Updates to Instagram’s HDR Photos: Courtesy of Samsung

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Updates to Instagram's HDR Photos: Courtesy of Samsung

Image source: cnet.com
High dynamic range (HDR) images can withstand light and dark, allowing for more accurate color reproduction in scenes with bright elements, such as these San Francisco neon signs. Because many browsers and displays cannot display HDR photographs, this photo is a conventional dynamic range shot.

An HDR image has the potential to be more lifelike and accurate to the human eye. However, technological advancements need to be improved by interoperability.

One small detail revealed during the announcement of Samsung’s Galaxy S24 smartphone had me pumped: the handset would have the capability to upload high dynamic range (HDR) images to Instagram.
The acquisition is limited to a single social media app and one line of smartphones. As a professional photographer, though, I couldn’t be happier about this development since it bodes well for the widespread adoption of high dynamic range (HDR) photography across various platforms and applications.

The collaboration between Samsung and Instagram has the potential to usher in an improved era of digital photography. Photo buffs like myself enjoy that enhancement, and everyone can.
The abbreviation “HDR” refers to the ability of an image to capture a broader range of light and dark tones. That has the potential to enhance the realism and vibrancy of photographs, especially those featuring striking variations in lighting. The sky is brilliant, not faded out. The colors of sunsets burst forth. As you look at the scenes, they seem more lifelike than they were.

While there are certain complexities, HDR has become popular in video. However, it’s rare for photographs. Several limitations in compatibility and capabilities have prevented HDR photographs from being widely used. Hardware that can record high dynamic range (HDR) images, software that can modify those images, and displays that can show off those additional tones are all necessities for this technology to function.
That is why Samsung and Instagram have my full attention.

By working together, we can address some of the issues plaguing high dynamic range (HDR) photography and pave the way for more individuals to reap the benefits of this technology. Supporting HDR photographs is only helpful if they can be displayed correctly, and attempting to display them correctly is futile if the photography gear and software can’t create HDR photos.
HDR photography development

With the addition of HDR picture compatibility to Adobe Lightroom in 2023, a leading editing and cataloging application for photographers and enthusiasts alike, the technology made great strides toward becoming widely used. That made me realize how much scene data my cameras had collected without my knowledge or appreciation for a long time.

Read photographer and Adobe engineer Eric Chan’s blog post about HDR photography to get a feel for the capabilities of the technology. Since Firefox and Safari don’t support HDR photographs, you’ll need to use a Chromium-based browser like Brave or Edge to view them.
“Tones and colors have more room to spread out: brighter highlights, deeper shadows, improved tonal separation, and more vivid colors,” added Chan. “As a result, photos optimized for HDR displays have greater impact and provide an increased sense of depth and realism.”

Developing “gain map” technology specifically for image file formats was another milestone achieved by Adobe. Gain maps enhance a standard image with additional HDR data, enabling non-HDR devices to show the traditional image and HDR-enabled devices to show the other tonal range.
Google and Samsung have both stated that they used to gain maps in the Ultra HDR format of Android 14. However, Samsung refers to it as a Super HDR.

Bright displays are necessary for high-dynamic range (HDR) photography. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops need to be set to very bright settings to display HDR photos correctly. The maximum brightness that Adobe suggests is 1,000 nits. That is now standard on most high-end cell phones, but it is far less frequent on laptops and even less prevalent on external displays.

The peak brightness of the Samsung Galaxy S24, S24 Plus, and S24 Ultra reaches 2,600 nits, increasing from 1,750 nits on the previous generation’s S23. The phones were praised for that by testing organization DXOMark.

At this time, Instagram has not made its intentions public. Meta, the parent business, stated that HDR photography will reach beyond Samsung phones.

“Samsung is the first manufacturer we’ve worked with to make this feature available, so Galaxy S24 users will be the first to be able to capture, post, and view HDR photos in [Instagram’s] Feed as soon as the Galaxy S24 device is available,” Cullen Heaney, a spokeswoman. However, the business is collaborating with other Android partners and Apple to manage HDR picture uploads and viewing.

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HDR imageInstagramSamsung Galaxy S24
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