1st Things 1st - Define HDR
- HDR stands for “high dynamic range.” Some call it “high contrast” or “multiple tonal values”.
- Dynamic range is the difference between the darkest dark and the lightest light you can capture in a photo.
- Once your subject exceeds the camera’s dynamic range, the highlights tend to become just white and the darks become just black.
- With advanced photo techniques AND editing, you can capture the entire spectrum of the histogram.
Starting Point For HDR Photography
- First, know your camera. How does it “bracket” images?
- Bracketing is the general technique of taking several shots of the same subject using different camera settings. Best done with a cable release.
- Can it capture HDR or multiple exposure compensation images at one time.
- Most DSLR and Mirrorless cameras made in the last 3-5 years have this capability
When To Shoot HDR
- HDR is best shot from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset
- HDR shots DO NOT blend well when there is wind or motion (say from sports or wildlife, waterfalls usually excluded from this rule)
- If the shadows appear TOO DARK and/or the highlights are TOO BRIGHT.
When NOT To Shoot HDR
- Do NOT use HDR when in LOW CONTRAST
- How do you know? Take a picture and look at the histogram.
- If the data doesn’t reach the right or the left and the peaks don’t reach out of the top of the graph (no clipping) then HDR probably won’t help.
- Again, very low contrast.
- You see a bit of clipping on the right (from the waterfalls), but there is plenty of date with which to work with.
- This is the benefit of shooting and working in RAW camera file format.
- HDR is NOT for Silhouettes
- Do NOT use HDR to remove shadows
- It’s better to shoot the scene at the right time of day
- HDR is NOT for shooting people or animals or motion (especially when windy)
BEST TIMES TO SHOOT HDR
- Sunrise Or Sunset
- Bright Brights | Dark Darks
How To Setup | Shoot HDR
- Tripods ARE A MUST (no matter how many articles you read)
- Cable release REALLY helps reduce camera shake
- RAW file format is a MUST!
- Lowest ISO possible for the scene
- Aperture as needed for the scene, just keep the same for all bracketed images
- Take a test shot and look at the histogram
- Will the scene benefit from an HDR approach?
- Here I wanted to bring up the shadows and bring down the highlights.
- I also wanted more color from the sky and from the weathered sagebrush.
- I set my EV or HDR settings for +/- 2 stops
- ISO 100, f22 (to get the starburst through the window)
- Here I shot five images from 1/250sec to .4sec because there was so much of a difference in the lights and the darks.
- Look at the histogram in the 3rd image (the “0” image), you can see that there is a lot of data lost between the field, the forest & Mt. Hood.
Editing & Merging HDR Images
- In Lightroom, I select the images, then right click
- I then select Photo Merge>HDR
- I then get a preview of the image.
- Press Merge to start the HDR blending process.
- You can start in Lightroom or Adobe Bridge, or in Photoshop
- From Lightroom, select your images and Right Click>Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop...
- From Adobe Bridge, select your images and go to the Tools menu>Photoshop>Merge to HDR Pro
- From Photoshop, click File>Automate>Merge to HDR Pro
- On1 is like a mix of Adobe Bridge and PS
- Select your images then right click>Create HDR...
Watch this video where I walk you through the entire process for each software and as a bonus, I'll show you how to finish up your image.
If you'd like to have a copy of these instructions, please fill out the form below and I'll send you the presentation in a pdf.