Share this post with your friends:
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

HDR: Is a Three Step Process

The biggest mistake HDR shooters make is trying to rush 
the process. Some think its as simple as shooting the photos and running them through a merging application. Others try to save even more time and use in-camera HDR solutions. 
While both of these options can make a better photo 
than just a traditional exposure, they don’t really embrace the full capabilities of HDR imaging. For that, you need to truly 
take a three-step process.

Shoot

Using the bracketing option on your camera (or manually adjusting exposure), you’ll successfully capture two or more shots. The most common number of exposures taken is three, in which a base exposure is used and then an under- and overexposed image are acquired to preserve the highlights and shadows. Typically these multiple exposures are taken from a tripod to ensure that there is no movement between each exposure.  However some users do shoot handheld and rely upon the software to help them align the images.

The base image plus an overexposed and underexposed frame are used to create the HDR image.

You can use any combination of exposures to properly show the scene. The wider the dynamic range of the scene, the higher the number of exposures you’ll need. If the light source is directly in the frame, you may need as many as seven exposures. Alternately, some photographers choose to just increase the amount of exposure compensation between the shots.

Don’t forget that all the old photographic rules apply. You need to use good judgment. There’s no substitute for great light, a great subject, great composition, picking the right angle and lens, etc. Simply applying HDR techniques to a bad photo just makes it into a bad HDR photo (that you spent more time on).

merge2

Merge

The next task you’ll perform is merging. This process can be handled using tools built right into Photoshop or using dedicated stand-alone applications. There are also a wealth of third-party tools to choose from (which we’ll explore a little later).  Many of the software tools can compensate for ghosting (caused by slight camera or subject movements) as well as resolve alignment issues.

There are two major approaches to creating a HDR image:

  • Merge-only. If you shot JPEG or TIFF, you may choose to bypass preprocessing your photos. Some photographers also bypass developing their raw files and just pass the default values from their camera to their processing app. This is less desirable than taking the time to tweak the photo.
  • Develop and Merge. By processing the individual panels (especially if they are raw photos), you can improve the end results. This approach takes extra work but can produce dramatically better results. Don’t develop all the files manually. Just use the base exposure (the one with 0 EV) and then sync its settings to the other exposures.

merge

Refine

Once the source images are merged, you’ll be able to adjust the new image to refine its appearance. There are several ways to approach this task and they all depend upon your personal goals. The same source photos can be used to create a photorealistic image with improved dynamic range, a surrealistic painting, or a dramatic black and white photo.

In most HDR software, you’ll find useful presets that can get you close. It’s then possible to refine the image using a few tweaks of available presets. Some programs use simple sliders that you can adjust to get the result you want. Properties like Glow, Detail, and Saturation are some of the most frequently adjusted. But the fun doesn’t have to stop there.

You can continue to work on the photo using your photo editing software. Basic transformations like cropping and straightening can be undertaken to improve composition. Additional tonal and color correction can also be performed for corrective or even stylistic outcomes.

 

To lean more, be sure to visit our HDR Learning Center.

 

Share this post with your friends:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

You might also like:

Thanks to our partners who make Photofocus possible:

Drobo – Drobo is the smartest storage solution in the world. Drobo is storage that protects data — photos, videos and everything else — from hard drive failure. Drobo is peace of mind for the working pro or serious amateur who have a lot of external drives cluttering up the desktop. Save 10% with the coupon code PHOTOFOCUS.

Lume Cube – Proudly known as the World’s Most Versatile Light™, Lume Cube represents the future of LED Lighting. Check out the new Lume Cube STROBE, offering anti-collison lighting for drones!

Backblaze – Get peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Back up your Mac or PC just $6/month.

B&H – B&H is a world renowned supplier of all the gear photographers, videographers, and cinematographers need and want to create their very best work.

Skylum – Your photos, more beautiful in minutes. Makers of Luminar, Aurora and Photolemur, Skylum adapts to your style and skill level. Check out the new Luminar 3, now available.

Perfectly Clear Complete – Built for precision. Made for beauty. Perfectly Clear has mastered the science of intelligent image correction – creating superior quality photos in record time, so you can get back to doing what you really love…in no time. Special Photofocus deal here.

Viewbug – Learn and improve your photography with over 500 videos. Trusted by millions around the world, join over 2 million photographers who already use Viewbug.