You have probably seen a gorgeous photo with what looks like impossible lighting, even if you don’t know what the effect itself is called. Those HDR photos, or high dynamic range images, use an increased range between the lightest and the darkest areas of an image in order to create an photo with a more intense light effect.
Essentially, HDR photos are composite images, made up of several different pictures with different exposures that have been compiled together to create one stunning image.
That may sound complicated, and it can be. On the computer, creating HDR photos takes special software, but on the iPad, there are a wide variety of apps that can mimic the effect with minimal hassle, making the iPad a fantastic photo editing tool if you want to create easy HDR images.
While there are several HDR apps on the market, I found a recent favorite in an app titled simply “HDR,” which was created by Lucky Clan, a developer that has released a multitude of great photo editing apps.
HDR uses two different pictures when you take a photo, a light image that exposes the nooks and crannies of your image, and a darker image that captures additional detail that might have been lost if only one image was used.
The app then blends these two photos together into one image, with a much greater range of light. This is how you get fantastic effects like a sunset where both the sky and water are lightened. In a normal image, you would essentially have to pick one focal light area for the photo.
You can choose from four different HDR effects that the app creates. There’s an auto functionality if you want something quick and easy, but if you want a bit more customization, try Optimized, Vivid, or Contrast.
If you already have a set of images that you want to improve, you can import existing images, but I found in my testing that this did not work as well as creating a fresh photo. On the plus side, when taking photos or importing them, HDR is ultra snappy.
You might have noticed that Apple has its own HDR effect when taking photos, which can improve the lighting in some situations. Apple’s native HDR functionality is not quite as advanced as the range you will find in the HDR app, which makes it well worth its purchase price. I preferred HDR to some of the other HDR app options in the App Store because it offered a more subtle effect.
I should point out that HDR is a feature that will only work with certain types of images. A bright sunny day is not ideal, but a sunset, shadows, an overcast day, or night time is an ideal time to experiment with HDR effects.
Creating HDR photos on your iPad will never be as detailed as photos taken with a DSLR and edited with professional software, but if you just want a quick but impressive photo, you won’t go wrong with HDR.