How to Shoot HDR Photos

Post processing is only one part of HDR photography. To get great looking HDR images, you not only have to know the editing process, but also how to shoot photographs with the intention of turning them into high dynamic range images. Fortunately, Trey Ratcliff was thoughtful enough to have an assistant take some behind-the-scenes footage of a recent HDR photoshoot in the gorgeous British Virgin Islands. Ratcliff then turned the footage into a concise, but informational tutorial on what to do in the field. Take a look here and we’ll discuss some of the key points:

For this shoot, Ratcliff called on his trusted Nikon D800 with a Nikon 14-24mm, but he does mention using a 28-300mm quite regularly as well. It depends on what he’s trying to capture. In this case, shooting at a wide 14mm, distorts the rocks in the foreground. An effect Ratcliff is looking for because, well, as he says in the clip, “a distorted rock still looks like a rock.” Sometimes a little distortion adds to the photograph, just use a discerning eye.

how to do hdr

Next, Ratcliff sets up his camera and tripod in the desired location and adjusts his base exposure, aperture, etc…accordingly. While he’s in the menu of his camera, he sets it to take seven images, each of which range from a  -3 to +3 exposure.

hdr photography

He’ll use all seven of those images to create one perfectly exposed image, taking an especially sharp one from the mid-exposure range and masking it in on top of the tone-mapped version, which eliminates the movement of the water.

high dynamic range

As you can see in the video clip, taking the actual images to use in HDR photography is relatively uncomplicated, but a little forethought goes a long a way.

For Further Training:

Trey has released an extensive HDR photography training course.

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One Comment

  1. Ron Ferguson says:

    This was very good, but I am unclear as to how Trey avoided all the blur he would get in the final results. I heard him say something about a middle shot being masked in, but I’d like to learn how he did that.

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