Digital Media Design


Photography HDR Tutorial – My First Attempt at HDR

I thought I’d have a go at some HDR photography using my Canon EOS 60D DSLR. I already knew the basics of HDR which stands for ‘High Dynamic Range’ –  you need usually three photographs of the same subject, one at ‘Normal’ exposure, the second ‘Over Exposed’ and the third ‘Under Exposed’. Then you need some software to bring these images together to create your HDR image – for my purposes I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 which comes with the HDR plugin already installed.

Setting up the camera for HDR

Menu Settings AEB

AEB Settings +- 2 points

My Canon EOS 60D comes with an AV mode which allows you to set the Aperture and leaves the camera to decide on everything else such as shutter speed ISO etc. I wanted the maximum depth of field so I went for an exposure of f22. The next step is to go into the camera’s menu and select Exposure comp/AEB setting which sets the ‘Auto Exposure Bracketing’ this is what controls the exposure for the 3 photographs – I set mine for 2 stops which is 2 stops over exposed and 2 stops underexposed.

Now all I needed to do was to make some final settings for the camera, for example for the shots I was taking, I set for manual focus and I also turned off Image Stabilisation as I was using a tripod.

Taking the shot

Top LCD showing 3 exposure levels

You should really use a remote shutter release but I didn’t have one so I was careful not to move the camera when pushing the shutter button. I noticed that as I half pressed the shutter button the indicator on the top LCD of the camera showed which exposure setting it was going to take, central for normal exposure, high indicator for over exposed and low indicator for under exposed – this helped to keep track of where you were in the shot list, although you could just count up to three for each set of pictures taken.

I could have set the continuous high mode but left it on single shot for personal preferences but if you want to take your 3 exposures rapidly or you are using your camera handheld you should set to continuous high mode.

Photography HDR Tutorial – Photoshop

Back LCD also showing 3 exposure settings

The first job is to open all three images in Photoshop then select File-Automate-merge to HDR Pro or just go straight to automate and select the images from the browse option. You then get a dialogue box open to enable you to select the images one of which is ‘Add open files’ which I selected. The HDR panel then opens with the thumbnails of your photographs at the bottom of the screen and the combined image in the centre. You then have a choice of manually changing options such as Saturation, Vibrancy, Exposure, Gamma etc. but I used the presets to select an image that I liked.

Canon EOS 60D
used for all photographs

Click OK at the bottom of the window and the merged image is shown in the main window ready for further manipulation using the standard Photoshop tools, such as image size and save for web etc.

I like the effect of HDR so much that I’ve also investigated several other plugins and stand alone applications for creating the HDR effect. One App in particular caught my interest, ‘HDR Darkroom’ which can be currently downloaded from the Apple App Store at a bargain price. I’ve posted one example I made using this App below well worth the £11.99 it cost me to download from the Apple App Store – currently on offer – 75% off the normal price.

Here’s the result  – what do you think?

NB: The Quality of image is far greater on my MacBook Pro than can be reproduced here because of web restriction eg. 72 pixel resolution.

Home Office HDR - Using HDR Darkroom

Home Office HDR - Using HDR Darkroom

Cycle HDR Photograph

HDR Photo-realistic preset - Photoshop HDR Plugin

Honda Civic HDR Photograph

HDR Saturated Preset - Photoshop HDR Plugin

Honda Civic - Photo realistic HDR preset

Honda Civic - Photo realistic HDR preset - Photoshop Plugin



HDR Video – Researching HDR


I also found a very useful article on Macworld which goes into how to create a Time lapse HDR Video using a DSLR and stills bracketing. Bracketing is when the camera takes a picture and then automatically takes another over and under exposed. Using software these images are combined into one giving a true HDR effect.

Ian’s website:

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