Photos - A postcard for the Margarita island5

HDR Photos - One Night in Bangkok6

HDR Photos - Caracara takes off7

HDR Photos - Los Tres Magia8

HDR Photos - 871 @ Sattahip Naval Base (Thailand)9

HDR Photos - Golden Gate HDR10

HDR Photos - Inverted Vertigo11

HDR Photos - Helix Nebula Over Paris DRI12

HDR Photos - From above...13

HDR Photos - Catedral de Malaga 2 (HDR)14

HDR Photos - Sparkle in Her Eye - HDR15

HDR Photos - The Solitude of the Fisherman16

HDR Photos - Greece is the word...17

HDR Photos - My own peace of mind - HDR by *equinoxe7 on deviantART18

HDR Photos - Devil Hotel19

HDR Photos - Home_is_where_the_cello_is20

HDR Photos - The Veins of Bangkok21

HDR Photos - captured emotion22

HDR Photos - Heart of Satan - What it looks like when fireworks explode inside of a storm cloud over a river23

HDR Photos - Bridge24

HDR Photos - foggy wood (Published in March 08 National Geographic)25

HDR Photos - City at 60 degrees North / Icebreaker Krasin26

HDR Photos - Mistral Action27

HDR Photos - Breakwater @ Pirita28

HDR Photos - : Photo by Photographer Maciek Duczynski29

HDR Photos - A Mushroom with a view30

HDR Photos - ECO Lake31

HDR Photos - Icy Landscape32

HDR Photos - A cokin sunset33

HDR Photos - Clark Quay Reflected34

HDR Photos - I have sailed the seven seas ...35

HDR Photos - The Aliens Have Landed36

HDR Photos - City of lights37

HDR Photos - Flickr: Discussing Your Best HDR Sunrise or Sunset in HDR Unlimited38

Sources and Further Resources

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/02/12/really-stunning-desktop-wallpapers/
  2. 2 http://flickr.com/photos/shoebappa/1156912539/
  3. 3 http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregoryhughdavidson/1103684653/
  4. 4 http://flickr.com/photos/stevenarens/792191425/
  5. 5 http://flickr.com/photos/atrium09/409849443/in/set-72157594360499066/
  6. 6 http://flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/300341306/in/set-72057594049344877/
  7. 7 http://www.flickr.com/photos/wili/2090459727/
  8. 8 http://www.flickr.com/photos/dimitridepaepe/960121889/
  9. 9 http://www.flickr.com/photos/pi-production/2259776827/
  10. 10 http://www.flickr.com/photos/9147703@N03/2176897085/
  11. 11 http://flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/403608395/
  12. 12 http://www.flickr.com/photos/thepretender/2259664575/in/set-340265/
  13. 13 http://flickr.com/photos/black_velvet/401272463/
  14. 14 http://flickr.com/photos/atrium09/455448365/
  15. 15 http://www.flickr.com/photos/residae/386002977/
  16. 16 http://flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/477846714/
  17. 17 http://flickr.com/photos/elementalpaul/2261257446/in/pool-hdr
  18. 18 http://equinoxe7.deviantart.com/art/My-own-peace-of-mind-HDR-66318869
  19. 19 http://www.flickr.com/photos/valpopando/1963947845/
  20. 20 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmarcx/1992322836/
  21. 21 http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/310074290
  22. 22 http://www.flickr.com/photos/niklens/155636436/
  23. 23 http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/752319396/
  24. 24 http://studiophototrope.wordpress.com/
  25. 25 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynchburgvirginia/407618927/
  26. 26 http://flickr.com/photos/photopavel/381939699/
  27. 27 http://www.flickr.com/photos/airellere/290879810/
  28. 28 http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgaponenko/293182942/
  29. 29 http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=4920356
  30. 30 http://www.flickr.com/photos/dimitridepaepe/1885164835/
  31. 31 http://www.flickr.com/photos/espionic/671937790/
  32. 32 http://flickr.com/photos/usbdevice/2050078770/
  33. 33 http://www.flickr.com/photos/murtasma/730847627/
  34. 34 http://flickr.com/photos/danielcheong/423766080/
  35. 35 http://flickr.com/photos/asmundur/133381950/
  36. 36 http://flickr.com/photos/gregscargill/2276338233/in/pool-bestofhdrpictures
  37. 37 http://flickr.com/photos/manuperez/305828149/
  38. 38 http://flickr.com/groups/hdrunlimited/discuss/72157600564290886/#comment72157603859102754
  39. 39 http://www.pixelandpoly.com/nyc_in_hdr.html
  40. 40 http://abduzeedo.com/20-beautiful-hdr-pictures
  41. 41 http://hdrcreme.com/
  42. 42 http://tutorialblog.org/hdr-tutorials-roundup/
  43. 43 http://flickr.com/groups/the_biggest_buildings_in_hdr/pool/
  44. 44 http://www.hdrjapan.com/
  45. 45 http://www.revver.com/video/602882/learn-how-to-create-hdr-photos-in-photoshop/
  46. 46 http://flickr.com/photos/atrium09/sets/72157594360499066/
  47. 47 http://flickr.com/groups/98936892@N00/pool/
  48. 48 http://flickr.com/groups/bestofhdrpictures/pool/
  49. 49 http://flickr.com/groups/84808663@N00/pool/
  50. 50 http://flickr.com/groups/the_biggest_buildings_in_hdr/pool/
  51. 51 http://flickr.com/groups/qualityhdr/pool/
  52. 52 http://flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/sets/72157603505606537/

