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How to take HDR photos || HDR PHOTOGRAPHY

HDR is an acronym for High Dynamic Range.If you use any special HDR software, you can view all of the light in the final photo which you could see when you’re standing on the spectacle. Maybe you’ve been in a beautiful place and shot a photo and it comes out flat and disappointing. With HDR processing, there is not any longer a requirement for that – now the final image could be as genuinely evocative as it had been when you’re there.

The human eye could see so far more than just a single shot in the own camera! I say there is not any need to take the limitations of this camera. It is possible to use the camera in a simple and innovative approach to replicate exactly what the eye can perform. You are going to be using a combination of the camera and some software to achieve the final look.

The human eye could see about 11 stops of light. A stop is a quantifiable quantity of light. A camera is able to see approximately 3 stops of light. This usually means you’re going to be setting your camera up to take multiple photos of a spectacle, all at different shutter speeds, so you receive the complete selection of light. Do not worry, it’s simple!



Listed below are a number of interesting HDR photographs that I have taken that folks appear to like. This first image below is your first HDR photo ever to hang in the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. I think this really goes to demonstrate how mainstream and approved HDR can be, even if the technique is correctly applied.

Step 1: Tools & Software

First, you have to collect your equipment (camera, lens, tripod) and software. Below are a few tips when it comes to choosing your camera and what tools I recommend to bring together. What equipment do I have? I began with an extremely non-invasive camera, and I have continued to update over time. Presently, I’m using a Nikon D800.

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:

  • Take multiple photos in something called “Auto-bracketing mode” or “Auto-exposure mode” or “Exposure Bracketing” — they are all the same thing.
  • Allows you to shoot in Aperture and adjust the exposure to +1 or +2 for example. If this is confusing to you, no worries, we will get to this.
  • Shoot a single RAW photo. Yes, you can make a beautiful HDR image out of a single RAW!

Tripod.  You are able to do everything handheld, but using a tripod is, in fact, a great deal of fun.

Software.  I prepared a list of software that I use myself to place HDR photos together. The first list of software is my private absolute must (and will probably be discussed in this tutorial), and the next group is entertaining recommended software. All apps that I mention work on either Mac or Windows. I have converted out of a Windows man to a Mac man. I used to dislike Mac individuals and believed they were annoying, but today I’m a changed guy…I digress.

HDR Software:

  • Photomatix Pro – There is a free version (which leaves a nasty watermark) along with also a paid version which you may get a discount, simply use “STUCKINCUSTOMS” code at checkout.
  • Individuals also like my Photomatix Presets which will help give your photos most appearances, from dreamy to grunge and everything in between.

Fun & Optional HDR Software:

Adobe Lightroom – The final measures of the tutorial are you using Lightroom for a few finishing touches. You can find a trial version of Adobe’s website.

Nik and OnOne – All these are just two great packages to possess with you. As soon as you begin post-processing, you are going to want all of the crayons in the box!

Topaz Correct – It will help to bring “pop” and sharpness back into the final photo. The entire Topaz Bundle on the site is also a fantastic option if you want all of the tools they offer.

Adobe Photoshop or Elements – Anything which makes it possible for you to operate in layers is fine indeed, and these will be definitely the most popular. Elements are significantly more economical if you’re on a budget! It is possible to try out both for free at Adobe’s website.

Step 2: Go out and shoot

Now that you have your equipment ready and camera battery billed go somewhere with a nice view and in a fantastic time (when the sky is very clear and blue or in sunset/sundown) and shoot photos. You will need to take multiple photos of the exact same scene at different exposures, so that after you can stitch these photos into one HDR image.

The idea is to shoot under vulnerable, overexposed photos and photos with regular exposure. Later you will combine these photos with post-processing software and will compensate for the high dynamic range which your camera couldn’t see, but your attention could.

Listed below are a Couple of Fantastic tips that will help you out if shooting:

Aperture priority.Place your camera into Aperture Priority mode and flip on Autobracketing. But that is mad. I so seldom do this. 95 percent of this time, I shoot 5 photos in -2 to +2. There is absolutely no discernible benefit in stepping by 1, incidentally. I’m only letting you know that many cameras are somewhat different, and do not worry if yours does it differently.

