I was lucky to spend some time in a beautiful part of North Wales and take some high-dynamic range (HDR) photographs shown on this web page. What you can see on your monitor is just a small portion of the luminance range of the original scenes. To explore the full range of light preserved in these pictures, move the slider below each photograph.
How is it different from thousands of photographs on Flickr and everywhere else? The contrast in these photographs is undistorted by any artificial (photographic) process, known as tone-mapping. We can expect that electronic displays in the future will be much brighter and able to show the full dynamic range of light captured in these photographs with almost no need for tone-mapping. What difference it is going to make? Almost as much difference as between looking at the printed photograph of a nice mountain scenery and seeing that scenery in real-world (perhaps through the window of your display).
When are we going to experience real-world lighting on displays? There is still a long way to go because imaging industry must make a major shift from an 8-bit display-referred era, which relies on photographic principles developed over 100 years ago. The current image and video formats preserve as much information as can be shown on the existing, very limited displays. The future media content should preserve at least as much information as the human eye can see. The research in my group explores the ways to preserve, process and display such real-world scenes in a visually optimal way.
This page is also meant to promote some of our research. You are able to see these photographs in your browser thanks to the HDR-HTML viewer, which can be generated by the free software (GPL) - pfstools. HDR-HTML relies entirely on HTML5 and no Flash is required (will work on iPad).
The panoramas were stitched with Hugin.