How to do HDR photography

How to do HDR photography

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is a form of image processing that utilizes images captured at different exposures to produce one, amazing photo. The dynamic range as a term infers to the ratio of darkness to light. The proposal here is to try as much as possible to compact, light and have it appear on the final processed photo the same way the naked eyes sees it. According to Photography TutPlus, a great quality digital camera can capture a limited dynamic range ratio of 1,000 to 1 unlike the human eye, which can spot a scene with a dynamic range of 10,000 to 1. This means the human eye is much more acute at capturing a broader perspective of brightness compared to the camera. Once the images are captured, a computer editing software is then used to pick the most desirable portions of the respective photos to create the final, merged photo.

When shooting under bright sunlight, the light metering in the ordinary cameras usually creates deficient adjustments such as silhouette background. The effect can obscure the image or make it difficult to see. With HDR photography, the foreground and backdrop are both exposed to produce clearer shoots. Since no camera can shoot 32-bit image, processed images with an incredible amount of light tones and brightness can be created using HDR. Professional photographers use HDR photography to capture portraits under the sun, large landscape photos, cityscapes and low lighting scenes. The processing technique, however, is not ideal for capturing high contrast scenes and moving objects or subjects. Most advanced, professional cameras in use today come with various HDR capabilities and support features such as Auto Exposed Bracketing (AEB), which helps create bracket multiple exposures and Aperture Value Mode (AV) that determines the aperture of the exposure.

How to do HDR Photography
An HDR photo has a distinctive look to it

Creating HDR photos

To create HDR photo, start by shooting five to three photos at varying lighting spectrums. This can be done with the assistance of the camera bracketing feature. You can set the Exposure Value (EV) increments to capture very dark image, correctly exposed image and overexposed image. Manual adjustments can also work in case the camera you are using doesn’t feature a multiple exposure setting. According to Picture Correct, the preferred EV standard setting for three photos is (-2) EV for the first photo; (0) EV for the second photo and (+2) for the third photo. You can also try out other settings to find the best EV reading for your shoots. To control the shutter speed and ensure consistency between the shootings, set your camera setting to Aperture priority. On the other hand, the noise that may appear in the final HDR photo can be deducted by setting the ISO to the lowest setting.

The tripod is highly recommended tool to ensure stability. Images destined for HDR should be captured in RAW format to provide for more flexibility and range. If you want to shoot landscapes, get a good 24mm lens or wider. Lenses that fall outside the 24mm bracket often produce wide angled images in spite of having fewer distortions. Once the shoots have been made, transfer the photos into your computer’s Hard Drive and begin HDR processing using appropriate software. The most widely used software’s for this purpose include ADOBE Photoshop, Photomatix PRO and ADOBE Lightroom. The best format for processing HDR photos is TIFF or JPG, since they promise less noise and manageable file size. If you choose to work with Photomatix PRO, simply bring in your shots and align them correctly with the frames. The command “Generate HDR Image” will open the image window.

How to do HDR photography Overdone
An overcooked HDR image. Sometimes it works when you want to achieve a specific effect.

The other important photo editing functions in Photomatix PRO are “Reduce Noise” and “Reduce Chromatic Aberrations”. Depending on the performance of your computer, the software takes between 1 to 5 minutes to complete the processing. If you decide to use Photoshop, bring all the images into your screen and use the magnetic lasso tool to move the sections of the photos with the best exposure appropriately into the targeted areas. When you are done with the merging, you can transfer the photo to Lightroom to add finishing touches just to ensure every pixel in the photo is elucidated. The other optional HDR software’s to consider when performing the finishing touches include Topaz Adjust and Noiseware Professional for Windows or Mac. The former comes with a host of features that help bring out sharpness while the latter reduces the noise levels.


The HDR photography makes is easy for photographers to create shoots with a wider and deeper maze of colors; something closer to what the real eye sees. If you are shooting a landscape or cityscape, HDR will help you create an astonishing photo with the best dynamic range or light range. Due to its amazing capabilities, most of the photos in the galleries and stock photography market are created using HDR. A complete High Dynamic Range photography tool set includes the lens, tripod, photo editing software and camera with Auto Exposure Mode or Auto Bracketing Mode features.

Guest Post By

Summit Shah is a travel photographer with an amazing portfolio of captivating shoots to his name. He is greatly inspired by famous nature photographers and random internet snapshots depicting nature at its best. Outside his profession, Summit Shah spends most of his time with family. He also enjoys traveling, outdoors sports and blogging about photography and technology.


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