Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Photo Tip #22...Auto Exposure Bracketing & HDR

Many of you have asked me to post some tips for HDR photography. That is the kind of landscape photography I normally do. It's how I get my photos to look like paintings. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range photography. The basic idea is that you take 3 shots at different exposures and combine them into one image. I'll explain that process in future photo tips. For now, you'll need to get familiar with a couple of features on your camera.

The first feature is Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB). You can find this setting in your camera's menu. This feature usually works by controlling 3 consecutive shots at different exposures. Some Nikon cameras allow you to control 5 consecutive shots at different exposures. My Canon cameras only control 3 shots at a time.

When you choose the AEB setting, you will be able to control your exposures in 1/3 f-stop increments. For our purposes, let's choose a -1, 0, +1 setting. The first photo you take will be a -1 exposed shot, the second photo you take will be a normal exposed shot, and the third photo you take will be a +1 exposed shot. This sequence will keep repeating every three shots.

To automate this feature, set you camera to the high speed burst mode instead of the single shot mode. In addition to the high speed burst mode, set your camera to the automatic timer mode. My camera has a 2 second timer and a 10 second timer. Most of the time I use the 2 second timer.

The combination of choosing AEB, burst mode, and auto timer mode is the basic set up for taking HDR photography. HDR photography also requires you to shoot in the RAW mode of your camera, not JPEG. You will also need some HDR software to combine your images, but we'll talk about that in a future photo tip. For my HDR shots, I use the AEB setting of -2, 0, +2 to give more dramatic looks in my final HDR image.

I typically don't use the AEB setting for anything but HDR since I can control exposure very well in Adobe Lightroom with my RAW images. When preparing for HDR images, AEB is a must!

I'll give you a little time to practice this before we start learning HDR photography. Have fun practicing!

No comments: