7 Tips for Stunning HDR Photography

I’ve found that HDR photography can better capture how the location actually felt rather than just a photo. Most photos without some editing can become quite bland even if the location you were at was fantastic. Here are some HDR photography tips so you can best capture the feeling of being in your shots. This post assumes you know the basics of HDR photos and is just a collection of intermediate tips I’ve learned. View my full HDR tutorial here.

Hallway at Union StationHDR Composition Tips

  1. Capture Something Worth Viewing – HDR editing techniques can only bring your photo so far. If you don’t find what you’re shooting interesting why would the person viewing your photos?
  2. Make sure there’s Lots of Light Ranges – Overcast days are usually good for photography, but when doing HDR the best use is in harsh shadows. Shadows and detailed textures really ‘pop’ when edited.

Camera Stability Tips

  1. Use a Tripod – This might be the most obvious tip, but for best results, use a sturdy tripod that is heavy duty enough for the gear you’re using.
  2. Use a Trigger or Self Timer – Using your finger to hit the shutter release button causes a slight vibration. To avoid this use the 2 second timer feature or an external trigger to completely reduce vibration from your touch.
  3. tripod-top-with-6dReduce Shutter Shake – When the shutter opens and closes it causes a very small vibration, but any tiny movement can affect your photo. Since you take multiple photos for an HDR this causes vibration in all of your photos. To avoid this Nikon has an option for exposure delay which will open the shutter and wait a second then actually capture the photo. While Canon doesn’t have this option you can use live view to snap your photo and it’ll keep the shutter up to reduce vibration (see your manual for more information on this).

Editing Tips

  1. Don’t Push HDR Extremes – Making photos that look like they are in plastic wrap doesn’t do any good for anyone, especially your viewer’s eyes. A good HDR photo is achieved from a subtle effect that improves the photo. I’ll go more in depth to photo editing techniques in a later post.
  2. Tinker with all the Options – Don’t expect to throw an image into a program and get the desired effect you want. Whether  you’re using Photomatix or Lightroom play with all of the options on your photo to get the exact effect you’d like. Some of the changes might surprise you.

Hopefully these tips improve your photos. If you’ve got a great HDR tip leave it in the comments!

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