Expose More Detail with HDR Photography

Expose More Detail with HDR Photography

Get the highest possible dynamic range out of your image.


Ever wonder why even the best photographs can’t compare to the real thing? The human eye has the remarkable ability to adjust light sensitivity on the fly. Cameras, however, can only record a scene using a single exposure. In a scene with high contrast (that is, lots of dark and bright areas), both highlight and shadow details are going to get lost. So suppose you could take several pictures at varying exposures and blend the exposures together? That could make for a very impressive image.




  • A digital camera with aperture priority mode or manual control
  • A tripod or other device to keep the camera still Photomatix Pro ($99, www.hdrsoft.com)
  • A high-contrast scene


1. Get to Know Your Camera


To capture the full dynamic range of a scene, you need to take several shots at varying exposures. The simplest way is to use a technique called bracketing. Classic bracketing is simply taking three exposures of the same scene, one normally exposed, one underexposed, and one overexposed. Most DSLRs and high-end point-and-shoots have an automatic bracketing feature. You can bracket manually by using aperture priority mode and adjusting the shutter speed to achieve the various exposures. A rich HDR photo typically requires three images separated by two stops each.




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stands for High Dynamic Range.



You wrote a whole article about HDR Photography without telling us what "HDR" means.



Is this in the mag as well, or only on the website? If it is website only, any chance we could get a downloadable PDF edition of useful things like this?



There is another technique for capturing the highest possible dynamic range out of your image; it's called film. Shoot film, and scan it yourself for the best of the old and new. Thank you!



I take pictures rarely enough that I would never finish a roll in time, as I hear you should get it developed within a certain timeframe of putting it in the camera.

I take lots of throwaway pictures.

The price of film is increasing, and developing is expensive.

The environmental ramifications of film are substantive.

Ultimately, for many many people (including me) film just is not a great option. And if I'm not mistaken, bracketing was pioneered for higher dynamic range using film cameras, and digital application came later.



More environmental alarmism. It seems to be everywhere these days.
I submit that the manufacturing and disposal of digital cameras and other often barely used electronic products is more of a tax on the environment than the occasional roll of film.
Your negatives will likely be around longer than the digital files, too.
Not because digital files can't last but technology changes so quickly and the majority of people won't do the constant maintenance of transferring files as is needed, also a waste of time, money for newer equipment, and electricity.
I saw a while back a segment on TV about a book, the premise of which was how counter intuitive good environmental practices can be. It was suggested that if you live more than a mile to the grocery store it would be better to take the car than walk.
Just food for thought.
I'm sure the self described, yet in large measure "phoney" environmentalists will forgo the new electronic craze of large flat screen TVs. The most environmentally friendly TV is the small, B&W units from years ago.
Imagine that.

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