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

    Very nice photos.

  2. 352

    i love hdr photos. you can say even that i’m a hdr fanatic :P

    but from all this photos, 2 (two) of them are hdr :| (the other are still great beautiful photos, don’t get me wrong; but they are NOT hdr!)
    i really hate all this “artist” that brag with their “hdr” photos, but don’t know the first thing about what a hdr photo is supposed to be.

  3. 703

    Nice Collection!

  4. 1054

    so good

  5. 1405

    very good!
    很好看, 这些图都很不错!

  6. 1756

    This particular blog siteis quite interesting, keep creating awesome info.

  7. 2107

    hi sir nice pics

  8. 2458

    Nice collection Vitaly. Unfortunately I do think that sometimes the artist goes a bit too far with the effects. Don’t get me wrong, HDR is fantastic, I absolutely love it and have been playing around with it myself, but the 3rd image from the bottom is a classic example, the halo around the tree is such a give-away that it’s HDR with detail up to the max.

    “Use but don’t abuse” is my moto with HDR.

  9. 2809

    The world before third world war; this is suitable for the Doom scenarios. It hurts my eyes; I think Hdr so awful is no good for health. ¿What is the idea?, light everywhere ¿For what?; ¿Where is the more important thing in the shot? doesn’t exist, all have the same importance. Conclusion: bad photography, worst photographers

  10. 3160

    Hm, hm, hm. It starts with first line of the article: “Applied carefully, High Dynamic Range-technique (HDR) can create incredibly beautiful pictures …”
    Not one single image in the collection matches the term ‘carefully’. To my suffering eyes, this is an orgy of oversaturation and one of violent overprocessing as well.
    We have that in audio-material too, called ‘lethal-compression’ there.
    The dilemma begins, whenever the image leaves comprehensible perception. This is the moment it stops to be a photograph and starts to be a work of photography-based tweaking. Just because someone spends hours/days/weeks in a heroic attempt to thrash common limitations out of a medium … the result not necessarlily becomes art. But sure enough, it can result in art. Remember Chuck Close and all the artists, known as ‘photorealists’ back in the 70ies. This was photography-based painting, true HDR, if you may, and it had the same ‘hyperrealistic’ effect to our eyes. Almost all images in this gallery lack from one essential prerequisite: composition. Take the HDR out, and you look at mediocre craftsmanship in many cases. They simply are way too overcharged to still represent the genre of photography. OK, OK, of course one could state now: “Shut up, why should the way, light interacts with silver iodide/chips be the normative amen into the story?” Agreed. Our senses, the most of them operating on a logarithmic basis, in fact handle sensations right in this way: It needs 100W to appear double as loud as 10W and it needs 1000W to double this sensation again.
    The same applies to light. Unfortunately, this does not apply to physical media.
    This is, why neither film nor chips can see, what our eyes see. Of course, HDR can faciliate photographs that come closer to our perception. Yet, there is none in this collection. In my eyes, they exaggerate the ****s out of a technique, while forgetting about the underlying artistic rules. Look at image #2: Logarithmic based senses or not, it is absolutely impossible to see reality in this way. Now, obviously leaving both the fields of physical limitation (silver iodide/chip) and physiological perception (logarithmic handleable scale of sensation) one should be careful with the term photography. Pixelpainting? Photoncompressing? Hypercomposing? Digital eclecticism?
    And, to move past given limitations is no proof that one has entered the fields of art yet.
    In short: as soon as an image starts looking like HDR … take them levers down, at least a bit. Unless you want to be an HDR-artist – and exactly look like one. In this case, simply proceed at your discretion, yet, be prepared to be confronted with the unflattering tally ‘HDR-syndrome’.
    A syndrome, possibly strong enough to overshadow the individual aspects of your work.
    If it does not … you’re an artist!

  11. 3511


    photography is not new for me, its always my dream to be a professional photographer, I always read books about photography even before that I dont have SLR yet. I just got myself one recently though.. hehehe… HDR photography however is new for me, I mean, how is this done? thanks

  12. 3862

    Your article was excellent. If you do please help me .

  13. 4213

    This collection has some good ones and some duds… lots of over processed and exaggerated shots that look very unrealistic. Dead giveaway with the haloing around objects or near contrasty areas. Maybe a follow up post with people who use HDR to create more subtle and refined images as opposed to the Photomatix-y “super HDR” effect.

