The Beauty of HDRI's
A particular art that is essential to photographers is the ability to do an HDRI.
Essentially an HDR, or High Dynamic Range’ Image is the blending of the same pictures at 3 different Exposure Values (EV’s) Some camera’s, like my G15, and other DSLR’s, offer an in-camera HDR setting which means you can adjust the EV to +1/-1 or +2/-2 etc. Depending on how your camera works.
The reason I hear you ask? The reason is to get a perfect balance between light and dark that is harder to do in one shot with one Exposure.
So how does it work? Well I shall tell you. You do have to make sure you are on a certain mode. I would suggest Fully Manual but you can use ‘P’ or ‘Tv’ aswell.
Now, like on the 7D you have the ability to set the camera to the EV you want, and it will burst 3 pictures. So let’s say you set it to -3/+3.
You camera will take an under-exposed picture (-3) It will take a perfect exposure (0) and it will take an over-exposed image (+3) – Bam! You set your camera to burst and fire off the 3 pictures. However some camera’s won’t be so easily done – in which you will have to manually adjust the Shutter Speed or, if available, the on-camera ‘EV’ setting.
Another extremely important thing to remember is that you will be blending these 3 shots so the pictures have to be the framing and have very minimal movement. A tripod is essential to make sure the movement is eradicated.
So, I went out, framed up a shot and took my 3 exposures:
*Please ignore photo quality (they've had to be scaled up from old website design)
Here we are, my 3 Exposures. Now what HDRI’s are perfect for are these shots because we have light coloured grass/leaves, we have the darkness of the old house and through the creepy windows (it’s about 20min cycle from my house…it’s creepy alright) So we want all of that but we want to keep the richness in the sky from our Under-Exposed image.
So, here is where a little bit of editing comes in, open up Photoshop and go to ‘File>Automate>Merge to HDR Pro’ I believe this is only available in CS5 and up, but don’t fret, I will put up a video at a later date to show how to do it without that, but for now, we are going to use Photoshop’s HDR Pro.
In the little box that opens, we put our 3 photos in and click ‘ok’ and that’s that. It will blend the pictures for you and then will open up a window where you can make adjustments and click through the different Presets. Once you are happy you can click ‘ok’ and it will open it back up in Photoshop and you can make all your necessary colour adjustments. Here is my completed HDRI:
Boom! It’s got all that punch in the sky, it’s got great lighting in the leaves and a great even exposure over the house. It’s still very creepy and I tried to keep alot of the blacks black to maintain that eeriness and I really hit in the blue in the turbulent sky. A little extra PRO tip is if look carefully at the 3 pictures I originally took, there is movement in the tree and plants, to rid the ‘ghosts’ that appear in blending, in the HDR Pro window check the little box next to ‘Remove Ghosts’ and this will deal with most Ghosting problems…probably didn’t do much to remove the ghosts in the house though!
So, I hope you found this somewhat helpful. HDRI’s are a great tool to have in your skillset and just give that extra punch to your landscape photographs.