Dynamic Range

by Brenda Choate
(San Diego)

Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range

I see it being referred to a lot but I don't quite grasp the meaning.

Hi Brenda,

Thanks for asking the question about what is dynamic range. It is the amount of variation from one end to the other.

In music, dynamic range would be from the highest frequency of sound to the lowest frequency.

In photography DYNAMIC RANGE it is the brightest to the darkest areas that are recorded by your camera.
Usually digital camera sensors are described in terms of their dynamic range or their ability to capture details in the bright highlight areas at the same time as capturing details in the dark shadow areas.

Digital photography does not have the same dynamic range or ability to capture details in the darkest shadows and also still capture details on the brightest highlight areas as photographic film did.

Our human eyes have a tremendous dynamic range. We have the ability to see about 24 "stops" of lightness/darkness range. A "stop" is a factor of 2, so we humans have a tremendous ability to distinguish detail in very light and very dark parts of our view at the same time.

In a digital camera, the software does a decent job in most situations to overcome the camera sensors shortcomings. There are also several techniques to deal with this issue when you do your photo editing. Some are simple. Others are more complex but also give you great results

High Dynamic Range Photography

HDR (high dynamic range)photography is a photographic technique used where several shots are taken of the same exact scene at different exposures.

Highlights from the underexposed photos and shadows from the overexposed photos are combined together to create a new picture. Click here for an article on the use of High Dynamic Range for nature pictures: Nature Pictures-HDR.

Some cameras now have sensors with expanded dynamic range built into the sensor and some cameras will combine exposures for you and with others you'll have to use software to combine the separe images into one. Either way, you have a lot of great options to play with dynamic range and create some beautiful images.

Photography Terms

More Photography Definitions

Happy Shooting

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Photography Definitions.