Book Review: Rick Sammon’s HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers

By Diane Berkenfeld

Rick Sammon HDR book cover for book reviewRick Sammon’s HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers (ISBN 978-0-470-61275-0) published by Wiley ( is the 36th book penned by the author.

The author has a great statement about halfway through the book: “While you are playing, here is something to think about: When you remove the true color from a scene, you remove some of the reality. The same is true when you increase or decrease the sharpness of an image; you alter a viewer’s sense of reality. When you remove or alter the reality in a scene, your images become more artistic.”

HDR for those who aren’t familiar with the technique, stands for High Dynamic Range. Basically, the concept of HDR Photography is this: you’re photographing a scene and bracketing the exposure, over- and under-exposing the scene, and merging the images into one photograph that shows an extreme dynamic range, with detail in the highlights and shadows and every tone in between. HDR photographs are extremely artistic, often looking more like a painting than a photograph.

In addition to discussing “real” HDR photography techniques, Sammon also includes direction for creating HDR-like images from a single exposure.

I like the fact that the book is filled with a myriad of bite-sized tips and techniques—most are only a few paragraphs to a page in length. A book written in this casual style is much more easily comprehendible than an encyclopedic tome that feels more like a college reference text that a book of tips. Sammon even mentions early on that the book can be read straight through or piecemeal.

HDR Photography Secrets is packed with images—examples and explanations of the techniques used to create them. Sammon usually includes a normal (non-HDR) image along with the HDR version. He also includes screengrabs showing the different exposures he made at the time of multiple-expsoure shoots. And when it comes to explaining the exact directions for using specific software titles, Sammon includes screengrabs of the dialog boxes, etc. which is a great help, especially for those who may not be familiar with these programs.

In the sections on HDR software, Sammon goes into great depth discussing the differences between the programs, what they are all capable of, and what his exact workflow is for using each of them.

The book discusses the pros and cons of manual vs. automatic exposure, how many f/stops to over/under expose, whether to shoot in Raw vs. Jpg, and which software program is best to use. HDR panoramic photography is also discussed, with Sammon showing the reader how to create these images by shooting multiple images and stitching them together.

He also spends a chapter on B&W. One of the great things about that section is that the images that are used as examples are ones that the reader sees earlier in the book, so you can see the transformation from a normal view of a scene, to an HDR photograph, to a B&W conversion of that image.

At the end of the book, Sammon includes cool websites that readers can visit for more information on HDR photography, as well as the websites of the software programs he describes in the book.

A great section of the book is one of the last chapters where the author shows images and asks the reader to figure out what technique was used. Are the images real HDR or HDR-like, and what exactly did he do to alter the photos shown. Readers are directed to a website to see if they were right.

Rick Sammon’s HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers is definitely a book that has a place on my reference shelf. The book is informative, easy to read and well written.

For more information about Rick Sammon, go to his website at


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  1. rick sammon says:

    Thank you!

  2. Administrator says:

    It really is a great book!


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