On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I set out to capture a great waterfall image. The problem is that no one exposure would do the job. I could capture the sky, and the trees were muddy. If I captured the trees, the sky blew out.


The Solution

Solving this problem was pretty easy. It was a combination of production and post.

  1. I put the camera on my tripod and attached a remote to minimize vibration. These are “should do” and not “must do” steps. Photomatix is very forgiving here with alignment options.
  2. I set the camera to /22 to get a LONG exposure (smooth water and smooth clouds plus great depth of field).
  3. I chose Exposure bracketing. I captured seven exposures that showed the full range of the scene.

HDR Brackets

I then took the image into post. With a quick trip through Photomatix Pro, I merged them together, solved the ghosting issues, and gave a great end result. The image I created is a 16-bit TIFF file that I can open up in Photoshop or Lightroom and apply additional options like Lens Correction or selective adjustments.

Here’s how I did it.

Disclaimer: This is just one way to achieve this kind of shot.