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5 HDR Photography Basics with a Digital Camera

Learn five HDR photography basics from commercial photographer Dan Bracaglia in this digital photography lesson from Howcast.


Another popular form of photography that you'll see especially on Flickr is HDR photography, and what HDR stands for IS " High Dynamic Range," and what that literally means is on a camera like this or a DSLR.

Essentially, what you're going to do is you're going to take multiple exposures, let's just say three for example, one that is under exposed, one stop, two stops, a half of stop. One that's right on the money, and one that's over exposed by one stop, two stops, a half of stop whatever, and then you use a program, there's various programs out there that can do this. Photoshop is another way to do it. You basically mash those exposures together, and it fills in the full photo range of your image, giving you a sort of surreal looking photograph with this sort of looking surreal looking light.

People really like it because it gives you a really interesting look, it gives you a lot of great detail, and the more exposures that you combine together the more tonal range you're going to get in the overall image.

So, a real practical use for HDR photography is when you have a scene, where let's say it's a landscape of the pond and the sky with clouds and trees where the pond, and the trees, and the sky are all different exposures, and you want to bring them all in so that it looks good, and so that everything looks as beautiful as possible.

What you can do is make three different exposures. One for the pond to get the reflections, one for the trees to get the shadows, one for the sky to bring that in, and then combine them all together either by hand or using a HDR program, and it will give a really nice effect.

Again it might look a little bit surreal because it's not true to real life, but it's going to look really beautiful and it's a really great way to accomplish that look.

A lot of pocket cameras or point and shoot cameras and even some DSLR's even had HDR mode that will physically let shoot three images when you push down the shutter and mash them together for you.

The Iphone also has a HDR mode that does the same thing. It will mash together three different exposures to give you greater tonal range.

I'm not a huge fan of HDR myself, because I think it gives it a little bit of a cheap look, but when done tastefully it can be really, really effective.

If you're planning on doing one on your own, and mashing it together in post production, not in the camera it's important to remember to keep your camera absolutely steady whether it be balanced on a tri-pod, on a ledge, anything because if that camera moves at all when you're trying to line up the various exposures it's going to look really wonky and give a just nasty effect.

These are just the basics of HDR photography.

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