HDR Photography & Bracketed Shooting

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When shooting, there are instances where the subject you’re trying to capture is in a place where the highlights are blown out and the shadows are extremely dark. An example of this would be shooting a sunset at a beach with part of a cove in the frame. Normally, when shooting something like this, that means when exposing to get the shot, you’d have one of two choices; either over expose the shot to make sure the shadows and blacks are recoverable in post or under expose the shot to save the highlights, but loose the details in the darker parts of the photo. But what if there was a way to get both, the lows and the highs?

HDR, or High Dynamic Range, photography does exactly this. How it works is through bracketing, or taking multiple shots of the same image at a set exposure, over exposed and under exposed, giving you a photo that captures the range of highlights and shadows in one photo that retains all the information.

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For this technique, a tripod is essential to make sure that the shot is the same through the bracketing process, and it’s highly suggested to use a remote trigger so that you don’t move the camera when releasing the shutter. Some cameras, like my Nikon D7100, have a bracketing mode, which you can adjust how many shots are in the bracket. After taking all your shots, the next step is to use software to merge those photos together. For this example, I’m importing all my photos into Adobe Lightroom CC, selecting them together, then right Ctrl+H to merge the photos together into one image. The import screen will give ways to adjust the photo before making a final image, so use this step to adjust accordingly. Clicking “Merge” after that will create an HDR image using all the selected photos. The photo that’s generated as a result has that greater dynamic range to create more dynamic images.

Try using this technique out and tag me to show me what you’ve done.