An HDR Field Trip in Black & White : Part One


Photo by wilde108

One of my fondest childhood memories is the field trip. Not only did you get out of classes for the day, but nine out of ten times the destination was an interesting one. This month I invite you to take a field trip with me into the world of Black & White HDR photography.

Are you good enough?

There are many levels of expertise when it comes to photographic technique, and I am no exception. I do not consider myself an “expert” in anything, whether it be parenting or photography, as I am continually learning just like you. When I was thinking about what to write about this month, I decided to pick something I know very little about, and perhaps using the basic tools and techniques we can take this project on together.

Please, no pushing or shoving, and let’s board the HDR bus single file and be on our way!


Photo by Edinator

What is HDR, and why should I use it?

HDR or “High Dynamic Range Imaging,” is nothing more than another way to take a “flat” photo and bring it to life. Much like “Tilt Shifting,” which is gaining immense popularity, or Panography which are wide-angle pictures composed of several individual photos manually stitched together, it all comes down to manipulating a photograph to give it a unique look, and if done correctly, can result in images that take your breath away.

HDR in Color


Photo by va-guy

Color HDR photographs are stunning, but when you see a black and white HDR done correctly, it is downright amazing.

HDR in Black & White


Photo by holala830

I invite you to take a walk just down the road to the Flickr HDR black & white pool, in fact, I am making it a mandatory part of our field trip, trust me, you will see HDR in an entirely new light.

What tools will I need?

To create an HDR image, you will need special software, which some of you may already own. Below is a short list of the more popular programs, however, for those of you who like myself may be unemployed or just short on cash, I have included some free or “trial basis” programs as well.

1. Photomatix

2. Dynamic Photo – HDR

3. GIMP (FREE) and yes it does HDR ~ See Here!

4. PTgui

5. Adobe Photoshop CS5

Your Assignment, should you choose to accept


Photo by xTheSpaz

Now that we have learned a bit about what HDR is, have the tools, and have seen some examples of the possibilities, I invite you to join me in creating our first black and white HDR together. This is my first time using this technique, so consider this a field trip into a new realm of photographic technique.

Your assignment, as well as mine, is to begin uploading your HDR black & white photos as you feel comfortable, and continue uploading throughout the month, but do not take your originals down as that will defeat the purpose of progress. Remember, this is NOT a contest, but rather a timeline to learn from each other. I ask that you upload a minimum of one new black and white HDR photo every week regardless of the quality. Should you have questions or comments feel free to post them hear, or if you prefer one on one communication you can contact me via Twitter by direct message, or head over to my blog and drop me a line via my contact form.

For your convenience I have created a Flickr pool exclusively for the readers of Fuel your photography’s “Zero Saturation,” which can be accessed at this link. When uploading images I recommend using your initials or first name so, we can keep track of everyone. Lastly, if you are proficient with HDR, this group is not for you, and I would ask that you respect the group policies. Please Feel free to engage in the comments below, but please do not upload any photographs.

Remember we are ALL in this together, and I truly believe that we can help one another become better photographers in the end, and who knows,  you may just get out of a few classes.

I will see everyone back here next month for part two of this series.

Bryan Zimmerman is a seasoned musician, writer, videographer, and photographer based in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. His style varies between landscape and architecture, however, he has a “thing” for cemetery photography. Bryan’s true style is black and white photography, and he loves to tell a story with each photograph.

Bryan has won several awards for his work and is currently working on his first novel which will contain both his poetry and photography.

You can view his work at and


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