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HDR Photography Made Simple

Monday, June 18th, 2012 by | Filed Under: Android, Digital Photography, iOS

For starters, HDR photography is where your pictures capture both the shadows and light areas much more vividly than the regular camera lens. Our eyes do that already, which is why the brightest area in our vision is balanced off with the darkest area and we get a truly dynamic sight in front of us.

But the cameras are not so well equipped, and have their limitations. Here is where HDR comes in. 

The normal procedure for creating an HDR image is to use a tripod (or any stable platform) and take three pictures in the same setting and angle, but at three different exposures: normal, under exposed and over exposed. From there, you go to a photo editing software like Photoshop and Photomatix and fuse these images into one. The procedure demands time and some experimentation before you get a truly great HDR photo.

But what if these pictures are taken automatically? Here is where there are many HDR apps for iOS and Android. The app that works for both is Pro HDR and TrueHDR. And if you are looking for something more exclusive to Android, there’s HDR Camera+.

The procedure
All these HDR apps function on the same principle: just open the app and compose your shots before pressing your finger on the touchscreen to activate the shot. However, one important thing is to not to shake the camera when the shot is being taken. This is because the app is taking three different exposures one after the other. It’s important that the same angle is being photographed.

The settings

Before you take your first HDR picture, go to the settings and make some essential changes. For example, if you were to use the HDR Camera+ app (there’s free and paid version for $3.99), you can determine the color vividness of the photo: black and white, pure, standard or saturated colors. We recommend you to go for Standard or Pure. The next setting is for ‘local contrast’. Here, you can set it low, high or normal. 

Then, there’s the ‘exposure’ setting, where you can either go for normal or bright. Experiment here to see which you like. 

Now comes the most important part: noise reduction. Go for ‘minor’ or ‘hard’ depending on what you want – if you’re unsure, put a checkmark for ‘none’. If you want all adjustments to be made automatically – which is recommended – ensure you checkmark ‘auto adjustments’. Similarly, say ‘off’ for the ‘flash’ setting. If your phone has less memory, opt for the lowest mega pixel in the ‘image size’. However, the picture you are taking needs to be blown up life-size, opt for the highest mega pixels. Pretty obvious stuff.

Out of focus shots
If you are getting out of focus shots in your merged HDR image, perhaps your camera is refocusing your shots and mucking up the picture. If that is the case, go to the app’s settings, and put a checkmark to ‘re-focus on each shot’.

If you have the latest Android phone, this app will allow you to tag your location along with the pictures. However, you have to enable it in Settings/Location Tagging. Although if you are out and about and don’t want to drain your battery that much, avoid using this feature.

Once you’ve taken the picture, you will be given four options: custom, natural, candy, artistic. Some pictures look great in each of these settings. So treat every photograph differently. You can even correct the exposure, contrast, micro contrast and color vividness in real-time on the screen itself.

Last word
If you are into taking pictures without a noise or without letting someone know you are taking pictures, mute the shutter. And you can do that with the HDR Camera+ app here: Settings/Mute Shutter.

Happy HDR photography!
~Zahid H Javali

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