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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  1. 1

    wuoooooww!!!!
    Excelentes imágenes!

    0
  2. 102

    Great pictures! i’ll be looking for some from Africa. T

    0
  3. 203

    Truly horrible, Most of them wouldn’t look out of place on a cheap holiday gift
    eg: tea tray, biscuit tin lid.

    2
  4. 304

    STEPHEN KIRKPATRICK

    March 27, 2008 7:55 am

    GARBAGE!

    1
  5. 405

    Not my style. Too artificial.
    The colors are very dark vivid.

    1
  6. 506

    Owww! My eyes!

    Two or three of these aren’t bad but, overall, yuck! It’s the black velvet Elvis painting of photography.

    2
  7. 607

    Fantastic pictures. Lots of inspiration to us budding photographers. I hope to see more again soon.

    0
  8. 708

    most are over done with the light smoothing. the key to a good HDR is to make people not know if it is infact an HDR. cool images though.

    0
  9. 809

    if developed “out of usual photos”: looks magic (+time factor :)) but it seemed, I’ve got a digital photo… translates some of used effects (here on sky, there on water); sure, it wasn’t very easy to take it…

    0
  10. 910

    attribution?

    Way to rip off the photographers, blogspam.

    1
  11. 1011

    Maquetes Eletronincas Perspectiva 3d Fortaleza Portugal

    March 31, 2008 9:02 am

    Very nice ! i love the pictures!

    0
  12. 1112

    Horrible tastless kitch. Algorithmic street market art :)

    0
  13. 1213

    To me, HDR is the photographic equivalent of eighties synths imitating saxophones. People can tell it’s supposed to sound like a sax, but sure as hell doesn’t. Not only that, it’s just plain ugly, and most people agree. The people that are making those images are not photographers, but fiddlers who like to push technological limits beyond the boundaries of taste. Sadly, I think HDR will slowly take hold…the last few National Geographics I’ve received have had a few strangely HDR-ish images Subtle, but still having that rubbery shadows appearance. The biggest laugh is when HDR-philes claim it is more able to accurately imitate what the human eye sees. Well, maybe on acid….

    -1
  14. 1314

    so much negativity i should think everyone has 10 times better in every room of their home which they did them selves . As for me i think them all to be interesting pieces of art . Personally i dislike the MonaLisa……….

    -1
  15. 1415

    WOW… this list looks pretty exciting.

