You might have heard of it before: HDR content. The abbreviation stands for “High Dynamic Range” and can be found on several modern televisions and smartphones. HDR is basically all the shades between the darkest and lightest tones in a photo or video. But how do you take your own HDR photos? In this blog we give you a step by step explanation to take your photos to the next level!
What do you need?
Smartphone / DSLR / Mirrorless
A misconception about HDR photography is that you need an expensive camera to get the desired effect. But nothing could be further from the truth, most smartphones nowadays also have an HDR function and you can also take HDR photos manually on older phones. For an optimal result, the use of a DLSR or mirrorless camera is recommended.
To shoot in HDR you have a setting in the camera app on most modern smartphones, this mode is called “Auto HDR” and is on by default. Auto HDR ensures that the camera automatically takes 3 photos very quickly, which are combined together into an HDR photo.
A tripod comes in handy in the process of taking HDR photos. By means of a sturdy tripod, your mobile or camera stays in place and you don’t have to worry about unwanted movement in your photo. Wondering which tripod is most suitable for you? Read our 4 tips when choosing a tripod.
MOJOGEAR DS1 Extendable Stand with Table Clamp and Phone Holder€29.95Delivered tomorrow
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To edit the photos in the best way, you need an editing program. We recommend Snapseed, Vivid HDR, Lightroom or Lightroom Classic, these programs give you the necessary tools to really bring your HDR photos to life. You can download a 7 day trial version here.
Step 1: Camera settings
When you have found a place and subject to photograph, you can start. Place your tripod on a solid surface and check that it cannot fall over. For HDR photography you need about seven photos with different camera settings.
Set your camera or smartphone to a low ISO value. With a smartphone, this can often be done by switching the mode to “pro mode” and then you can adjust the ISO value. On a DSLR this can be done in the menu. Take your photos on your DSLR in RAW format so that you have the most freedom in post-processing afterwards.
Step 2: Photography
We will work from dark to light. Take a photo in which your subject can only just be seen, for example by starting the shutter speed from 1/400th.
Then we will make the photos lighter and lighter in small steps and we will take a photo with each step. Shoot until your subject is almost impossible to see thanks to the brightness of the photo. You should now have 5 to 7 photos that vary from very dark to overexposed.
Step 3: Editing
The last step is to import and edit your photos. For this example, we’ll use Lightroom Classic. Make sure the photos are in a separate folder on your computer and open Lightroom Classic. Drag your photos into the program and click “Develop” or “Edit”.
Select all photos and click Photo > Photo Merge > HDR.
Make sure the “Auto-Align” box is checked and “Auto Settings” is unchecked, then click merge.
Your HDR photo will appear at the bottom, if you click on it you can edit the photo the way you like it. For example, try playing with different shadow and highlight values or let the colors splash off your screen by means of the saturation slider! When you’re done, right-click to export the photo and voila: your own HDR photo is ready!
View the original photo below and the difference with the edited HDR photo.
Hopefully, with the help of the tips in this article, you can create your own beautiful High Dynamic Range photo. Don’t forget to share this photo on social media with the hashtag #mojogearhdr, we’d love to see what you made!