Shooting HDR Images (High Dynamic Range)

I’m not usually one for photography “gimmicks”, usually referred to as “Photoshopping”, but there are times when a simple technique, creating HDR images, can get the image you know is in front of you but the camera just isn’t capturing.

Yesterday’s sunrise was a good example. To get the incredible colours of the sky, the exposure resulted in the foreground being dark, and the foreground was a significant component of the image I wanted.

 Whitehorse

The answer is to bracket at least 3 shots at different exposures and then use software to combine them to get an HDR image.

Setting my Canon EOS 7D to bracket images just takes a couple of seconds, then switch the shutter to High Speed Drive, and you’re ready to go. The red-bordered lines in the image below show the normal exposure and the degree of under- and over-exposure that will be shot

Winter sunrise on the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse
The next 3 shots are the bracketed ones that would then be used at home to create the HDR.

Winter sunrise on the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse

Winter sunrise on the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse

Winter sunrise on the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse
I use Photomatix Essentials ($39) and really like it – it’s a simple drag-and-drop, and offers a broad set of options to convert your images to, from minor to drastic. There are many others, though, starting at about $5.00 to test the idea. Click on the HDR image below to open a much larger version in a new window.

Winter sunrise on the Alaska Highway at Whitehorse - HDR image
Just as the sun was rising (at 10:11), I shot another series of bracketed images from one of my favourite viewpoints over Whitehorse, on the Long Lake Road. The exposure bracketing on these was not as wide as on the sunrise images above.

Winter sunrise over the Yukon River at Whitehorse

Winter sunrise over the Yukon River at Whitehorse

Winter sunrise over the Yukon River at Whitehorse
Again, click on the HDR image below to open a much larger version in a new window.


Winter sunrise over the Yukon River at Whitehorse - HDR image

If you’re in a situation where there’s strong contrast between the light and dark areas, give this technique a try – I think you’ll like it. Another subject that it works very well with is building interiors.



Comments

Shooting HDR Images (High Dynamic Range) — 8 Comments

  1. Wonderful pictures and HDR does make a great effect……almost as if the pictures were “alive”.

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  3. Appreciated the shot techniques and your referral of good software. Also thank you for always ID’ng those shots that you have toyed with. I ‘liked’ the sunset shot while finding the city scene overdone.

  4. Having another little catch-up with ExploreNorth. You capture the unique feel of your Winter so well. Like south cove, I appreciate you telling us which shots you have given the HDR treatment. I don’t know much, technically speaking, about tweaking photos, but before I read his comment about the Whitehorse photo, I did actually think to myself that I rather liked the original ‘as-is’ image you took. I definitely see the value of HDR in your first example; you need it to bring out the details of such an interesting subject. Full Summer here; only weeks from your anniversary! Any thoughts of celebrating one back on the spot??!

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