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HDR photography

High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is essentially a way of processing photos that allows for a wider and deeper range of colors. This type of processing makes an image appear much closer to what the human eye sees as opposed to what your camera’s sensor allows. In example, the photograph below (final HDR image) shows the natural rich colors of the house and the vehicles as well as the natural rich colors of the sky. Without HDR, the sky could either be over-exposed (brighter) and the house or vehicles under-exposed (darker), or the house or vehicles over-exposed (brighter) and the sky blown out with more light when the exposure is increased to make the foreground look brighetr. Creating an HDR photo however will allow both elements to appear natural and rich in color.

Click here to see some HDR examples


Basic Tip

Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and review the basics. Camera controls are all about modifying light, either how much light gets into sensor or how sensitive the sensor is to light. The two primary ways to control the light are shutter speed and aperture. Shutter speed or tme value controls how long light is allowed to sensor while aperture or F value controls how much light goes into sensor. These two controls work in conjunction with the ISO setting that controls the light sensitivity to fine tune the light absorbed by the camera. Note that aperture value also controls the overall depth of field or DOF.

Making an HDR photograph

Making an HDR photograph nothing but to combine multiple images with different exposures together. Below there are three images taken at different exposures (under-exposed, right-exposed and over-exposed). When all these three images are merged together, the result is what you can see in the picture down below this article.

under right over

How to merge?

Well, this is very interesting and more creative part of the HDR image processing. There are many different HDR softwares that are commercially available in the market. The best and the one that I use is Photomatix Pro from HDRSoft. I think few free versions are also available although the quality is not guarenteed. Whatever you choose, when the images are merged using any software, the default look may not be very appealing or interesting sometimes. Creativity plays an important role here as to how the light, contrast and tonal adjustments should be made to a HDR image to make it a great looking shot.

Other useful tools

In some situation additional software such as Adjust from Topazlabs may be useful for making final adjustments but these are not absolutely essential as most of the things can also be done using Photoshop and other photo editing tools.


In order to merge and properly align the images using HDR software, make sure that you stand in one spot. I would advise to use camera's auto bracketing mode with tripod instead of taking individual shots by hand. Please refer your camera manual before using this option.

Final Image


Free Tutorial

There are plenty of free turorials available on the Internet to start learning about HDR photography. However, I recommend a book on HDR photography by Rick Sammon which I think a great reference.

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