One thing that you should always keep in mind while taking pictures, is that your camera does not have the same capabilities as your eyes when it comes to seeing both bright and dark tones in a scene. Our eyes are equipped with the most advanced technology, allowing us to see and perceive colors and tones no human-made electronic device can even come close to. This range of tones and colors is known as “dynamic range” in photography, which has become a key performance metric on modern digital camera sensors – the more dynamic range, the better the sensor.
If you have been using a digital camera for a while, you most likely ran into a similar situation as the one I described above, where you would take a picture and parts of it would either be too bright or too dark. No matter what settings you tweaked on your camera, nothing would seem to help, despite the fact that your eyes were seeing everything just right. If you switched your camera to manual control, you could brighten up one area, which would darken another and vice-versa, but no settings would correctly expose both, all due to the large dynamic range of the scene.
What is HDR?
HDR or High Dynamic Range Photography is a post-processing technique that uses multiple images of the same scene shot at different shutter speeds to combine them all into a single photograph. The result is an image with the most amount of detail in both shadow and bright areas of the image, close to what the human eye would see. Although it is ideal to use multiple images of the same scene, you could also create an HDR image from a single image, as long as it is shot in RAW format. Hence, there are two methods of creating an HDR image: a) from a single image and b) from multiple images.
1. Digital camera (preferably a DSLR), iPhones and some Android Phones have HDR built-in
2. Tripod (for multiple exposures)
3. Adobe Photoshop or some other image-editing tool
4. Photomatix Pro or other HDR software that came with Canon or Nikon DSLR's (optional)
Although you could get away without a tripod by shooting hand-held in brackets and let HDR software automatically align the images, it is still recommended shooting with a tripod to get the best results.
For best results, it is highly recommended to do the following:
1. Shoot in RAW if you can.
2. Always keep the aperture the same between the shots, so I recommend shooting in Aperture Priority mode. You do not want to have images with different depths of field.
3. Set your camera metering to Matrix (Nikon) or Evaluative (Canon) to let the camera pick the best exposure for the whole scene. This will be your middle exposure.
4. Use the bracketing function of your camera and shoot in 2 EV steps if you are doing three brackets or 1 EV step if you are doing five brackets. For example: -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 works great for most situations.
Article from Photographylife by Nasim Mansurov: http://photographylife.com/hdr-photography-tutorial#ixzz2cMvgN6Et
For those with Photoshop CS3 and later versions
3 images combined into 1
We're shooting at the overhead bridge between Victoria Park and Typhoon Shelter in Victoria Harbor. We can catch a red sunset with the Hong Kong and Kowloon skyline silhouetted against a setting sun, a perfect shot for HDR photography.
The view from the overhead bridge between Victoria Park and Typhoon Shelter.