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HDR Photography for beginners

Let me show you how to take photos and how to merge them into a HDR image using the Photomatrix software.

  Author: mat | Category: Photography | 31st October 2011 |  

You need a camera where you can manually change the shutter speed. Meaning, you need a DSLR or an advanced compact camera.

The point of HDR or High Dynamic Range is to take photos at different shutter speeds, so you have different lighting on all of them. You need to take at least three photos to cover the dark, middle and bright parts of the scene you're shooting, then merging it into one "perfectly" lit photo using some dedicated software.


You'll need a tripod keep your camera still, you're going to shoot exactly the same scene at least three times.


If you don't have a tripod, just make sure your camera stands firmly and doesn't move between the shots.


Set the camera to M (manual) or Tv (shutter priority).

I've set it to M and I've set the F (aperture) to 4.0.


First shot:

Set a very quick shutter speed so you'll get a dark picture.

I've set it to 1/4000 sec, it depends on the lighting conditions.

Take a picture.


Second shot:

Set a slightly slower shutter speed for a little brighter photo.

I've set it to 1/1000 sec, again it depends on the lighting conditions. Be careful and don't move the camera position.

Take a picture.


Third shot:

Set a slower shutter speed for more light.

I've set it to 1/250 sec.

Take a picture.


Fourth shot:

We already took 3 pictures which is basically enough to achieve a HDR effect, but let's make the fourth one so the program will have more information about our range which will hopefully lead to a better end result.

I've set the shutter speed to 1/90 sec.

Take a picture.


Now that you have your ready to be merged pictures, transfer them onto your computer.

I've named mine according to the brightness.


No we need a piece of software which will merge our shots into a HDR image. Photomatrix is a right choice to do the job.

Click here to open the Photomatrix download page.


Install it and start it.


Select the picture you took in the Windows Explorer then drag and drop them into the Photomatrix program (see picture).


When asked, select the Merge for HDR processing option and click OK.


Click OK.


Choose the same settings as I did.


Wait for it ...


When the process is finished you can choose between some presets, choose one ...


... and click Process.


The end result, HDR image is now created, all you need to do now is to save it.

Click File and choose Save As...


Non HDR image ...


... and the HDR image.

If you have any questions just click the Comments.

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