Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Raindrops and Fern - HDR

Raindrops on Fern

1/4, 1/15, & 1 sec at f/16, focal length: 75mm, ISO 400 - November 1, 2008, 4:22pm PDT
Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 70-200mm f/4L, tripod mounted

The above image is an HDR from three RAW files that were assembled and tonemapped in Photomatix. Below are some tips for in the field to help ensure a successful "merge". Ideally, your camera will allow you to control the settings mentioned below. If not, there may be some work arounds but it may be a bit trickier in post-production.

1. Set your camera on a tripod
2. Photograph RAW (more information = better/cleaner merges)
3. Use a cable release (if you don't touch the camera between exposures, then there is less opportunity for the camera to move between exposures)
4. Use Aperture priority (for consistent depth of field with each exposure)
5. Turn on Auto Bracketing (if you can bracket more than three shots, try 1stop increments. If only allowed three bracketed exposures, like my camera, try 2stop increments.)
6. Turn off mirror lock-up and turn on your motordrive. (This will help with keeping your images registered and make for a cleaner/faster merge in post-production)
7. If you use auto focus, then focus for your first image. Then turn auto focus off and shoot your bracketed series of images. (Turning off auto focus will prevent the camera from re-focusing between exposures, preventing a series of images that have different focus points)
8. Take "empty" frames before and after each series of brackets. (Place your hand in front of your lens and take a picture before and after each set. When you're reviewing your images and getting ready to assemble your new masterpiece, this will help identify which images are from the same series.)

Hope these tips help and feel free to leave links to your HDR images in the comments below (or any images really).


  1. i know people have their different opinions on hdr, but, i like. good job friendo.

  2. John, thanks for the excellent tips. The fern photo is a really excellent HDR.

    Below are links to a couple of my recent HDR experiments, using Photomatix Pro. The Japanese Maple image has some obvious softness, as I shot the 5 frame burst on a monopod. Constrasted with the excellent sharpness of your fern, it validates your tips 1 and 3.

  3. John, is it a true HDR or is it an exposure blend?

  4. Bob, I'm glad you liked the tips. Nice examples of HDR.

    Juan, the image was tonemapped from an HDR, not an exposure blend. I've not really worked with exposure blending yet, but do intend to. What are your thoughts on the differences?