35 Fantastic HDR Pictures


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


  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.

  1. 1

    i like this picture >>>>>>>>

    wenderfulllll !!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. 152

    most of them are really bad pictures, and HDR can’t save them…
    HDR can help sometimes, but most of these tonemappings are too bad to mention

  3. 303

    If you can see easily that a photo is HDR, then the photographer has done a damn lousy job. The object should be to increase the toneality range just enough to open up the shadows ever so slightly and to minimize any blowing out of sunlit clouds. Even if you manage to accomplish this, the problem still is how do you print a picture that obviously has greater dynamic range than the paper can handle. The bad choice becomes that you compress the linear relationship of whites, greys and black, and you lose the natural look of the original scene. This is why HDR looks gimmicky and crappy.

  4. 454

    Would it have killed you to have provided attribution?

    As for the comments about “real” HDR – what part of High Dynamic Range don’t you understand? It’s about compressing the dynamic range we perceive into the dynamic range of the display element – CRT, paper, projected slide. It’s not about using a particular piece of software. Dodging, burning, graded papers, toning, hot developers, compensating developers, contrast masks… all old techniques that legitimately provide HDR results.

  5. 605

    ridiculous ,

    the colors are all muddled, shadows are inconsistent, focus is not right on anything that moves. If this is the best HDR has, I think its worse than normal photography’s worst .

    The restriction of contrast on photography is one of the things that makes the pictures dramatic and interesting. This is just too retarded.

  6. 756

    this HDR stuff is really a matter of taste. personally, i just don’t like it at all. the photos are too contrasty and fake looking to me. what happened to composition and the use of light in making a good photo? if you review these 35 photos, there are perhaps 5 that show decent composition. take away the “special effects” and what do you really have left? this is about using computer software above all else.

    just my 2 cents, so flame away

  7. 907

    Some of the photos were really easy to tell that they were HDRD! And thats not cool! They have to be HDRD enough but not the point that you can easily tell and like wtf?

  8. 1058

    Er…nice shots but can someone explain how you can include flying birds in HDR?

  9. 1209

    Just far too cartoonish. Frankly these would probably would have been good photos without any HDR or Photoshopping.

  10. 1360

    flying birds in HDR:
    professional style cameras have something called “auto-bracketing”
    this means that the photographer can take ONE snapshot, and the camera takes a photo with normal exposure, and then two other photo’s at different exposures (over and under,exposed)

  11. 1511

    Unfortunately half of these aren’t even real HDR.

    You can’t have a moving subject in a true HDR picture. So any of the pictures with birds in them are all just simulated.

  12. 1662

    These are nice examples of how computers have muffled creativity somewhat… I’d suggest 3 maybe 4 are fine images.

    Call me lazy but I enjoy using GND filters then PS, less work and more time to click shutters and not mice.

    An example using a 2 stop GND and some PS selecting and layering for the highlights and shadows. My photo on Flickr

  13. 1813

    I agree. Those are some nice ones of Singapore.

  14. 1964

    There are a couple of nice looking pictures but, most of them SUCK! It’s just further proof that HDR is an abomination.

  15. 2115
  16. 2266
  17. 2417

    Nikita Kondraskov

    August 18, 2008 7:00 pm

    The photo with the hawk is wonderful. The contrast of the for within this picture is surely to be admired.

  18. 2568

    Years ago 35mm film was scoffed at, then people said digital will never catch on! then PS will never catch on, it is not proper photography!! The camera is a tool of expression, as long as there was a photograph at the beginning, and the person who took it is happy, who cares. People there has never been an image that every one has liked, so please people chill

  19. 2719

    I agree with Dave, if you do HDR do it on a manual SLR camera. These pictures can be absolutely stunning but if all the work is done on Photoshop, then there is little to no artistic work in it. Take the time to take three or four shots of the same scene and compose it yourself. You’ll get so much more out of it.

  20. 2870

    Oh, my. Listen to all the “experts”. Some are way over-processed, sure. Some are nice. But as me dear ol’ mum used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, STFU and get over yourself.”

    Expert = someone who thinks they know it ll, and makes sure everyone else knows it

    So go back to shooting your off-kilter half-faces and calling it art. No…one…cares.

  21. 3021


    What do you think about this : The Beauty and the lake

    This is a HDR made with one raw.

  22. 3172

    Unfortunately half of these aren’t even real HDR.
    You can’t have a moving subject in a true HDR picture. So any of the pictures with birds in them are all just simulated.

    Well HDR is altering the three photos to create the affect you see , by simply deleting two of the ‘moving subjects’ and keeping only one you can create a static subject. It may be a slight cheat but hey its digital at it best !!!

  23. 3323

    Of all web sites, this should be enabled for Piclens. You need it!

  24. 3474

    HDR is fine when used properly

  25. 3625

    HDR is great.
    HDR is fake.
    These look amazing.
    These look like crap.
    Can I learn this.
    No. Go away.
    HDR isn’t photography.
    HDR is photography.
    Photoshop sucks.
    I love Photoshop.

