HDR Tutorial

HDR Tutorial – Part 1: What is HDR Photography?

Welcome to the free and simple High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography Tutorial

Chances are, by the time you’ve found your way here you have at least heard of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.  You may have even seen a tutorial or two, or perhaps, this is your first foray.

You want to try your hand at HDR, but aren’t sure where to start; it all seems so overwhelming: tripods, triggers, timers, multiple exposures, RAW processing, tonemapping, noise reduction, software, software, software.  Perhaps you have no idea what I’m talking about already.  No worries, we’ll go through it step-by-step.

So what is this High Dynamic Range Photography?
Imagine you’re in busy city an hour or so before sunset.  You look around you at the buildings and see the detail in the shadows of concrete while simultaneously noting the shapes of the clouds.  Nothing looks over or underexposed to you even though there may be a 3 or 4 stop difference between the clouds and buildings.  This is because human vision is the result of the remarkable hardware that are your eyes combined with the instantaneous post-processing that occurs in your brain.

Your camera, however, is limited.  You can meter the camera to see the details in the buildings, but that will require you to overexpose the sky.  Conversely your camera can be set to “see “the details in the clouds, but the buildings will be dark.  Your camera simply cannot capture the full dynamic range in the scene in front of you in one image.

HDR photography solves this problem.  By taking multiple exposures and blending them, you are able to capture the full dynamic range available to you.  It’s really as simple as that.

Some Examples of what you can create with HDR:
F-8K Crusader and F-14A Tomcat at sunset

Ok, that’s what we can do with HDR.  In the next part of the tutorial we’ll talk over the tools you’ll need in your HDR toolset and get started.
HDR Tutorial Navigation Go to Part 2: The HDR Toolset


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    • Ali

      thanks! let me know if there’s any gaps you need me to fill-in.

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