Bracketing. Though you’re able to produce a fantastic HDR photo in the single RAW, I often like to utilize Autobracketing. Auto bracketing enables your camera to shoot multiple photos (state 3) in rapid sequence. Every one of these photos will be at a different shutter speed. If you’re poking about your camera today, just like for the letters “BKT” for Bracket, and then perhaps it is possible to see how you are able to set it for three exposures in -2, 0, and +2. But more about this shortly.


  • Be 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.
  • If in low light, use a tripod so you have a more steady shot. No tripod? Don’t worry. Photomatix can align them.
  • 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 the noise.

Here is the photo which I took down in Milford Sound, New Zealand, which is extremely close to my new home in Queenstown. I love to return to this location. It constantly feels epic and lovely, but as you can see, the original photo wasn’t really that exciting. I’ll discuss the before and afterward, then we will go through all of the steps together.

Step 3: Create an HDR with Photomatrix
Now in the shot below, you can see all five images I took in Milford Sound, ranging from -2 to +2. I will be merging all five photos into one HDR image with Photomatrix Pro software.

Here are the steps to how you can do it too:

1) Open up Photomatix and load in all the bracketed images. To do this, I dragged the five images from Lightroom onto the Photomatix Icon, but there are many ways to do it. You can select the images from a folder or use Photomatix to load them in.

2) After that, you’ll see this delightful dialog. It looks scary, but it is not. You are welcome to experiment with all of these areas, but the only one I usually check is the bottom option. If I did handheld shots without a tripod, then I would also select the first one there to auto-align.

3) Click Preprocess and your computer will churn away, doing magical and mysterious things. And then you will see…this!

Let’s go through what you see above:
On the left are a series of sliders that let me change the way the photo looks.
On the right are my presets.
Whenever I click on a preset, it dramatically moves around the sliders and drop-downs on the left. You can create your own preset or download one from the internet.

Every photo is unique, and you’ll never get the same results between different kinds of photos. Sunsets, middle of the day, interiors, etc. It’s wild! So, I usually come into Photomatix and just click around on many of my different presets. Some are horrible for one situation but awesome for others! It always changes. In the example above, I started with the preset, “Quaint Hobbit Holes” and then modified some sliders from there.

Okay, this is where it can get confusing for new people, but I will explain it. Do you see at the top how it says “Tone Mapping” and that is selected? And then underneath that, it has the “Details Enhancer” selected? Well, depending on what you choose in those top two areas, it dramatically changes the sliders and options beneath! Don’t let that confuse you.

4) I often do use this Tone Mapping / Details Enhancer combination because it is quite powerful. But I use many of the other combinations as well. After you have fun playing with the sliders, click Process and then you are ready for Finishing Touches. Finishing touches allow you to make a few more final changes in Photomatix before you save the image.

5) Once you have made some final decisions, click Done and save it off!

Let’s just say you are done now. You’re probably very happy with your shot, or at least a bit surprised how fun it was, yes? Personally, I do not stop here. I have a few more steps that I go through using different tools in order to get the final image.



Step 4: Post-processing
Now that you are done with merging the photos into one HDR photograph you can continue editing the shot in your favorite processing program. I used Lightroom & Photoshop.

Lightroom Edits

I often like to use tools like Photomatix and Lightroom to make lots of “versions” of this image, everyone only being a thought experiment. Today, we’re going to use Lightroom to create another version of the image. In my real day-to-day processing, I could make a few Photomatix versions and lots of Lightroom versions.

The final thing, you will notice, if you will allow me to jump forward, is to layer all of them in Photoshop and then combine them into something totally unique that speaks to a personality and your awareness of art-self.

1) Open up Lightroom and import your recently merged HDR image. Then go into Build style and employ or make a preset which would include drama to the middle of your photograph.

2) After applying that shift have a peek at the sliders on the right. A number of them do exactly the things that HDR does. The most important sliders are displayed in the image under the top left.


3) After I am done with Lightroom, I export the image into a temporary directory. By the way, that is the same temporary directory where I have my Photomatix file. Below, you can see the two images side by side.


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