In this Badship Introduction to HDRI tutorial we discuss what makes a High Dynamic Range Image differ from a Low Dynamic Range Image. How the extra data in the HDRI is used to 'create' light to render you scenes with far more realism. Traditionally an artist would place many lights in a render scene in a bid to recreate realistic lighting. Alternatively using a HDRI image takes the existing colour and lighting properties of the image, photograph or backdrop is used to 'create' light. This isn't just any image or picture however, it has to have the correct properties. HDRI's are simply an image that contains more than 8 bits of data per pixel per channel. Image formats like JPG and PNG are typically 8-bit and are sometimes referred to as LDR or Low Dynamic Range images, whereas image formats like EXR and HDR store 32-bits of data and are therefore HDRIs. This extra data holds the power to deliver the information required to garner the lighting information from the image which translates to lighting and reflection data in your render scene.
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