Everything You Need to Know About HDR

Perhaps one of the neatest photography effects one can create is HDR. Without HDR, we would not be able to see images as stunning as we see them in the photo, making a scene more striking, enough to grab the viewer’s attention.

HDR stands for high dynamic range and it serves primarily to provide a wider range of light onto a photograph. You see, the human eye can see up to 11 stops of light but a camera can only manage to record 3. To overcome this shortcoming, HDR was developed not only to replicate what the image looked like as the human eye saw it, but also to create more visually striking photographs.



First things first, you need to have everything ready: your equipment (camera, lens, tripod) and software. Here are some tips when it comes to choosing your camera and what tools you would need for HDR to work well.

Camera – 90% of cameras sold today can take great HDR photos. To make an HDR image, get a camera that fits any of the following: be able to take multiple photos in something called “Auto-bracketing mode” or “Auto-exposure mode” or “Exposure Bracketing”, be able to let you to shoot in Aperture and adjust the exposure to +1 or +2 for example, and can shoot in RAW

Tripod – You might want to use a tripod if you are planning on low-light photos like sunsets and these sorts of things or to ensure you get more steady shots, which is important if you are going to shoot in HDR.

Software – Your box of 64 Crayons will be your software. I prepared a list of software that I use myself to put HDR photos together.



Now that you have everything ready (also make sure your camera battery is fully charged) go someplace with a nice view and at a good time (when the sky is blue or at sunset) and take photos. You will have to take multiple photos of the same scene at different exposures, so that later you could stitch these photos into one HDR image. This is when having a tripod will come in handy.

The idea is to take under exposed, over exposed photos and photos with normal exposure. Later you will merge these photos with post-processing software and will compensate the high dynamic range which your camera could not see, but your eye could.

Here are a few other great tips that will help you out when shooting:

Bracketing – Even though you can make a good HDR photo from a single RAW, some photographers like Martin Pemberton Photography prefer to use Autobracketing. Autobracketing allows your camera to take multiple photos (say 3) in rapid sequence. Each one of those photos will be at a different shutter speed. If you are poking around your camera now, just like for the letters “BKT” for Bracket, and then maybe you can see how you can set it for three exposures at -2, 0, and +2. But more on this soon.

Aperture priority – Put your camera into Aperture Priority mode and turn on Autobracketing. Set up your autobracketing to take three photos at -2, 0, and +2. Some cameras can do more, some less. Do what you can with your camera.

Also, make sure you are shooting in RAW instead of JPG. This will give you more flexibility and range in your shooting.

If you happen to be shooting into the sun, you may want to take a “-3 shot as well because it will be so bright.

And if you are on a tripod shooting at low light conditions, set your ISO as low as it will go. This will help you get rid of noise.

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