How to Shoot HDR Photographs
This is an advanced photography technique that can produce some amazing looking if you can get it right. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is a technique that will allow you to create an image with a higher range between the lights and shadows in an image than is available to single exposure. Here is an example of an HDR image I created:
though there are numerous copyrighted and better composed images if you search google for “HDR”. What’s special about these images is the range of colors and light levels present. For example, to get this image, I had to take 5 different photographs at different exposure levels to capture the light levels present.
Now, what I am showing you is actually a bad example because I did not have a tripod, and thus my images don’t line up very well, but photoshop helped me out there. To begin making HDR images, you will need:
- Camera with exposure settings you can change
- Subject that is not moving
You have to plan for HDR, so begin by lining up your subject on a tripod, metering and getting your white balance set up. Take one base shot that gets the exposure most correct, and then adjust your exposure 1 or 2 EV (F stops) lower and take another photo. Go 1-2 EV above above your base and take another picture. For HDR to work, you need at least 3 photos, though the more the better, for mine I ended up using 5, and up to 9 is good. Make sure all the photos in your HDR sequence are no more than 1 EV in difference from one another (for example, if you’re shooting f22, make sure you have f20 or f24 in your sequence as well)
Once you have your images, open up all of the images in your chosen sequence in photoshop, and go to File->Automate_>Merge toHDR Pro…
If you opened all the images in photoshop, just click Add Open Files, check the box to Align Source Images and then click OK.
Photoshop will then use a lot of processor power for a few seconds and then it will launch a preview of your HDR image. The preview will allow you to manipulate curves, color, saturation, highlights, shadow, detail, exposure, gamma, and edge glow. There is also a Remove Ghosts box that you should check if any of your images have movement. (mine ended up coming out very dark thanks to leaf and camera movement). There are some presets you can play with for further manipulation and ideas, but at this point you’re basically done! Just hit OK on the preview menu and photoshop will create the file for you.