HDR or not?

A few days ago I tried my hands at shooting HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the first time. In essence what this means is that you try to compensate for the fact that with a camera you have to choose if you want detail in the shadows or in the highlights (such as clouds). How it works is that you set your camera up on a tripod, take an ordinary photo, then adjust the camera to make a darker exposure and then another adjustment to make a lighter exposure (and optionally two more photos even darker and lighter). It’s important you only adjust how long your exposure is, and that nothing else changes, such as focus or aperture (depth of field).

When you’ve shot the photos you end up with three photos of exactly the same scene (one normal, one dark and one light). The dark photo contains much more information in the lightest parts (such as clouds and bright objects like the sun or bright reflections in windows etc.), and the light photo contains much more information in the shadows and very dark saturated parts of the photo.

The magic happens when you combine the information from these three photos into a single image. Depending on which software you use you end up with a picture which usually has stronger, more saturated colours (sometimes a bit too much in my opinion).

In the example shown here you can see one normal exposure, and then the HDR-photo. For me personally HDR isn’t really so appealing yet, since I prefer shooting hand-held, which is out of the question when shooting HDR (you couldn’t manage to hold the camera still for making all three photos without any shake or movement), and I feel I can get almost the same effects from my ordinary photos using the adjustments and settings in Lightroom. There’s probably also something in me which prefers the way that non-HDR photos look and feel…

So, I’m not switching my photography to all HDR yet, mostly because I don’t usually bring a tripod, and I prefer shooting people and things which move, but, I’ll probably make more attempts at HDR in the future, in those situations where I shoot landscapes and plan ahead about what and how I will shoot…