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 Link

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 Link

Footnotes Link

  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 UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Nice pics!

  2. 2


  3. 3

    Wouwww, these are really gorgeous!!!

  4. 4

    I can safely say that, these aren’t the one the best HDR pics. I am great fan of HDR pics and have seen really great of them. I am not blaming though, as you have already explained that in your disclosure. Some are really great, though. Keep it up!!

  5. 5

    this hdr trend is really annoying. it’s just pimping boring photos that lack of content. i wouldn’t even call it photography at all, sorry.

  6. 6


    Sorry but some of those pictures are really good. They have good motives, moods and perspective and would still be good shots if they where B&W. And to “not even call it photography at all” is kind of stupid. A photo doesnt always have to tell a heartbreaking to be good. At least show us something that you would call good photography.

  7. 7

    I am starting to really get into HDR photography and this post has given me such inspiration – what an absolutely fantastic post – thanks!

  8. 8

    The pics are lovely… but what is the equipment you need to shoot them? Is this an expensive technique?

  9. 9

    Wow, what a collection …

  10. 10

    Would be good to see a ‘(Really) Stunning Desktop HDR Wallpapers’. These are stunning, but I want ’em bigger!

  11. 11

    Gorgeous pictures, thank you!

  12. 12

    Amazing collection!
    kuldeep, please post the links to better images, I’d love to see them!

  13. 13

    some good pics here, but i’m afraid HDR is one of the techniques that you can screw up most… and i promise to those of you who are stunned by all of the pictures up here cause it’s the first time you see hdr-pictures: it won’t be long, and you’ll start to hate these unnaturally overstructured skies on the photos of e.g. the golden gate bridge or that greek temple. these are some better examples of how NOT to apply the HDR-technique. golden rule as always: keep it natural…
    and btw: there are some “fake” HDRs on this list. a real HDR is composed of several pictures with different exposure time, and i guess it might be difficult to get these birds to stay in the same position for several shots… not that anyone cared, just wanted to be the smart-ass…:P

  14. 14

    Fantastical and fun. I would love to publish a poetry book with such pics…..

  15. 15

    These are so beautiful. I’m in love.

  16. 16

    Very very nice, it looks so amazing

  17. 17

    I like the disclaimer you posted for all the elitist ass hats.

  18. 18

    Another HDR post. As im a image passionate this techniques are just a wonderfull way to improve may pictures.

  19. 19

    you claim the intention (of hdr-technique) is to “accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes”, then you post 30-odd tone-mapped-to-hell examples of hdr photography at its absolute worst. nice one!

  20. 20

    This stuff is so incredible. True HDR or not, it’s a great looking effect and these images really “pop”. I’m glad this effect is not something easily obtainable otherwise you’d start seeing it all over.

  21. 21

    damn it, its really fantastic!

  22. 22
  23. 23

    I second shasta, chus and others who comment on the “unreality” of many of these photos. Some of them look like they belong on the cover of cheesy fantasy novels. And I will second Chus’ link to cambridgeincolour.com. THAT is some beautiful HDR work!

  24. 24

    terrible! Nuff said, these all are tone mapped way beyond….

    If this was digg I would give you -1

  25. 25

    No doubt. Hallucination – maybe. Nice photos – definitely not.

  26. 26

    Beautiful pictures, very crisp and clean!

  27. 27

    Hard to believe that everyone of these pictures was originally a photograph.

  28. 28

    Awesome eye candy!

  29. 29

    Wow, these are beautiful – although some of them look unreal and almost like computer generated like the SF bridge.
    Nice collection.

  30. 30

    thanks a lot!

  31. 31

    So kitsch :p

  32. 32

    You have a LOT to learn about HDR. These all look like Photomatix jobs with the dial set to “11” (Spinal Tap reference). If it no longer LOOKS like a photograph, then the HDR has not been done correctly. If it still looks like a photograph, but somehow better (like Ansel Adams zone system shots did for B&W), then you’ve got a well done HDR job.

    If you want to see HDR done right, check out this guy’s work: BackingWinds. He’s a professional photoshopper and also a budding pro photographer and I think you’ll see some stuff that doesn’t look like such an obvious CGI.

  33. 33


    Reminds me of a new photoshop user – uses every gimmicky filter he can get his hands on to create …err *cough* …’art’

    The original use of HDR photography was to accurately light computer generated 3d scenes…why don’t we let it stay that way.

    This a fad that will date, die and decay just as quickly as snow washed jeans!

  34. 34

    Very nice collection, however, i hate black clouds in the sky, they just aren’t natural

  35. 35

    I totally agree with that! I think it is becoming the “Bob Ross technique” of the photography.

  36. 36

    Being Singaporean, its nice to see 3 photos of Singapore in the collection. :)

  37. 37

    For the last link, use this for the photo page: http://flickr.com/photos/ariffin/2083692789/in/set-72157594411342600/

  38. 38

    Whatever happened to just taking a really well composed and properly exposed photograph? For example, Ansel Adams achieved dramatic effects without Photomatix.

    Reminds me of when the Matrix came out, and everywhere you looked, even Subaru commercials, they all used that same freeze/surround effect. This is just another one of those gimicks.

  39. 39

    And another Photoshop filter becomes trendy. The HDR “look” to images (#2, #3, #5, #8) will come and go, and the faster this look goes, that better.

    There is good reason to use HDR photography techniques: to capture a wider dynamic range. See #1, #13, #18, and maybe #35 – wide dynamic range, no Photoshop filter look (oh, sorry – I suppose you think these images have “style”? You don’t get style out of a Photoshop filter).

    @dharma: no equipment except for a $69 Photoshop filter. Just take a bracketed exposure (+/- 2 stops, generally) and let Photoshop do the work. You will need a camera that you can control manually, though.

  40. 40

    Wow! New background :).

  41. 41

    I’m shootin’ RAW from now on!

  42. 42

    Wow! and 2 pics are my country :)

  43. 43

    Pictures are quite nice but they also suffer from to much contrast. The eye is naturally attracted by contrast and this is the main reason for the appreciation these images get.
    They are from a pictorial point of view different but
    after a few pictures I seem to look at something that is all the same.

  44. 44

    Only maybe 4 or 5 that are actually done tastefully, the rest are pretty standard garish HDR… but some are pretty stunning, decent collection all in all.

  45. 45

    $69 dollar filter? Some of the best HDR software is free. Just started using it this weekend. Equipment needed/recommended would be a camera that allows either Auto Bracketing or manual control and a nice, stable tripod. Another good item to have is a cable release, but not needed. And the most important thing, is an eye for photography. Doesn’t matter how much PP you do, with out the initial vision, you still get garbage.

  46. 46
  47. 47

    Another potentially useful Photoshop technique embarrassingly abused.

  48. 48

    Applied carefully, High Dynamic Range-technique (HDR) can create incredibly beautiful pictures

    Unfortunately a lot of these are over the top with the HDR, which I personally dont like. but too each his own… if it’s the photographers/artists intent to create a surreal, and sometimes ugly (hahah personal opinion sneeking in again) image… then more power to you.

  49. 49

    Someone of these look incredible — I especially like the upward shot of the skyscrapers. However, it should be noted that these all more or less have the same look and feel: overprocessed and unreal. You can, however, create much more realistic results using Photoshop CS2 or CS3’s built in HDR function. I have a Photoshop HDR Tutorial on my blog; Photoshop can lead to some stunning results.

  50. 50

    Very cool pictures.


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