Google+ Photos caters to pixel peepers and HDR fans

Two new options expand what's possible with online photo editing on Google+. You can check focus with 100 percent zoom and give photos an HDR look.

The HDR effect on Google+ can make a photo look surreal. For a comparison to the original, see below.
The HDR effect on Google+ can make a photo look surreal. For a comparison to the original, see below. (Click to enlarge.) Stephen Shankland/CNET

There's plenty of justified irritation that people pore over a photo's every pixel when from an aesthetic point of view, you'd be better off judging the whole work.

But if you're editing photos, it's definitely useful to zoom to 100 percent when checking things like focus or noise levels, which is why it's notable Google added that ability to its Google+ photo-editing app.

Google's Andre Meyer announced the feature Friday on Google+ -- along with one that's probably more controversial, a new HDR filter called HDR Scape.

HDR stands for high dynamic range, and it refers generally to the combination of multiple brighter and darker exposures of the same scene to better span its full range of tones. In principle, HDR photography can better match how the human eye can see something, or how the brain remembers it, but in practice, it's often used to add grungey, surreal special effects.

The Google+ option creates an HDR look from a single photo. Fortunately for the HDR haters, there are a range of sliders and presets that also offer more natural options.

The software uses Google's Native Client technology for running native apps in the browser. That means you'll have to use Chrome to try the software, because no other browser supports Native Client.

The original photo before being HDR-ized on the Google+ photo editing app, which only works in Chrome.
The original photo before being HDR-ized on the Google+ photo editing app, which only works in Chrome. (Click to enlarge.) Stephen Shankland/CNET
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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