Skip to content

Playing With HDR Photography

Over the last couple of months I’ve found myself playing with HDR photography more and more. Inspired by Trey’s work at as well as plenty of other examples over the web, I’ve been giving it a try.

Quickly explained (in a probably poor and inaccurate manner), HDR photography is a technique that allows for a larger dynamic range between that lightest and darkest areas of an image. This is often achieved by taking photos of the same scene at different exposure settings, then merging the resulting images together. The final image is often a more accurate representation of the light levels in the real-world scene, than can be achieved in a single exposure image.

There’s a lot of information on the web about HDR, including a free HDR tutorial from Trey Ratcliff. I’ve also made use of a few books including Trey’s ‘A World in HDR‘ and David Nightingale’s ‘Practical HDR‘ – both have a good mix of tutorial information and inspiring shots. I’m also wanting to get my hands on Rafael Concepcion’s ‘The HDR Book‘.

When do I use HDR Photography?

I seem to be using the HDR photography technique as much as I can at the moment, but mainly when I’m in one of the following situations:

  • There is a lot of detail present that I want to capture
  • There is a mix of shadow and bold colour to capture
  • When I don’t want a blown out sky, but want to still be able to see what’s in the foreground

I’m sure there are better solutions (especially for the last), than using HDR, so feel free to share them in the comments section.

When I go to take the shot, it is then when I decide if I’m going to use HDR or not and configure my camera as such (to get three different exposure levels). More often than not, the resulting image seems to work out, though not always.

I had quite a few RAW shots from my recent Thorpe Park trip, so I’ve also been playing with creating HDR photos from a single raw shot. However, I am yet to come out with a result I’m pleased with. I’ve found that the resulting image seems to be extremely noisy – has anyone else had this issue?

What do I use?

My photos are taken on my Canon 500D, normally using my 28-135mm or 50mm lens (both of the examples below are taken on the first).

For software processing, it’s into Lightroom, exported to Photomatix, back into Lightroom, into Photoshop if required (the two examples below weren’t although the one of the Guildhall probably should have been to get rid of some of the ghosting of people), then back to Lightroom for final touchups/enhancements.

Here’s a couple of example shots from the last month or so.

Example 1 – Bath Guildhall

Bath Guildhall Lit up for Party in the City 2011

This photo was taken during the Party in the City event in Bath in May 2011. I’ve gone for a slightly unrealistic representation of the scene, but like the way the building looks as a result of it being lit up and how it contrasts with the sky.

Example 2 – Saw Alive at Thorpe Park

Saw Alive at Thorpe Park

This photo is taken of the side of the Saw Alive boat at Thorpe Park and using HDR really helps bring out the wood effect on the side of the boat.

So you can see the difference – here is one of the original shots at the middle (almost normal) exposure:

Saw Alive at Thorpe Park

As you can see, it lacks a lot of the details which can be found within the HDR image, especially in the sky, which just appears white in this image. In actual fact, it was a slightly grey day and although not quite as extreme as can be seen in the HDR photo, I quite liked the look that it gave.

What do I need to improve?

A lot.

  • I’ll mainly improve through practice and trying out different techniques in Photomatix, which is why I’m trying to process some HDR photos as often as I can.
  • The biggest issue – I really need a tripod. Really Really. I’ve got reasonably stable hands, but they just won’t do and a lot of the poor results I’ve got have been as a result of shooting handheld. I’ve got some money aside to get myself a tripod, so suggestions for sub £200 tripods (and preferably sub £150) in the comments please.
  • I need to improve the masking out of objects and people. I’m still new to Photoshop, but I’ve certainly been improving as I’m using it more. The main issue I’ve found is that I can get impatient – I want to see it finished, which means some of it can be a little sloppy.

So that is a brief look at some of my early HDR photos. Work I like I post up on my Flickr Page as and when I take and process. Time depending though, I may occasionally share some shots here.

Posted in Photography.

Tagged with .

