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Beginner’s Guide to HDR Photography

CC photo courtesy Syed Abdul Khaliq

Capture multiple shots of a scene that is partly in light and partly in darkness. Merge the two, and what you get is HDR, high dynamic range photography that balances the brightness and contrast in these multiple images and gives you a vivid, crystal clear image. The popularity of this form is largely because of its ability to capture the scene just the way a human eye does.

A series of 10 steps can form your guide to HDR photography.
Here you go…

1. Read and memorize each setting on your camera, along with all its functions. Use Google or preferably its manual for this.

2. Automatic Exposure Bracketing proves to be useful in a scene where the brightness of one object completely overshadows another and heightens contrast. This allows an automatic adjustment of exposure for a series of three shots.

3. For HDR photography, use the Aperture priority mode. Once you fix your aperture value, the camera sets the shutter speed automatically. Higher the aperture, greater the depth of the field. So use the value accordingly. Just remember that for HDR, your aperture value needs to be constant. And once you get familiar with Aperture mode, you can switch to Manual mode for custom-made photography.

4. Metering is crucial too. It tells the camera where the light should be brighter in the frame. It’s best to choose Matrix metering here, if you want the entire frame to have equal amount of light. If you want it only one part of the frame, you can choose Spot metering. But it’s advisable to choose Matrix for most part of HDR photography.

5. Higher the ISO value, higher the sensitivity. This means the camera can take pictures at enhanced low light conditions. However, don’t take pictures beyond 800 ISO to avoid graininess in your pictures. In daylight conditions, ISO 200 should do.

6. If you are trying to capture at a relatively slow shutter speed, set the camera’s self timer or get a tripod to keep the camera from shaking.

7. Choose a wide angle lens to capture vast scenes like landscapes which are common subjects for HDR.

CC photo courtesy Jan Sefti

8. Use Manual focus, if you can manage. While Auto Focus happens to be a wonderful bit of technology, Manual Mode allows you to focus on what you really want and keep the rest blurred, or better still, keep everything in focus.

9. Always take your pictures on an even platform, so your pictures don’t come out in a crooked line. It’s best to take the picture in a straight line, rather than correct it later in Photoshop.

10. Most of all, have fun taking HDR pictures. It makes all the difference.

~Zahid Javali