An Introduction to High Dynamic Range Photography by Richmond Camera
High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is becoming increasingly popular now that digital cameras are the norm. The technique itself, however, was actually created by Charles Wyckoff in the 1930s. HDR refers to a technique that allows an image to display a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of the photograph. The intention is to accurately portray the entire range of luminance and do so through a series of bracketed exposures of the same scene so that the result is a stunning display of lighting range.
Many of today’s DSLR cameras have an Auto Exposure Bracketing feature, which will come in handy as you begin experimenting with this technique. The exposure bracketing is simply a way of varying the brightness of the exposure over several sequential frames. Most cameras offer a series of at least three frames while others offer upwards of eleven or more. If you aren’t sure how to set the AEB feature on your camera, check the manual or do an online search for your camera model +AEB. The result should pop up.
You will then need to select your exposure values, which indicate the variance in shutter speed and aperture combinations used to create each image. For maximum effect, choose one complete stop so that you will get a broad range of highlights, shadows and midtones. You’ll also want to set your camera in continuous shooting mode and use the timer.
It’s best to use a tripod for this technique in order to ensure there is no movement between shots as you will be combining multiple images in an editing program later.
Once you’ve finished shooting, you should have a series of images that are underexposed, properly exposed and overexposed. You will then import these images into an image editing program such as Photoshop®, Photomatix or FDR Tools (the latter two being programs specifically designed for creating HDR images).
HDR photography is a fantastic way to play with the more artistic aspects of the craft and allow you to create an image with such variance that it truly stands out among the rest of the images in your portfolio. You may find yourself answering the question, “How did you DO that?” over and over again.