If you want to expand your skills with a point and shoot camera, nothing is more intriguing than High Dynamic Range Photography or HDR. It’s a blast!
OK! What is it? It involves combining usually three or more photos of the same subject, taken at three different exposure values.
What’s so cool about this? Think about taking a photo inside of a barn, aiming your camera toward a window on a bright sunny day.
You may pick up some detail in your photo from inside the building, but anything from outside the window will be way too bright and indistinguishable. In photographic terms, this means that the detail outside the window would be “blown out.”
When you are in this building your eyes adjust to details—not only what’s inside, but also to details outside the structure. Simply, a camera cannot interpret all these details at the same time with one normal exposure. This is where HDR photography comes in!
So, if you can take one exposure (normal exposure), a second exposure (over exposure), and a third (underexposed) and then combine them, you will have all the details that the eye can perceive. Does this make sense?
Then using a special software program, all three exposures are processed together, and a finished HDR photo will result with wonderful detail and tone quality that could not be done with just one normal exposure. You’ll be impressed!
With a simple point and shoot camera (as long as it has an Exposure Value (EV) meter) you are in luck. Check your manual on how to bring up the meter.
On most P&S cameras, your meter will have a zero setting (0) and to the right of this, the overexposed side, will read +1 and +2. The underexposed side of the (0) will read -1 and -2.
Also, if you use a P&S camera you must use a tripod to shoot HDR. It’s almost impossible to hand hold a camera, change settings, and perfectly line up the shot again without some type of distortion. The camera must be held steady as a rock!
Turn off all the automatic stuff (e.g. automatic flash). Make sure to take the first shot at an EV setting of 0. Go to your EV meter, without moving the camera and dial in +2. Press “OK’ on the menu. Take the shot.
Once again, go back to the EV meter without moving the camera, and dial in -2. Press “OK’ on the menu and take the shot. Remember to return your EV meter back to zero when finished.
You now have a photo taken with three different exposure values and are ready to convert them to HDR. There are plenty of free trial HDR software programs for you to try. It’s worth investigating to find out which one is for you and to see if High Dynamic Range Photography is your cup of tea.
About the Author
Thom Richards is an amateur photography who loves Oregon and all the wonderful photo ops it offers! Please join him at http://oregon-photography.blogspot.com/.
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