Advanced Photography: HDR

So you’re not an amateur photographer and you want to introduce yourself to some new things. HDR is the perfect next step. You go out on photo-walks with your friends and you see this amazing scene but your camera can’t seem to take the picture exactly how you see it, leaving some areas overexposed with others well lit. Well this usually happens when you encounter a high dynamic range scenery. What that means exactly is the difference between the lightest and darkest you can capture in a photo. Once your camera exceeds the camera’s dynamic range, the highlights tend to wash out to white or the darks become blobs of nothing. This is where HDR photography comes in handy.


HDR is a specific style of photo that has an unusually high dynamic range that couldn’t be achieved in a single photograph. It’s the combination of multiple photos with different shutter speeds. The most simplest HDR has three photos: One underexposed by one stop, one metered “correctly” and one overexposed by a stop. Of course you can always play around and do way more than just one on each spectrum, so play around with it next time you try this. Keep in mind that HDR photography isn’t complete the second you take the photo, you also need to input these photos in a software to merge them together. The software I will be showing today is Photoshop CC 2017 and Adobe Bridge. Let’s begin..

Step One: The first step in creating an HDR image is going out and taking photos! Find a location that has high dynamic range with lots of contrast. A helpful tip is using a tripod for consistency in between your photos.

Step Two: Take a look at your settings. For HDR it’s best to shoot in RAW rather than JPEG. I recommend shooting in Aperture Priority mode simply so that you can set your aperture to one constant setting, having the same depth of field in each photo you take, making it easier to combine. Set your camera metering to Evaluative (Canon) or Matrix (Nikon).

Step Three: You’ll want a camera that has Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) just because it helps you indefinitely. For example: -1,0,+1 is the simplest and is considered a “three bracket”. Also it is best to put your camera on burst mode for quick fire. Go out and shoot!

Step four: You’re back home now with a card full of photos, excellent. Like I said earlier, I will be using Adobe bridge and Photoshop for creating my own HDR example.Open Bridge and find where you stored your photos.

I am an organizing freak, and I like things to be as clear as air. In the above image you can see that I have a stack for A,B,C,D,F and G. There’s a number 3 at the left corner meaning there are three photos in the stack I created. I left E out to show you the difference between stacking and leaving all your photos laid out. So open your photos in bridge and stack the same photos together for your own sanity.

Step Five: So you organized your photos like a good organizing human being and your ready for the next step. The next step is so easy you wont even believe me. First, click on a stack that you are ready to turn into a HDR photo. With that stack selected, click tools – Photoshop – Merge to HDR PRO

Step Six: After you press that, Photoshop will open and begin to create a HDR photo for you.This is the screen that should pop up for you:

As you can see on the bottom left, those are the three photos I used to create my HDR. It doesn’t stop there, and on the right side you see a panel that enables you to further edit the final HDR photo it created for more effect. I went along and played with the saturation and other tools to make it pop more. After you do your final edits and click OK, you officially created your first HDR photo! It really is that simple. Here is my final product compared to the individual photos :


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