    There. Done. It’s all been said over and over and over in this thread.


  26. 3776


  27. 3927

    These are good. Sure, in my opinion, most of them are not real “photographs” (whatever that is), but that’s my opinion anyway. However… they are great anyway and have a very stunning effect to the eye (a good one, I must say).

    I like them. Keep it up! People should stop thinking that anything that comes through a camera needs to be lifelike. This is just different, and beautiful.

  28. 4078

    Nice collection, great inspirational shots!

  29. 4229

    woooow! amazing!! love it!

  30. 4380

    The most important thing is what the photographer wants you to see, feel and react when you look at a HDR scenery. Just now I realized thru Flickr Stats that one of my pictures was blogged here (From Above, the 12º pic), and I’m pretty impressed by the huge amount of visits I’m receiving everyday, thanks to this awesome site.
    I think that criticisms are a part of the job, since a lot of people refuse to digest the idea that even a picture post processed extensively stills a photography, or at least, art at a wider view. But I’m not a huge fan of HDR applied automatically.
    It has to have a meaning, a message, like most of the pictures stated here!
    Thanks for all your visits, folks!

  31. 4531

    realy nice
    i’ll make like that, one day

  32. 4682

    Really like these.. thanks

  33. 4833

    oh,my god.i am chinese and i have never seen such beautiful pictures.they are true~i am so lucky.thanks.my friend who told this web to me

  34. 4984

    Belíssimas imagens!!!

  35. 5135

    These pictures are very very nice i have never seen these pictures.Extreamely Beautiful.
    Thanks for all this

  36. 5286

    wonderfull pictures..

  37. 5437


    Those pixs would make great posters with a caption.

  38. 5588

    Very fantastic HDR-Photo, it’s great.

    best regards,

  39. 5739

    Having looked at all of the images and laboring thru all of the comments I can only come to one conclusion – one could apply the same parameter to HDR – F.D.R. & BLT “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”.

  40. 5890

    Very nice pics mind blowing ^_^

  41. 6041

    agree with jai.

    abuse of photoshop filters, . we dont live in video games, look out the window. seems like hdr is a good tool that is quickly going to get a very bad name.

  42. 6192

    Something is desparately wrong – how does one put it in words – some anologies are best.
    Wedding cake photography,
    Coffee with ten times too much sugar and cream,
    Overeating, overindulgence,
    So much too much it’s sickening.

  43. 6343

    goto Pools. The 1st 13 are ALL HDR photographs, taken with a Canon 5D on a tripod, bracketed for 9 stops of exposure, then 5-8 of the photographs used that would add detail to the images. I get paid to shoot in expensive homes in Cape Town, I have to make the places look like a million dollars and most of these places cost well into many million dollars. There is no tone mapping and these look pretty realistic.

  44. 6494

    Somebody please tell me how this is abuse of photoshop, when photoshop has an automatic hdr program to do all the work for you…HDR began back in the 1930’s long before photoshop was created, and the whole point of photoshop is to open up the doors of our imaginations…Quantum Physics will tell us that reality goes beyond what we humans can concieve, and that we can only see what we believe…HDR shows us that there is more going on in the world then we believe, it opens up doors there were closed before…Plus they are just amazing to look at…but like always, to each there own…

  45. 6645

    Wow! great colors in every pictures! HDR is the best technique. I love it.

  46. 6796

    So obviously some people like this stuff, some don’t. But why are all the people who don’t like it so angry at it? The person who made these pictures is proud of them, and some people appreciate them. Why do arrogant pricks think that if something is easy enough for anyone to do that nobody should do it? I like some of these pics alot, especially the first two. They are visually stimulating. As a matter of fact, I am gonna go out and get photoshop and apply this damn filter to every picture on my hard drive. Maybe I’ll post my top 35.

  47. 6947

    I prefer to use HDR very subtly such that the viewer simply sees an image and does not think about the technical aspects– dynamic range, tonality, saturation, etc. and just enjoys the image per se.

  48. 7098

    Ajoy, I agree. Good HRD is subtle, and most viewers should not be able to guess that they are. The idea is to make a picture that mimics the way we see in real life, but our eyes build an image in our minds, while constantly adjusting to brightness as we scan the scene. These mostly look fake and un-natural. I have done a few HDR pics by manually masking parts of the image. Automatic filters always leave a halo around parts of the image with contrast, either PhotoShop’s Highlight and Shadow adjustment, or some program that combines multiple shots. They don’t understand the image. Only you know that clouds should be brighter than trees.

  49. 7249


    i’d like to know how can a people make a HDR picture with a bird flying….
    Anyone can help me?

    Thanks a lot!

  50. 7400

    hdr pushes the photo to new limits but these are far beyond the most hdr photos.
    re birds in the photo. if just one photo has the moving object this may work..anycase it’s given me an idea


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