High dynamic range imaging (HDR) Photography Tutorial

HDR By Harsh alkutkar

HDR-By Harsh Alkutkar

What is HDR?

HDR Photography is a technique which allows a higher range of luminosity , contrast and tones with normal photographs. If used well it can bring out the parts of a photograph which are poorly lit or which have poor colour.

You do not need any “special” camera to capture this image just some software.

What do I need?

In this tutorial you will need:

1. A digital camera – any resolution above 5 MP should do with manual features which allow you to adjust the EV levels or exposure

2. A computer with certain HDR software. Im going to use the most widely used one – Its called Photomatix. Photoshop will also do but I wont cover that here. You can get photomatix at http://www.hdrsoft.com/download.html Note: The trial version has a watermark on the image.

3. Photoshop / Lightroom / Picasa3 or whatever you use for final touching up. Anything you can adjust the color levels/curves in

Okay I’m ready lets start!

1. Find something to shoot – Usually a nice scene like  a sunrise /clouds / rainforests where there is a lot of detail. Dawn or Dusk is the best time to capture vibrant sunrises.Im going to use one of my own here.

2.Set your camera to the Manual Exposure mode (At least for Sony It may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer)

PMode EV levels Sony Cybershot P-200

Now keep the camera extremely still. This is important because if any of your shots moves the HDR wont com out properly. Use a tripod , keep it on a wall , lean on a wall ,use two hands to hold it whatever but it HAS to be 100% still. Once you have set your zoom / white balance on the subject , Adjust the EV levels as shown or according to your camera. They should range from -2.0 to +2.0 with a stepping of 0.3. You have to get at least three shots for a good HDR. (Minimum two maximum as many as you want). Try one on +2 , -2 , 0 Or choose three values such that your subjects are not too over exposed or under exposed. Keep the spacing same if possible. Like +1,0,-1 or -0.3 , 0 ,+0.3

etc. Try and repeat this a few times because most of your photos wont come out right the first time. So shoot 3photosx2 copies. Try different settings for autofocus/zoom/white balance etc.

For example:

-2 EV

0 EV

+2 EV

Note: You can use these images itself for the tutorial. Just click on the three. Save the enlarged views one by one.

3.Download your photos onto the computer. Open up photomatix. Click on “Generate HDR” on the left. Drag the photos into the box. Click OK. Again choose the default settings and click OK again. It should sayAligning images…. generating HDR.. and poof you get this : -\

Photomatix Pro

No thats not what we want. Click on Tone Mapping. on the bottom leftPhotomatix Settings

Now the fun part. First Select the Natural Preset at the bottom. Any preset you like really. Then start adjusting the Strength, I pushed it up a bit, Luminosity , Colour Saturation, White clip and Black Clip till you get something like this.
You should not get a lot of noise and not too much colour either.Get the basic image right. Then click on Process at the bottom.

tone mapping...

After the tonemapped image shows up click on File->Save. Save it to some known location. You are basically done with your image. But if you want to bring out more colours etc. Import the tonemapped image into photoshop.


Adjust the levels – RGB , Red, Blue, Green by moving the sliders closer or adjusting the middle slider. You should start to see the colours kick in. Don’t overdo it . It should not have a visible “tint” of any colour.

Then add a black border like this. First use the Rectangle select tool. Drag a Box around the part you want to visible. Right click on the dotted part and select – “Select Inverse”. The border gets selected. Now wait. Add a new layer. Layer->Layer. Only then when the New layer is active and selected use the paint bucket – Fill to fill the border with black. You can also add a pattern overlay that makes it look like a photo frame through the Text FX at the bottom

Select inverse
Select Inverse Option
Add your name/watermark with a nice font and voila!
Hope you liked it!

About harshalkutkar

Im a 19 year old geek who loves figuring things out on on his own and discovering new things View all posts by harshalkutkar

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