77 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. says

    I almost never comment, however i did a few searching and wound up here Playing With HDR
    Photography – I Was Going To Say. And I actually do have some questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Is it just me or does it look as if like some of these remarks look like
    they are left by brain dead people? :-P And,
    if you are writing on additional online social sites, I’d like to keep up with
    everything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of every
    one of all your communal sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  2. scie a chantourner classement says

    Very rapidly this website will be famous among all blogging and site-building people, due
    to it’s pleasant content

  3. says

    Hello to every body, it’s my first visit of this weblog;
    this blog carries awesome and truly excellent data designed for visitors.

  4. Lea says

    Hello to all, the contents existing at this website are actually amazing for people experience,
    well, keep up the nice work fellows.

  5. says

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading
    it, you could be a great author. I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will
    come back at some point. I want to encourage you to
    definitely continue your great writing, have a nice holiday weekend!

  6. says

    If you are going for most excellent contents like me, just pay a quick
    visit this web site everyday because it gives feature contents, thanks

  7. says

    What i do not understood is in reality how you’re now not really a lot
    more neatly-preferred than you may be right now.
    You are so intelligent. You already know therefore
    significantly in the case of this topic, made me for my part consider it from numerous various
    angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to
    be fascinated until it’s something to do with Lady gaga!
    Your individual stuffs great. Always deal with it up!

  8. appareil a fondue says

    Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this web page regularly, this web site
    is truly nice and the visitors are truly sharing nice thoughts.

  9. taille haie electrique says

    I am really delighted to read this web site posts which includes tons of
    useful facts, thanks for providing such statistics.

  10. ventilador sin aspas says

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually
    know what you’re speaking approximately! Bookmarked.
    Kindly also discuss with my site =). We can have a link alternate arrangement between us

  11. lavapavimenti classifica del 2017 says

    Because the admin of this website is working, no doubt very quickly it will
    be renowned, due to its quality contents.

  12. says

    At this time it looks like Drupal is the top blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  13. Vĩ Hùng says

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest.
    I’m going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week.
    I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  14. Ardis says

    I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This post posted at this site is
    genuinely pleasant.

  15. Manuela says

    I love it when people get together aand share ideas.
    Great site, stidk with it!

  16. Free Hosting says

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d
    like too shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog yyou might be interested
    in hearing. Either way, great website and I lookk
    forward to seeing it expand over time.

  17. Lion Head Bracelet says

    Hi there, all is going wll here and ofcourse every
    one is sharing facts, that’s really fine, keep up writing.

  18. Smart Watch Tactical V3 says

    This is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to thee blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate information… Appreciate your sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  19. Smart Watch Tactical V3 says

    Asking questions arre genuinely good thing if you
    are not understanding anything entirely, hwever this post provides pleasant understanding even.

  20. Tactical Smartwatch says

    I am regular visitor, how are you everybody?
    This paragraph posted at this web page is in fact

  21. Top 5 Useful Apps that Enhance your Instagram Experience says

    Iloved as much as you’ll receive carried out rright here.

    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you comnand get got ann nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquesztionably come further formerly again since exactly
    the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

  22. Hafgram says

    Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your web site by accident, and I am shocked why this coincidence did not happened in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

  23. Free Shipping says

    Greetings, I believe your website may be having
    internet browser compatibility issues. When I take a look
    at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when oplening in I.E.,
    it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to progide you with a quick heads up!
    Asidee from that, excellent website!

  24. Mosquitron says

    Howdy, I doo believe your blog could be having web browser compatibility problems.
    Whenever I look at yoir website in Safari, it
    looks fine however, when opening in Intrnet Explorer,
    itt has some overlapping issues. I just wanted
    to give you a quick heads up! Asside from that, wonderful

  25. tworzenie stron www html program says

    Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your
    blog. You have some really great articles and I believe I
    would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of
    the load off, I’d really like to write some articles for your blog in exchange
    for a link back to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested.

  26. reusable stainless steel metal straw says

    Good article! We ɑre lіnking to this great aгticle on ߋur website.
    Keep upp the good wrіting.

  27. environmentally friendly straws says

    Heⅼlo, foor all time i used to check webpagee posts here
    eaгly inn the daylight, as i like to learn more and more.

1 2

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.