HDR Photography - Tips

posted on 7th of december, 2012

Love HDR photography? I agree it is interesting. But are you doing it the "professional" way? It is not always easy to get HDR photos perfect because of little things we often ignore.
Here is the quick list you must scan through mentally every time you're out for that perfect HDR photo:

1. Whenever possible, use Aperture Priority mode and set bracketing to +-2 of the normal 0EV. You can always take 5 shots at -2,-1,0,1,2 EV but it uses more processing time, creates a mess and produces the same photo (almost) as that at -2,0,+2 EV.
2. Are you using a compact camera like Canon PowerShot series? Take care! It is internally programmed to limit shutter speed of all Aperture Priority shots to 1sec. If you're shooting a night HDR, you'll get all photos underexposed. The only way around is - use manual mode.
3. Use a tripod, ALWAYS. Tilt corrections can always be made. But they affect image quality. In case you don't have a tripod, try placing the camera on something. You could hold on to the strap so that it runs no risk of falling and you could use 5s timer to avoid even minimum motion blur.
4. Do basic chromatic problem removal and noise reduction (if needed) on all three images before combining them to HDR. They worsen many times over in the final output if you don't.
5. If you're photographing images with gradients (like skies, domes), always try to keep bracketing values low. Use +-1 instead of +-2. It avoids banding in final image. Best way - try +-2 AND +-1 - 5 shots - smooth gradients.
6. NEVER change the aperture in between if you're using manual mode. It will change depth of field and HDR might not be sharp.
7. Inspect HDR closely before submitting. Too high contrast makes patches or gives serious noise problems which will give you rejections.
8. While taking HDR of sky/clouds, make sure you're not exposing sensor to direct sunrays. By the time you set the camera, you may get damage done to the camera.

HDR photography is all about capturing different exposures of the same scene, right? But unluckily we seem to forget it all the time. At least the newbies almost always do. Whenever you shoot HDR images, make sure that the normal exposure (usually 0EV) has no/very little underexposed or over exposed areas. If most of it is under exposed, just set normal exposure at +1/3 or +2/3 EV, etc and then apply +-2 bracketing. No use shooting in HDR at all if you get the sky overexposed in all the shots! It causes a lot of disappointment later.

APPLICATIONS (best uses):
- Make boring scenes vivid and detailed. Especially skies.
- Long exposure shots like waterfalls or ocean against rocks.
- Product photography when you have no studio setup at home.
- The still life photos below were shot with horrible and totally unacceptable lighting with harsh shadows but look, HDR at work!

Good luck! (sorry about the tripod - but you gotta carry it if you really want what you want)

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Comments (11)

Posted by Hermes-sicily on January 05, 2013
Nice post, thank you for the tips !
Posted by Matthewbam on December 19, 2012
I wrote a book about HDR Photography that came out recently.


Need someone to review it on Amazon. matthewbam@aol.com
Posted by Miraclemoments on December 10, 2012
Nice write up...I have not done an HDR in ages....must give it another go. I have one HDR image online if I recall.....
Posted by Peanutroaster on December 10, 2012
Interesting info!
Posted by FabioConcetta on December 08, 2012
Great blog, very interesting!
Posted by Egomezta on December 07, 2012
Great, thanks for sharing.
Posted by Suyerry on December 07, 2012
Nice Blog, good directions. I will have to try this. Thanks!
Posted by Robinstockphotos on December 07, 2012
Thank you!
Well I'm good enough with HDR. No HDR was declined up here. But I'm barely starting.
I'm 18, have to take care of studies and don't have a DSLR. Makes it more of a challenge. But hey, I love challenges! ;)

Add me to favorites list in case you want to follow. I'll post more and better articles often
Provided you people encourage me like crazy. :)
Posted by M4rio1979 on December 07, 2012
I agree with you. I just made my first hdr image yesterday and I am very happy with results. I also used three exposure images of 0 -2 +2 EV. What I don't like with hdr is over processing which is very common with hdr images today. I always seek the most natural hdr look as possible. Specialy for landscape photography. I will try and test five exposures in future to see if I can get better quality images. Btw. thanks for the tip for removing noise before merging photos.
Posted by Clearvista on December 07, 2012
Great blog thanks. I do take HDR but it had never crossed my mind about product shots with HDR. I will experiment with that thank you. I use photomatix software.
Posted by Perstock on December 07, 2012
Great article Pratik!
I will work on this :-)

Comments (11)

This article has been read 1114 times. 7 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Pratik Panda, Dmytro Tolokonov.

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