High Dynamic Range is a technique used by photographers to simulate the human eye’s ability to see a greater range between light and dark than a camera can. The best cameras today can capture 10 to 14 stops of light, while the human eye can do much better, at 20 stops.
The eye can see details in the shadows and highlights that cameras are not able to capture using a single exposure. That is why sometimes you look at your photo and think it was not the way you remember the scene to be.
By taking multiple bracketed exposures of the same scene and combining them either in-camera or post processing with LightRoom or PhotoShop, we can begin to make our photos more realistic.
Here are some important things to consider before deciding on using HDR. • Your subject must not be moving, otherwise your final photo will be blurred.
• Use a tripod and shutter release to stop camera shake. Just a tiny little camera movement will ruin it.
• Avoid a subject with bright colors. Landscapes and building make for better HDR images.
• Shoot in RAW at ISO 100. Remember, you are on a tripod, so get the exposure you need with a clean ISO.
• Experiment with the number of brackets, and the stops between exposures. Start with 3 exposures - 1 stop over and 1 stop under. Move up to brackets with 5 or even 7 exposures. Try varying the stops in your bracket to see what works best.
• Set your camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing. Make it easy on yourself and let the camera do the work
• Use Aperture Priority Mode to lock in the aperture, and let the camera vary the shutter to get your brackets. If you varied the aperture, your Depth of Field and focus could change.
• Use Auto Focus to lock in focus, then turn AF off. You don’t want the camera to change the focus point during the bracketed shots.
The photo above is an HDR image produced in LightRoom from a 5-step bracket. The exposure varied from 2 stops under to 2 steps over, -2, -1, 0, +2, +2.