    0
  16. 1516

    very very beautiful …

    0
  17. 1617

    Good old AA was the first HDR photographer. He captured a greater range, using a development technique called ‘pulling’ to reduce the contrast of the negative in order to preserve a greater range of information on his negatives. This was developed into what was called the Zone technique. Since his time, film curves have gotten less steep (indicating a greater range of a workable negative).

    All photographers when starting out with this technique inevitably make prints that are too flat or too contrasty. It is very difficult to change the dynamic range of the eye into a photograph and then to produce an (apparently) accurate dynamic range from the photo. Masters of this technique, Ansel Adams and Minor White, among a many others, produce images that vary in dynamic range greatly from what the eye sees, or what a straight print would produce, but do not appear unnatural.

    That is to say, it is not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ to effect the dynamic range of a photography. However, it does reflect a mastery of the technique when this technique does not impact the viewing of the image. It is also to say that HDR simply means “high dynamic range,” where “high” can only be assumed to be used relatively. Considering the history of photography has included with it a steady increase of the dynamic range of its medium, the extension of “HDR” is constantly shifting. “True HDR” is either meaningless or requires a certain context to be defined. The same can and should be said of “True Photography.” Have any of you ever shot without a light meter? Perhaps THAT is true photography, since this how it began.

    Further, we should remember (or learn for the first time) Kant. He (basically) told us that a beautiful painting is not, should not be beautiful simply because we like painting, or this painter, or this kind of painting. A photograph is not, should not, be beautiful simply because it uses HDR. It is beautiful because it excites our imagination and our understanding, puts them endlessly into play and raises our minds awareness of itself and humanity. Or something like that.

    0
  18. 1718

    BOoooooooooooobm!!!!! It ‘s like dream.

    0
  19. 1819

    Crescencio "Krébus" Leite

    April 10, 2008 5:12 am

    What so many wonderful pictures! Congratulations!

    Krébus, from Brazil.

    0
  20. 1920

    These are mostly awful and totally unrealistic. HDR can be a great technique, but the tone-mapping software still has many shortcomings and requires quite a bit of postprocessing to give good results. The results straight out of the tone-mapping software is mostly oversaturated and ‘muddy’ and quite a few times suffers from halos.

    0
  21. 2021

    very nice

    0
  22. 2122

    I’m not an expert on HDR technology but if the intention is to capture the intensity of the moment then HDR has achieved its purpose. Besides, I think most experts find ways to discredit rather than enjoy a profound work of art.

    0
  23. 2223

    are very nice picture but please to make other picture to this form help us
    thank you:)

    0
  24. 2324

    i dont see the point in this, watever hapened to appreciating an original untampered photo???

    1
  25. 2425

    Okay, first of all, all you haters need to get over yourselves. This is clearly an amature attempt to create HDR imagery, but you don’t need to shoot the photos down horrificly as if you know everything you are talking about .You are pathetically trying to prove your significant superiority. While some of these may seem to provide a cartoon halo kind of look, it was a good attempt, but would not be classified as HDR. HDR is simply molding a series of differently lighted images of the same frame together to create light and focus throughout the entire photograph- Period dot!

    I may not know too much about HDR myself because this is only my second year in a photography as a profession, but i know that art itself is an entirely wide open subject. Anything can be depicted as art, it just depends on the consumer. Such as when rap took its claim to fame…many of us decided “it was simply nothing in comparrison to the performing arts” and others decided “this is totally rad dog!” Either way 50 cent is still a millionare and haters are still stuck bickering with nothing close to comparrison.

    While many of you may say these images are herendous and a horrid attempt at HDR, i beg to differ…they may not replucate true HDR images but i see them as good valid attempts, and there is simply nothing quixotic about that! I mean god what do all of you assholes want, an effing cookie??

    So all and all, haters go home and get to work, until you come back with something for everyone to critique YOU on, shut the hell up and let people find their nitch.

    0
  26. 2526

    I kind of wish we see the world in this way…all bright and colorful.

