exploring something new…HDR for beginners!

hi friends!

I thought I would talk about something completely different this week!  This week, I took my first steps into the world of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos.  Let me show you the end result and then talk about how I got there:

1303NatureThis was taken at the Lichterman Nature Center here in Memphis.  It was a rainy day, and I used my most “waterproof” lens, the Canon 70-200mm  f/2.8 L  IS, and a tripod.  Let me tell ya, if you want breathtaking landscape photos, with or without HDR, you have to invest in a tripod!  And if you’re going to shoot in the rain, invest in a very inexpensive plastic “rain sleeve” which keeps your equipment protected!

Anyway, back to our story.  To use HDR software, you really need to take 3 photos of the same, exact thing at different exposures.  You want one that is underexposed (too dark, not enough light) like this one:

1303Nature-2one that is overexposed (too much light) like this one:

1303Nature-4and one that is properly exposed, like this one:  (not too much light, or too little)

1303Nature-3Now, that last one isn’t too bad!  But I’ve lost some details in the shadows, and some details in the very light areas!

Let’s compare the first and the last one once again:

1303Nature

1303Nature-3Now, I have to say right now, that usually  you DON’T want any fast moving objects in your HDR photo!  This means that typically animals and people are not going to give you very good results.  I was taking a big chance on the geese in the picture.  They seemed to be moving VERY slowly, if at all!  Now, look for the AEB setting on your DSLR.  AEB stands for Automatic Exposure Bracketing.  You want to set that to take your 3 shots about 2 stops apart.  Don’t worry if I just lost you…I’ll give you some online references in a second.  Now, set your camera drive from taking a single shot to taking “continuous” shots.  When you click the shutter button, your camera will now take 3 photos very rapidly, with those 3 exposures.  (underexposed, exposed, overexposed)

I purchased the “essentials” package for HDR from http://www.hdrsoft.com which has some additional examples for you to look at.  The “essentials” package was $39 and you download your 3 photos (underexposed, exposed, overexposed) into the software, and it merges or combines the 3 to pick up the details in the shadows, and the details in the light areas!  I was completely amazed at how the final image appeared!  It was almost like taking a step into 3 dimensional  photography!

Okay, I know I lost some of you that are new to DSLRs, but here are a couple of my favorite websites if you need help understanding your camera settings, or with “photography speak” in general:

http://www.freephotocourse.com    (look at February 2013 contributor gallery for wallybird photography’s featured photo!!!)

http://www.digital-photography-school.com

Have a wonderful week!

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