HDR Photography Blog

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Photography Wisdom Rules

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As #1 is always Google the location you are going to shoot so you can know what is already out there so you can do better, or if there aren’t any scout your location take same phone photos geo tag them so later you know exactly where you have been.
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If you travel and you don’t know what to shoot while let’s say you are in Italy download Trey Radcliff’s “stuck on earth” app for your phone it shows all the cool locations and photos already taken, also there is another old fashioned method and that is to drop in a local gift store or any store that sells postcards and see what locations are famous for photographing or at least worth visiting and make your plans from there.

 

 

 

Make a check list of all your gear and memory cards I can’t tell you how many times I have run out in spur of the moment to catch that nice sunset with drained batteries or the memory cards forgotten in the card reader it’s a silly mistake but it happens ,after many years shooting it happens to me still, sometimes but I learned from my mistakes and I got spare memory cards in my car along with a spare tripod in the trunk that I carry everywhere 😀 so plan ahead it will be worth it.

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Stable tripod – happy post processing camper 😀 Keep your tripod stable at all times if there is wind attach your backpack to your tripod or get a rock if you can find one put it in the backpack and secure the tripod and also important is the camera strap either hold it in your hand or get rid of it it’s like a sail and will catch wind like crazy.

Turn all the levers tight when you get your composition to lock them down good because sometimes you will just tighten them and when you set up your camera settings it will move slightly during the bracketed shots and make you post processing chaos and blurry photos afterwards.

Use mirror lock up mode for no vibrations along with the viewfinder door on Nikon but I think there is the same system on Canon not really sure so light doesn’t spill in the sensor during long shutter speeds through the viewfinder. 

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If you shoot near a sea or a lake check tide times, when I was shooting one morning in Egypt there was no water for a mile I got on a rock setup my tripod and just as I shot 1 frame the tide came and I was stranded but later packed my gear and walked through the water wasn’t that deep so keep in mind tides change quickly and might ruin your gear if you are not careful.

Very important always bring a friend with you to keep you company and on night shoots and hikes for security reasons, it’s never fun to sit alone in the dark shooting stars for hours.

 

 

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And the final tip this is I think the most important one leave early give yourself at least 30 minutes to set up and find a composition at the location where you will be shooting, I have left my home a lot of times thinking what a great sunset I will get in my car and I will catch it no problem only to realize how fast it is going down and after I arrive its over and I get home with no shots – remember the early bird gets the worm and the more time you invest in a photo the better the photo will be trust me.

The Right Time for HDR

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As you know HDR is for situations where just the camera can’t capture detail in the sky and in the foreground so you need to bracket, but there are times when you can do it with just one shot.

  • The right time for you to do hdr would be a great landscape scene with a lot of dynamic range.You can do a simple test what I like to call the hdr or not shot just zero out the meter as your camera tells you and check the results on the lcd you will either see a overexposed sky or good sky but underexposed foreground and that’s when you make judgment call to do hdr or not.

A lot of the old photographers like the idea of blown highlights but I certainly don’t so when I see a overexposed sky or underexposed foreground I do hdr because it’s a great tool for getting a photo that translates what you actually saw when you were up on that mountain peak or lake just as the human eye sees it (just don’t overdo it and make it Chernobyl HDR)

  • A low light scene perhaps a cityscape photo at night or during the blue hour where you will have a blown highlights problem same here do a test shot and see how it does in your situation, because every scene is different and there is no sure way guide to make perfect hdrs just examples and tips and hdr wisdom that will guide you to make a decision. 
  • Straight into the sun shooting I use at least 9 brackets sometimes more because it’s a extreme dynamic range scene so watch your histogram closely and also I can’t even tell you how many images were ruined by lens flare although I use nano crystal coated lenses from Nikon they are not lens flare proof it’s lens flare resistant so get a good angle or move it around till the flare disappears. 
  • Sunsets or sunrises hdr is a must the setting sky is at least 10 stops apart from the foreground if not more a lot of the time is more .Same here do 9 brackets but as I said before watch the histogram and see if you need more or less or some shot that happens right on the spot like birds that maybe you can blend in later in post to make your photo more interesting. 
  • Indoor shots that may or may not include windows that look out into the sun or sunset or city lights that will need hdr so the inside of the room and the outside can be seen at the same time or couple of studio lights which are expensive and heavy to transport so forget them and do hdr .There is this photographer Mike Kelley from F-stoppers.com that uses HDR along with one flashgun inside a small soft box on a mono pod that he uses for his amazing commercial estate photography in which he uses a camranger to trigger his camera with an iPhone or iPad along with pocketwizzards for the flashgun and he can see the image on the iPad immediately after and make changes after the shoot he composites a lot of photos and makes a final HDR crazy isn’t it. 
  • Cars (that aren’t moving of course) there are lot of techniques for this one of my favorite hdr car photographer is Frederic Schlosser from Germany https://www.facebook.com/fredericschlosserphotography, he also uses 1 or 2 studio flashes in a softbox along with bracketed shots to do the final images, there is even one famous photographer from my country Dejan Sokolovski same technique https://www.facebook.com/dejanphotography

When not to use HDR

  • On people because they constantly move even if they are holding still so the post processing will be a nightmare. Also the colors of the skin will either be alien like so will be hard to make something good out of them. 
  • Moving subjects animals, cars pretty much anything that is moving unless you are doing car trails then you can bracket a special shot for car trails and then blend it in. 
  • Flat scenes like a cloudy day that you can capture with one image or mid-day sun no matter how good your composition is the photo will look just bland because the light is not right I rarely shoot during mid-day, same goes for clouds they just come up looking greety and full with noise sometimes they come up dark and unreal so if it’s an overcast day maybe do some waterfall shots or something that includes water and get your composition not to include the sky.

After some experience with hdr you will start to pick what scene is good or not for hdr without even thinking about it just like driving and making decision to change gears, hope this helps you guys on the hdr journey and make you a better hdr photographer altogether cheers.