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Create Great HDR Images without a Remote Trigger

One of the frustrations when combining multiple exposures into an HDR image is ghosting. This appears if the camera has shifted even the slightest bit between images. HDR processing software like Lightroom or Photomatix Pro can do a pretty good job at aligning the images and removing ghosting, but it doesn’t always work.

The secret is to keep your camera still while you’re taking the exposures, and do it as quickly as you can without touching the camera in-between shots. Its common to use a remote shutter release to keep your camera still, but what if you don’t have one with you? On your camera, its really easy to configure a 2-second self-timer to eliminate the camera shake caused by pressing the shutter button. And the best part, we can set the timer to take all 3 or 5 exposures just by pressing the shutter button once.

Lets walk through how to configure our 2-second timer to take 3 exposures on my Nikon D810.

In the camera menu, navigate to the Custom Setting Menu.

Scroll down to Timers / AE Lock and press Ok.

Navigate down to C3 Self-Timer to change the self-timer settings.

Inside the Self-Timer menu, set a self-timer delay. I have mine set to 2 seconds, which is long enough to stabilize the camera without waiting forever after I press the button. 10 seconds doesn’t sound long, but it feels like forever in the field.Once you choose your duration, press Ok.

Back in the Self-timer menu, choose the number of shots you normally take as an HDR. Most of the time, 3 frames is sufficient for HDR. If you prefer 5 frames, set this to 5.

And that’s it. Configure your camera to shoot bracketed exposures like you normally would and shoot in the self-timer mode.

Next time you’re in the field and you forget your remote trigger, don’t forget about using the self-timer. Its also a great option if youre traveling light and don’t have room for a remote trigger in your bag.

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