HDR photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Barnzee, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. Barnzee macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2010
    Oak Harbor, WA
    So I was wondering if anyone can explain the basics of HDR photography using a canon t2i. Is there a way to set the camera to automatically change the exposure level, or do I have to manually adjust after each shot? Also could you recommend what to set the exposure at if manual is my only option? Or is it more of a trial and error experiment type of thing.

    Once I have the images how do I combine them in aperture? I've seen hydra on the apple.com/downloads section. Is this my only option?
  2. ComputersaysNo macrumors 6502


    Apr 15, 2010
    What you can use is photomatix http://www.hdrsoft.com/

    But please don't go this route. Stay away from Bob Ross -like processing, and concentrate on shooting like a pro, instead of polishing turds.
  3. dcains macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2007
    Who's Bob Ross?

    Beside Photomatix, many other software packages will allow stacking layers of different exposure levels to produce HDR images, i.e. Photoshop CS5, Aperture3, Bibble5, etc.

    FWIW, HDR if not done at a very subtle level looks pretty bad in most cases, but to each his own, and if it's something you want to experiment with, then have at it.
  4. a.jfred macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Good lord, I'm old.

    Bob Ross was notorious for painting Happy Trees into his paintings ;)
  5. dcains macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2007
    I'm old, too. Now I remember him. White guy with the huge Afro, right?
  6. AxisOfBeagles macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2008
    East of Shangrila
    I'm going to play devil's advocate and suggest that dabbling in HDR can be a valid form of developing one's knowledge and skill in photography.

    HDR does not substitute for exposure, composition, or narrative. But dabbling with HDR can force a newer photographer into understanding exposure; learning to bracket manually or with +/- EV setting (ie, learn how to use their camera); and even open a newbie's mind to post-processing tools and techniques.

    As for the OP's original question; there are a number of tools you can use. When I play with HDR, I use photomatix pro - it gives me the most discreet control. But there are other stand alone tools as well as plug-ins for both Photoshop or Aperture. Personally I have found the best results when I shoot in RAW, bracket + / - 2 stops around my ideal exposure value, and then export those images into 16-bit TIFF format before importing them into Photomatix Pro for exposure blending. Just my process, you may find other approaches that work better for you.

    At the end of the day, a great subject, great composition, and great exposure control produce superior photographs. But at least a few times every year I see the opportunity to use HDR to produce something highly stylized. And invariably I learn something every time I play with it.
  7. gameface macrumors 6502

    Sep 11, 2010
    Boston, MA
    For your camera the auto exposure bracketing is in the menu. Click the menu button on the upper left of the body. Move to the second red icon. First thing is "Expo.Comp./AEB". Select that and set your bracket. Available is 1/3 stops up to 2 full in both directions. Use the wheel by your shutter release button to adjust. Now when you take 3 continuous pictures it will expose one as you have it set and one over/under. You can do this in single shooting mode or continuous. Be aware that when you shut your camera off, this setting gets turned off so you'll have to set this up every time you want to shoot 3 continuous pictures for an HDR.

    For even more dynamic range you can shoot 5 (2 under exposed and 2 over) and for that I wouldn't bother with the auto bracketing. I would set up and get your baseline exposure. Then hold the AV +/- button next to the screen. Rotate the wheel near your shutter release. You can under/overexpose in 1/3 stop increments right here too up to 2 full stops. Tripod is important because it is probably going to adjust your exposure by adjusting your shutter speed.

    I'm not going into details of post processing because that can be very selective and there are multiple softwares out there to help you get that job done. Less is more when it comes to HDR in my opinion.

    Good luck, and happy shootin.
  8. Barnzee thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2010
    Oak Harbor, WA
  9. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    One other thing to know when bracketing multiple exposures for HDR or layering... always use the same aperture setting for each shot, and vary the shutter speed for under, correct and over exposures. This way every shot will have the same depth of field... you can use aperture priority, or just meter in manual for the correct exposure, then change your shutter speed for each shot.

    Also, use a tripod and self-timer to set off the bracket sequence, if possible.

    Another thing to look out for is moving things in the shots, because even with a rapid series of shots (5 fps,) movement can shift objects noticeably, making the merged image look bad. Leaves in the breeze, water ripples, reflections. I tried so HDR shots of docked boats, and just the gentle rise and fall of the apparently very calm water made things like tie-up ropes have varying curves as tension on them was rising and falling.

    Maybe that's why I mostly stick to single, well-exposed images and shoot RAW for post.

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