    0
  27. 2627

    Nneeeh… I can call fantastic just six pictures… Rest of this set is very ugly — I don’t like such “HDR” at all.

    0
  28. 2728

    it’s……fantastic, gorgeous, amazing….. no words…. only emotiouns….

    0
  29. 2829

    Nature is plain lame in comparison. I don’t ever have to go outside anymore for fear of being unimpressed. Who needs nature when it can be glorified on a computer screen!

    HAIL HDR!

    0
  30. 2930

    lol… the 6th to last one, orange sunset… check out those Chem trails in the sky!! Government at work trying to kill us.

    -1
  31. 3031

    Why could not the pictures with the birds flying be genuine HDR attempts? Rather than taking multiple shots and merge them for HDR, we could also have just one RAW file, and come up with such HDR images, right?

    0
  32. 3132

    Sure, it will probably take hold. Why, well when photographs first came around people felt that it was taking away from the paintings that people had been making for thousands of years. Did photographs take hold? You be they did because they are desirable. This is the same thing, sounds like someone doesn’t want to give up their rotery dial phone.

    -1
  33. 3233

    looks so unreal. feels like too much flavor in a meal.
    just fake.

    0
  34. 3334

    wow just leaned about HDR looks cool but also now know that photogs are winy pussy’s

    0
  35. 3435

    Fake

    -1
  36. 3536
  37. 3637

    Very Good Images

    Tankxxxxxxxxxx

    0
  38. 3738

    photoshopped!

    1
  39. 3839

    uh, photography is a form of art and these pics are about taking fascinating photos and making them even more fascinating with the hdr. your a jack ass.

    0
  40. 3940

    why does everyone care so much about if they’re classified as “Real” HDR pictures or not??
    stop being all snooty and pretentious because you know something about photography. no one is impressed and we all think you’re douchebags.

    1
  41. 4041

    You should really look into each of these pictures, because some of them are heavily photoshopped… like the picture of Paris with a MASSIVE Nebula over it? Not HDR.

    1
  42. 4142

    These enchanting images have a dreamlike quality that remind me of scenes from movies enhanced by uber digital wizardry. Looks like Hollywood’s been using Photoshop.

    0
  43. 4243

    Thanks for this fantastics photos.

    Here is a compilation of 13 HDR photos for your desktop:
    http://blog.nicolargo.com/2008/06/compilation-de-13-fonds-decran-hdr.html

    0
  44. 4344

    Either way, they are stunning photographs. Not one I wasn’t impressed with.

    0
  45. 4445

    like, W-O-W.
    Super coooooooooooooooooool:D

    0
  46. 4546

    Nice, although HDR images like these can sometimes not appear “realistic.” A photographer should strive for realisim. Just my opinion. HDR tools can make realistic photos, very vibrant, and nice. It is only when it is taken to an extreme that it creates “false” looking photos.

    2
  47. 4647

    Being an HDR expert (I found out about it yesterday and have produced all of 2 images) I’d say that often less is more.

    On too many images I’m seeing a good interesting shot but a ridiculas sky that looks like it was cut from another image. It’s got all the subtlety and class of Ali G’s jewelry.

    I think I’m going to use HDR a lot, but to create images that look ‘full’ rather than something that looks like it’s was done on a ‘puter.

    It’s the same when image processing software became popular, there’d be loads of nastily applied filters smacking you in the face.

    3
  48. 4748

    huiiiii

    very very beautiful

    amazing

    0
  49. 4849

    In response to John’s comment:
    You might want to look at a photo of San Francisco, the grass and houses you refer to are the Presidio (and I assure you that it’s REALLY there). You can’t see the “city” because downtown SF is further to the left. I’ll give you that the effect looks fake (although, presumably that is exactly what was intended), but at least get your facts straight before criticizing.

    0
  50. 4950

    yup, i also discover HDR technique about 1,5yr ago after browsing flickr.. shooting HDR since..
    another beautiful HDR pictures AYOFOTO.COM HDR Photo Challenge

    0

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