WARNING! HDR Photography can be an addictive style of photography and a lot of fun!
So let’s start at the beginning… You know that feeling when you’ve taken a photo only to be frustrated or disenchanted with the result? Well this is where HDR can step in and put that smile back on your face. It will make you proud and excited to share your photo’s with family and friends… and the world!
On this Page I will point you in the right direction to reach out and begin your own personal HDR journey.
Here’s an example of one of my own personal HDR Photo’s to illustrate how rich in colour, texture and light this style of photography is. You can move the slider back and forward to unveil the before and after HDR. Pretty Cool right??? 😎
What are the best programs to create HDR images? Well I have you covered because I have created a list of all the HDR software apps out there to create HDR tonemapped images. I have given them all a rating out of 5 stars and I go into each ones features. I also talk a bit about what I do and don’t like for each HDR program.
HOW TO MAKE HDR PHOTOGRAPHY
What’s great about HDR Photography is that anybody can do it! I’ve been making these types of images for over 6 years now and my tutorials have been well received all over the world.
I have written 2 FREE HDR tutorials, one for MAC and another for Windows, and shared them here on lukezeme.com. Just select which computer you wish to learn HDR on and you will be taken to the FREE Tutorial.
Want to have these educational materials offline? Well you can download either of these written tutorials of mine for free at these links:
They go through the whole process of what camera you need, the best HDR software, how to shoot HDR Brackets on your camera, the post-processing techniques of HDR called Tonemapping as well as suggesting some tools to take your HDR images to the next level.
WHAT CAMERA DO YOU NEED FOR HDR?
I’ve found over the years that creating HDR images is more about the HDR software you develop your photos with than the Camera used to take the photo’s. There are some camera’s that are better suited towards making HDR images compared to others though as some features are better than others. You can see the camera’s I use and recommend over on this page Best Cameras and it’s up to your budget which one you choose. If it’s very high you should go for the Best Camera! I am currently using 2 Sony mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7r and A5100 at the moment but the list of cameras I’ve used is extensive. For new photographers I suggest getting a mirrorless camera over a DSLR. Why? Mirrorless cameras have all the same features and Megapixels a DSLR have but are much smaller and lighter due to not having to house the bulky mirror system, hence the name mirrorless!
The techniques for how to take the HDR shots on your camera is all explained in the tutorial links above, so go download them and have a good read of the Section on How to take HDR Photographs.
WHAT IS HDR PHOTOGRAPHY?
The $64,000 Question- What is HDR Photography?
HDR is an acronym for High Dynamic Range… I will expand on this further below.
The very first HDR image was created back in the 1850’s by Gustave Le Gray who wanted to render seascapes showing both the sky and the sea. This fact kind of surprises people because they think of HDR photography as being no more than 10 years old as the techniques we use today is a digital process reliant on hardware and software.
Now that we know the age of HDR photography, let’s talk a bit about the science of it. The simple answer as to what is HDR involves us discussing the human body. Our human eye is the most amazing camera in the world that no technology has yet been able to match. It has the ability to function using nearly every aperture on a capture all at the same time! A traditional photograph can take in a set range of light at once and this is known as the luminance. HDR expands this range to include more luminance within a scene. This can result in a much closer comparison in luminance to what we see with our eyes. Which is actually the goal of an HDR image, to better describe what we see with our eyes than a standard photo.
In practice, to create this extended dynamic range or luminance we take multiple exposures with varying amounts light by adjusting the shutter speed in each photograph. The process starts by taking an evenly exposed photo, then we take an underexposed and finally an overexposed photo. Current cameras are good enough to rely on just 3 photos but we can even shoot 5, 7 or 9 frames. I go further into this topic inside my HDR Tutorials, but we call this a bracket of images. The next step combines these brackets using software.
You may have read that a HDR image can be created with a single image, this is mostly true… HDR software can tone map a single RAW file but the best HDR images are made from combining multiple exposures into the one image. You can also create a HDR images in Lightroom using presets. I created a lot of HDR presets for Lightroom and these are featured in my Premium Lightroom Preset Pack.
HDR images can be a completely evocative experience for people seeing them for the first time. They tend to jump out of the screen at you and also look great in print on paper, metal or canvas I’ve found.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HDR PHOTOGRAPHY?
Well you will need a tripod if you want to get into HDR Photography, but don’t worry! I’ve got you covered in this post on the Best Tripods where I point out the best tripods for very affordable prices all the way up to the best tripod I recommend.
Aside from the 2 main HDR software programs Aurora HDR 2017 and Photomatix PRO I also use a mix of plugin software to stylise my images after I tone map them in the HDR app. I have separated these programs out into to categories and listed them in one easy to read page in the link below! I also supplied everyone with any discounts the developers were able to pass along to my readers on lukezeme.com and most of them have trials so check them out. Some of my favourites on this list are Macphun Luminar, On1 Photo RAW and Topaz Adjust 5! But take a look at the link and see which ones are your favourites. You might also be interested in an app to remove the noise from your photo’s at the end of your workflow and for this I recommend Topaz DeNoise or Macphun Noiseless
EXAMPLE HDR PHOTOGRAPHS
These are some of the many HDR images I’ve created over the last 6 years… HDR Photography is a passion of mine, so scroll down and head to my Portfolio to see more HDR. I’d say 70% of my images there are HDR using the techniques described in my Tutorials, found in the Tutorials section above.
Thanks, if you made it this far you are well on your path along the wonderful world of HDR photography.