HDR Tutorial

date April 11, 2011 location Chicago, IL

Welcome to my HDR tutorial!

I plan to keep updating this tutorial, so please be sure to leave any advice or feedback in the comments section below. Let's get started...

I divided the tutorials into two videos, Part 1: Capturing the Brackets, and Part 2: Processing the Photo. There is really a lot that goes into both of these steps. I designed this tutorial for beginners and HDR experts alike, so feel free to skip any steps that you can't do (for example if you don't own a specific program that I am using, or your camera doesn't bracket in as many intervals), and you should also keep evolving your own workflow, don't change it completely based on what I provide here. This tutorial is the culmination of what I have learned over a couple of years making HDR images.

One thing that I left off is materials, these are very important, so here you go:

  • DSLR Camera: This is the most important. You can't do HDR without a camera, and I recommend a good one. The HDR process tends to bring out the details in the images that you will capture. Unfortunately, this means that if you don't use a good camera, the flaws in the images that you take will be exaggerated even more by the HDR process. It is also necessary to make sure that your camera does autobracketing. Autobracketing is the process by which your camera takes multiple pictures consecutively at various exposures. It is the process of combining these images that creates an HDR, so make sure your camera can do this. I shoot with a Nikon D700, most Nikon DSLRs are capable of autobracketing.
  • Tripod: A tripod is a necessary piece of hardware for shooting HDR. Since you will need to capture multiple images of the same subject, you need a tripod to keep your camera secure while your camera brackets away. I shoot with Induro CT-114 legs, and a Manfrotto 498RC2 head.
  • Software:
    • Adobe Lightroom 3: I use this software for manipulating my RAW photos and also storing my photo library.
    • Photomatix: This program is at the heart of my HDR processing. I use this program to combine all of the exposures that I take, and turn those images into a tonemapped, high dynamic range image.
    • Adobe Photoshop
    • Nik Color Efex 2.0: This is a series of photoshop plugins that I use in every HDR image that I produce. These filters are great for adding contrast, texture, and structure to HDR images.

Part 1: Capturing the Brackets

Part 2: Processing the Photo

And the final result...

My HDR TutorialView Exif Information

My HDR Tutorial