High dynamic range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a set of methods used in imaging and photography to allow a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging methods or photographic methods. HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.
In simpler terms, HDR is a range of methods to provide higher dynamic range from the imaging process. Non-HDR cameras take pictures at one exposure level with a limited contrast range. This results in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of a picture, depending on whether the camera had a low or high exposure setting. HDR compensates for this loss of detail by taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitching them together to produce a picture that is representative in both dark and bright areas.
HDR is also commonly used to refer to display of images derived from HDR imaging in a way that exaggerates contrast for artistic effect. The two main sources of HDR images are computer renderings and merging of multiple low-dynamic-range (LDR) or standard-dynamic-range (SDR) photographs. Tone mapping methods, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect.