HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The technique basically involves taking multiple, bracketed exposures, of the same scene and then processing them together to produce an image with more information or “Dynamic Range”. I often use this technique at weddings to capture wedding venues and churches in all their glory! Hallelujah! It is especially useful when there are nice clouds or dramatic lighting to enhance the effect.
I usually take three shots using the AUTO bracket feature on my camera. First shot is -2 stops, Second one is a normal Exposure, and the third one is +2 stops. Notice the first shot, everything is dark but the clouds and the blue sky come out great. The Normal shot looks OK, but there is not much color or detail in the shadows. In the third shot, the sky is blown out, but there is a lot of information in the shadows. So taking the best segments of each shot we can create an image that has the most information and detail possible.
I use a program called PhotoMatix to process all my HDR’s. It is a great program designed specifically for Tone Mapping HDR photos. After I get the final 16bit image out of PhotoMatix, I bring it back into LightRoom for the final edits. I add some clarity, contrast, saturation and sometimes tweak the colors a little. The final image should be vibrant, brilliant, and capture the essence of the location.
If you want to see more awesome HDR photos and Tutorials, check out my friend Trey Ratcliff over at Stuck In Customs