Tuesday, June 15, 2010

HDR and Microscopy

I've been having a blast over the last year or so getting back into photography after about a 3 decade lapse (and major advances in technology). The thing that really got me excited was something called high dynamic range or HDR photography.

One of the basic rules in photography has been that you should have the shot's light source (in particular the sun) at your back, otherwise your exposure might be funky. HDR involves taking multiple images at different exposures of the same subject so that you can get the very bright and very dark areas at appropriate exposures. The human eye and brain have an amazing ability to handle these tremendous differences in a particular view, and to my eye HDR gives the photographer some tools to get closer to what we perceive (and to also take some artistic license with the images).  I really enjoy the ability to shoot directly into the sun.

Even more interesting is the potential to apply this technique to scientific imaging. We've had some discussions about improving surgery images, and I spent some time brainstorming with our microscopy folks, one of whom forwarded along this paper which covers very nicely how HDR can enhance bright-field microscopy. Interestingly enough, they also use the same HDR software I've been working with (Photomatix Pro). It's really exciting to see someone tackling this.

Images C and D are HDR.
Image: Joerg Piper, Bad Bertrich, Germany, 2010

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