Example of an HDR photographHDR or High Dynamic Range is a photography method that allows you to capture the range of color and light from the lightest to darkest areas of your subject as the human eye sees it.  Even the highest end digital cameras lack the ability to capture the full range of intensity as we see it with the naked eye.  With HDR imaging you shoot a bracketed series of images with normal exposure, over exposure and under exposure and then use a post-processing software program to merge the images and manipulate them to a more true to life representation of the subjects light and color range.  Much of the HDR process is in the post processing of the image.  But these seven quick tips are all related to the first part of the process, capturing the images in your camera.  For post-processing tips there is a plethora of how-to videos on YouTube including the one I included at the end of this post which deals with one of the most popular HDR processing software packages, Photomatix Pro.

1) Keep your camera set to Aperture Priority (A, Av, AP depending on the make and model of your camera).  This will allow the camera to bracket the shutter speed while keeping the aperture consistent.

2) Different Cameras will have different options, but you can generally select either 3 or 5 bracketed images.  Start with 3 and see what kind of results it gets you.  Then see if 5 gets you even better results.  Or you can always manually bracket and go up to 7 if you want.

3) Again, the number of stops your camera’s automatic bracketing works with will vary by brand.  But I have found that 2 stops works pretty well.  Start with your higher number of stops and then try a few images with a .5 or .3 bracket to see how that works.

4) Always shoot in RAW.  This gives you more control in post-processing.

5) Let the camera auto focus and then lock in that focus by switching to manual focus without losing the auto focus setting.  Some cameras may also have a focus lock option to can select once auto focus has set the focus.  this will prevent the focus from changing during the bracketed shots.

6) Tripod, tripod, tripod.  It is almost impossible to do quality HDR photography without using a tripod.  You need keep the camera steady and focused on the exact same spot for each of the bracketed exposures so that when they are merged every aligns properly.

7) To further help keep things steady use a cable release or your camera’s self timer.  Even the slightest touch from your finger pressing the shutter button can shake the camera enough to misalign the images.

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