history of hdr

1852 - Multi Negative Compositing (combination printing) - Hippolyte Bayard

Hippolyte publicized the Multi Negative method to create and image. He accomplished this by photographing a scene in 2 parts and then merging the results during the Printing Process.

1858 - "River Scene" - Camille Silvy

Camille implemented and extended the first method of using Multiple Negatives to create an image. He accomplished this by photographing a scene in 2 parts and then merging the results during the Printing Process. He extended this process by showing how a photographer could take the seperate exposures at different times and from different positions. Although this is not technically HDR rather more Compositing, it was the first time anyone implemented this type of development method. It would take more than 100 years before Paul Debevec extended this method and produced the first photo based HDR images.

1971 – Retinex – Edwin Land

This was one of the first most impacting papers on virtual every tone mapping operator that followed. Although this paper didn’t have an exact implementation several papers and methods were later developed using these concepts. 

The word "retinex" is formed from "retina" and "cortex", suggesting that both the eye and the brain are involved in the processing.” – From Wikipedia

1988 – The radiance lighting simulation and rendering system foundation research begins – Greg Ward

1994 – The radiance lighting simulation and rendering system paper is published – Greg Ward

The first 3D rendering system to use true radiance values (such as the sun example value 10,000,000), Radiance is born. As a result of this new application design a new file format was needed to support this extended data. After a lot of work Greg Ward created an incredible new method of file compression for floating point data. *.hdr is born. The HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE FILE FORMAT which is later dubbed the "HDR" format by Paul

1996 - Modeling and Rendering Architecture from Photographs – Paul Debevec

Although this doesn’t directly relate to HDR it was an important project for Paul that led to his next several pieces of work, which are all related.

1997 – Recovering High Dynamic Radiance Maps from Photographs – Paul Debevec

This is where Photography first made it’s appearance into the HDR world, Paul developed a method of Merging individually developed pictures at different exposures. This was film.

1997 - A Visibility Matching Tone Reproduction Operator for High Dynamic Range Scenes – Greg Ward, Holly Rushmeier and Christine Piatko

Greg develops one of the first modern day Tone Mapping operators that uses the human visual system as a frame for this.

1998 - Rendering with Natural Light – Paul Debevec

Using his new method of capturing environment lighting, Paul extends this method by using Mirrored Balls and captures 360x360 degrees. This allows for him to now create High Dynamic Range Image Based Lighting (3D rendering system using images as the evirnoment lighting). This method was later used to develop the groundbreaking Matrix effects. 

1998- LogLuv encoding for full-gamut, high-dynamic range image – Greg Ward

Greg extends his work on High Dynamic Range image file formats by creating the LogLuv Tiff file format.

2000 - Photosphere Application - Greg Ward

Photosphere is Greg Ward HDR application, which was natively developed for Mac users. It allows users to browse, generate and tone map HDR images. In addition it also has probably the most powerful Panoramic stitching application.

2001 - Real-time High Dynamic Range Texture Mapping – Paul Debevec

"Technique for representing and displaying high dynamic-range texture maps (HDRTMs) using current graphics hardware. Dynamic range in real-world environments often far exceeds the range representable in 8-bit per-channel texture maps. The increased realism afforded by a high-dynamic range representation provides improved fidelity and expressiveness for interactive visualization of image-based models. Our technique allows for real-time rendering of scenes with arbitrary dynamic range, limited only by available texture memory."

2002 - Photographic Tone Reproduction for Digital Images – Erik Reinhard

Erik develops a new method of Tone Mapping Images using a photographic framework.

2002- A Wide Field, High Dynamic Range, Stereographic Viewer – Greg Ward

Greg presented “a high dynamic range viewer based on the 120- degree field-of-view LEEP stereo optics used in the original NASA virtual reality systems. By combining these optics with an intense backlighting system (20 Kcd/m2) and layered transparencies, we are able to reproduce the absolute luminance levels and full dynamic range of almost any visual environment.”

2002 – Gradient Domain High Dynamic Range Compression – Raanan Fattal

Raanan Fattal develops probably the world's most popular Tone Mapping Operator that is used This has become what many ppl refer to the “HDR Look”. 

2004 - Direct HDR Capture of the Sun and Sky – Paul Debevec

Paul furthers his work on capturing environment lighting by going for the brightest player in the neighbourhood the SUN.

2004- Subband Encoding of High Dynamic Range Imagery – Greg Ward

As always Greg once again tops himself by proposing an incredible method of embedding HDR data into the JPEG header so that the file is backwards-compatible with any image editor the supports JPEGS.

2004 - High Dynamic Range Display Systems - Greg Ward with Sunnybrook Technologies

Sunnybrook Technologies develops and presents the first HDR display system.

2005 - JPEG-HDR: A Backwards-Compatible, High Dynamic Range Extension to JPEG – Greg Ward

The concept turns into reality with a new addition to the JPEG file format.

2005 - 'Dynamic Range Reduction Inspired by Photoreceptor Physiology – Erik Reinhard

Erik develops a new Tone Mapping operator the uses the Photoreceptor of the human visual system as a the framework of it’s design. 

2005 - High Dynamic Range Imaging: Acquisition, Display, and Image-Based Lighting Book.

High Dynamic Range Imaging: Acquisition, Display, and Image-Based Lighting (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Graphics) by Erik Reinhard, Greg Ward, Sumanta Pattanaik, and Paul Debevec 

- MPEG-HDR - BrightSide Technologies Rafal 

BrightSide Unveils MPEG-HDR Codec at SIGGRAPH 2006 This becomes the very first video file format for HDR imaging. Laying the groung work for developing hardware to support this new format.

Dec 2010 Fhotoroom Releases first version of HDR - SCI Supporting Computers Inc

Supporting Computers Inc makes their first version of Fhotoroom HDR available to the public. 


*.hdr - greg wards original file format
*.jpg - greg wards jpg
*.tif logluv and raw - tiff implementation of hdr
*.exr - Industrial Light and Magic's file format
*.pfm - raw floating point file format.
*.psd - photoshop file format
*.atx, *.atri - Fhotoroom's file format.


HDR is used by;

-3D designers
-Movie Special Effect


So to sum up for anyone who is still not sure, HDR is a concept not a process or procedure as you can see that ppl have developed many different methods and procedures to acquire or generate high dynamic range images. An accurate HDR image acquires ALL the radiance and irradiance of a scene. The bottom end of HDR is any data that is more than any standard optical device can display, which could mean just one RAW file. Most ppl prefer the term MDR (Medium Dynamic Range), which is completely acceptable since it doesn't represent the entire range of the environment.