Introduction to High Dynamic Range Photography


Introduction to HDR PhotographyIntroduction to High Dynamic Range Photography

The High Dynamic Range photography (also known as HDR photography) is quite popular among photographers around the world. And the thing that makes this photography technique so magnetic is, the awesome result it produces.

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Below is an example of a HDR photograph:

HDR Photography

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Stunned? As you should be. That’s the magic of HDR photography. The human eye is capable of distinguish color tones as they appear according to the lightning conditions. But, with the use of HDR photography, we defy this basic law of nature. We capture a single photograph at multiple exposure and then merge them all so that there is very little contrast range difference. The result is, a stunning HDR photograph for you to drool upon.

In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to take such high quality and stunning HDR photographs. All you need to have with you is:

  • A digital camera with manual exposure settings
  • Preferably, a tripod stand
  • A little creativity

That’s it. Pack your bags if you have the above listed things to take a ride in the world of HDR. To set an example, I’ll be taking an image that I myself have photographed few weeks back. Here is the final example thing which you’ll get:

Bike HDR PHotography 2

All the HDR magic revolves around only one technique, that is called Exposure Bracketing. Let me explain what it actually means.

Every digital camera has an exposure meter which controls the amount of light entering the camera aperture while photographing a particular subject. If you set the exposure meter at a lower value, low light will pass through the aperture and as a result, the high light areas will appear unique. On the other hand, shifting the exposure meter to a high value will yield in highly light areas to be over-exposed and the low lit areas come as a perfect contrast subject.

To make a photograph truly HDR, you have to take following steps:

  • Attach your camera to the tripod. This is to ensure that your camera doesn’t shake while taking the shot and the frame is also constant.
  • Take a photograph at the lowest exposure setting. Don’t worry, if it looks like the photograph being taken is complete black or dead. It isn’t 😉

dark bike photography

  • Take another photograph of the same subject while keeping the exposure meter at exact middle of the scale. The photograph would come out to be of moderate lightning.
  • Take the final photograph at the highest exposure settings, making sure that you do not change your frame of photography and the camera is still on the tripod. Do not worry if the photograph comes too bright or over-exposed. This is how it would look at extreme settings:

Light HDR bike photography

Now, once you have all the three photographs, time for some digital editing!

  • Open Adobe Photoshop
  • Import all the three images as separate layers
  • Merge them over one another
  • Adjust the image curve slightly to suit your needs

final bike hdr photography

And voila! You have created your own HDR image! Well, that was easy. Isn’t? Now, what all is left is, using your creativity to the extreme so that you can come up with amazing HDR photographs of your own. Do let us know if you found this tutorial interesting by dropping your comments bellow.

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  1. Hermitbiker June 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    …. thanks Ayaz, you are right…. a very well done article with lots of information as to how to create HDR Photographs…. awesome, my compliments to your friend Rishabh for authoring this superb post !! 🙂

    1. Ayaz Malik June 7, 2010 at 11:06 pm

      your very welcome hermitbiker 🙂

  2. MCSE courses UK June 10, 2010 at 5:45 am

    I love the way of photography and designing. Looking for some more photography. And these article is going to help me a lot.

  3. Al Kamal Md. Razib June 17, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Great Tips of photography ! Nice ! I like your posting ! Thanks.

  4. Clipping path designer October 2, 2010 at 4:16 am

    Nice article about dynamic range photography. Very informative post. Thanks for share. 🙂

  5. Alexander November 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Very interesting. This is something I have to try out. And you actually made me look into my camera a second time now as I initially thought that I didn’t have the option to set exposure settings, but it sure was there. Silly me!

    Will try this one out instantly!

  6. Rawan November 29, 2010 at 10:13 am

    This is quite informative, but to make taking the pictures easier: Some cameras have Auto Exposure Bracketing option. With it, you can preset the 3 different exposures you want to take, and then with one click, the camera will take the three different shots with the multiple exposures by itself. Very time saving and helps minimize the tedious process of having to manually change your exposures each and every time.

  7. Alexander November 29, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Now that is indeed interesting Rawan. Perhaps I could somehow make my camera do that, even if it doesn’t support it at the time. With my current Firmware it does support scripts.

  8. Rawan November 30, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Well Alexander, maybe your camera can do that; why don’t you take a look at the manual (If you still have it) or search on the web for more info about it.
    And, there is also a program called Photomatix Pro. It’s especially designed for HDR, and it has all the tone mapping options that you need to make after you merge your images together. Unfortunately, Adobe needs a plugin for those options.
    Good luck for everyone!:)

  9. Web Inventa March 28, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Very nice tips. Hope we are get benefit from this site. Thank you for share

  10. Carlos March 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Very nice.
    This is on of my pics using this HDR effect.
    Enjoy it!

  11. telusly September 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Hehe, I love… Also, this is super cute, and the conversation is fun xD

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