HDR photography is being used more frequently by realtors and architectural photographers. With todays competitive market place, standing out visually may be your first and best lead to getting a call from a potential client. And it may not be all that difficult to do yourself with a great little program-Photomatix.
* www.hdrsoft.com offers a full free trial version of Photomatix for download and a 15% discount can be had by using the promo code “flyingpanther”.
This tutorial will help explain:
1) HDR- Explain HDR photography and its benefits.
2) How to take photos for HDR? Demonstrate the techniques necessary when capturing images in preparation for creating your HDR image.
3) How to use the Photomatix software? Guide you through a simple process using Photomatix (High Dynamic Range Software)
4) How to get the best possible photos? Take your HDR image one step further with some simple photoshop tips.
What is HDR photography? HDR or High Dynamic Range is a process that allows a wider light range to be compressed into a single image. Where a digital camera can capture about 6-8 stops of light information in a single exposure, the human eye can see the equivalent of about 12 stops. Think of “stops” as the scale or a measure of the exposure range of available light. Many digital images are missing valuable detail in the highlights and shadows. For example, this interior shot which was exposed properly for interior detail has over exposed highlights coming in through the windows (Ex.2). This is because the light outside is much brighter than that inside and the cameras sensor can not capture all of this available light. So how do we capture the detail through the windows as we remember seeing when we were there? A HDR image will start off as several images, varying exposure in each, for detail in the highlights, mid tones and shadows, thus widening the total light range then ultimately, these images will be compressed back into a single image. Sounds simple enough, but how do we go about doing this?
How to take photos for HDR?
Things you will need
1) Digital camera with the ability to auto bracket or adjust exposure manually, 2) Tripod, 3) Photomatix software (full or free trial version)
Taking the photos
To get all of this detail we need to take several shots at different exposures to capture the low, mid and high end of the light range. This can be achieved with as few as three different exposures. See the example taken outside of three different exposures taken with the cameras auto bracket function at -2, 0, +2.
This can be done manually by adjusting the cameras exposure or using the cameras auto bracket function. The latter is preferred. It is important to use a tripod when taking these shots because they will be alligned later and need to line up accurately. If the exposures will be short, (ie. taken in bright light, outdoors, daylight) you may be able to get away with hand holding the camera (Photomatix software has a powerful alignment tool). But make sure the camera remains as still as possible during the three shots. A good practice is to brace yourself and the camera against a post or tree.