    Photomatix was the reason I never liked HDR. Not that it is a poor program but people don’t know how to use it. It wasn’t until I found a way to process HDR in a more controlled way that I came to appreciate its power and flexibility.

  14. 4564

    The HDR process isn’t that easy, and requires good starting photographs in order to produce a good final image, in the same way producing electronic music requires good samples to contribute to the final composition.

    Naysayers, try it yourself. I agree a good HDR ‘photograph’ will look like a photograph, not a painting. I think the examples on ‘Erudite Expressions’ website are good examples of how to produce solid ‘natural’ looking HDR images with taste.

  15. 4915

    There are a few really good shots here, but most of these are OVER-PROCESSED. HDR is a tool, just like any other, and you can certainly have your opinion about what you like or don’t like, but most professional photographers will tell you that a good non-HDR photo easily beats most of these HDR examples. HDR when scaled-down, and appropriately ‘scalpeled’ will yield great results that easily make it indistinguishable from a regular shot, but carry an etherial quality that you can’t quite put your finger on.

    Just my 2 cents.

  16. 5266
  17. 5617

    This is a very nice collection of HDR Photography inspiration. I would like also to share my own collection http://designecho.com/inspirations/35-stunning-hdr-photography-examples/


  18. 5968

    To bad some of those images aren’t HDR. First and foremost, HDR is combining multiple exposures to create one photo. So as such, you cannot take multiple exposures of a moving subject like the fireworks, since it is moving and therefore would be impossible to take at minimum 3 shots at the same time at 3 different exposure levels. A single image can be tone mapped to be sure, but that is technically not HDR. Then the fact that a couple of the photo’s are not even claiming to be HDR when you click on them and get to the original photo and it’s description. Like this one .http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynchburgvirginia/407618927/ . Most of the photo’s in this article are “Tone mapped” and not HDR. As I stated HDR is a combination of multiple images at different exposures to capture shadows and light the human eye can’t see, which makes the photo stunningly clean and crisp. It doesn’t make a “painting” like photo or make halo’s around a subject. That is done via tone mapping.
    True HDR looks like this; http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=4920356.
    Tone mapped is this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elementalpaul/2261257446/in/pool-hdr .

  19. 6319

    Phillip Johnston

    July 7, 2013 12:19 am

    Sorry to burst your bubble but many of these images actually are fake. Like, completely fake, not just color-enhanced and tone-mapped. Like the helix nebula over Paris one – you can’t see nebulae from earth without a telescope. That picture is a combination of a telescope image and a totally boring shot of a building. That is fake by all means. The one with a cloud right over the building is also faked by the same means. You guys should really pay attention and now what you are talking about before you go assuring the public that these are real images.

  20. 6670

    Nice Pics ……. Like it ……..

  21. 7021

    People who trash HDR, really have closed minds and NO sense of art. If a photo is beautiful, or inspiring, it doesn’t matter how it came to be.

    I, for one, feel that there is a fine line between amazing sureal beauty in HDR, and an over processed look. I feel that six of the images here really hit that. The others are not to my taste, but only an ignorant, non artist, would say it is not photography.

    HDR has been around since the 1850s! Photographers have been blending exposures together since its infancy, so how can we judge it?

    Also, EVERY…. EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER bends reality in a dramatic way. When you see a grizzly bear from 200 yards, and pop on a long focal length lense to grab that shot… how are you not also manipulating the reality of what we see? Or how about when you slow down the shutter speed to blur motion or brightly expose a completly dark landscape? How is this not “cheating reality and creating something doesn’t exist in real life”.

    The point is that there is no room for “purists” in art. All any photographer needs to do, in justifying their craft is ask: “Is this image beautiful? Is it stunning? Does it stir me, and inspire? Does it create a sense of wonder?” If so, it is art and it is important and valid.

  22. 7372

    Actually only some of them are good, others are pretty mediocre. You can check out some of mine over at https://www.facebook.com/hdrartography
    Definitely not are fantastic on mine too. But I think I do have several good ones which are better than at least half over here.. Anyway, great collection!

  23. 7723

    HDR is a part of the process used in the photos above. “Real” HDR does not turn photos into modern art.

    That said, I enjoy the photos above. Much like I do heavy rock music such as the band Disturbed. I just can’t take too much at any one time or I start getting queasy.


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