How to HDR - better images at difficult light situations
WHAT IS "HDR"?
High-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a is used to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard photographic techniques. (Wikpedia)
WHEN T0 SHOOT HDR?
HDR photography is favorable If you have difficult lightning conditions with a lot of shadows and lights, that would that would result in blown-out highlights/shadows.
The best advice here is just to try it yourself. You 'll learn when it's useful and when it's not really good. Remember: You don't lose anything when you take more images! So don't hesitate.
In this image the sky was completely blown out and the normal image did not turn out that nice. Combining the normal picture with underexposed ones bring the detail back to the sky!
How does it work?
Basically you take a series of images. A normal, an overexposed and an underexposed image. By combing the photos (with a HDR software) we get more information in the shadows and the highlights to eliminate blown-out highlights/shadows.
overexposed (-2) normal underexposed (+2)
set up your camera:
If you are doing this for the first time, do experiment a bit and you will see what works best in different situations.
The best and easiest way is to use exposure bracketing. I like to take either 3 (-2, 0 +2) or 5 (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4) images. It depends on the lightning situation.
Ensure that your tripod stands steady. Use the intervall feature or a self timer and set it up to take the amount of pictures you want to use for your HDR (3 or 5 normally). That means that you do not need to touch your camera when you take the exposure series. Thats crucial for getting a clean and sharp result!
I recommend to use Photomatix Pro. You can create realistic looking images (or fantasy worlds) and play around with a lot of settings. It also has a free trial.
If you do not want to pay a dime you can get a good HDR freeware - Luminance HDR. It produces also quite good results.
It is also possible to use Lightroom or Photoshop but I like Photomatix Pro much more. In Lightroom you have less control over ghosting and the outcome of the HDR image. Same in Photoshop. It's worth giving a try, but in my experience Photomatix Pro creates far better results.
- Tripod (camera should not move when you take the pictures)
- Camera where you can manually control the aperture. Works best if you have a bracketing feature!
- Install HDR Software (Photomatix Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop ... check end of post for more)