Choosing the Right Gear
Set Up with Quick Column Collapsed
Set Up with Added Weight
Set Up with Collapsed Bottom Legs For Maximum Stability
Now we know when to shoot HDR so let's frame a shot. Setup your tripod like you normally would – if you have a center column it is best not to extend it so as to increase stability. If you have a hook you will want to hang your camera bag or other weights – always a good practice for weighing down your tripod. If you have a 4 – leg section tripod you may also want to refrain from running out your bottom section – again maximizing stability.
You will want to shoot either on Manual or Aperture Priority. If you are new to HDR Aperture Priority will be the most user friendly. The aperture (f-stop) you choose will depend upon the scene. If you want great detail and a deep depth of field (ideal for HDR in most lighting situations, especially landscapes) f16-f22 are perfect (also ideal for giving your sun or lights a great "starburst"
effect). For a shallow depth of field and to make your bokeh really pop, open your aperture (i.e. I like to blow out my backgrounds/foregrounds with my 16-35mm lens at f4; on my 50mm at f1.8).
Next set your camera for autobracketing – found in different menus in nearly every camera body – and consult your owner's manual or check online discussions for the best setting for your particular camera body. You will want your ISO as low as possible to make sure graininess or "noise" won't become too much a factor – noise reduction will be mentioned later. ISO 100 or 200 should be sufficient. White Balance is huge, just as in all forms of photography and choosing the correct white balance will be crucial in achieving your best possible HDR image. Many products exist for getting precise White Balance measurements and a couple that really stick out are ColorRight
and X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
. Finally bring out your off camera shutter release and fire away! Best practice includes doing multiple bracketing series at different apertures to ensure you get the brackets you want. You want to stay within your histogram for all your exposures – in most instances 3 bracketed exposures will be enough to fill the histogram and cover the dynamic range of your subject – but the more you do the more you have to choose from in post.