HDR and Interiors

HDR has a lot of fans in the artistic realms of photography but some of the biggest advocates for the tool are those who photograph architecture and real estate. The benefits are quite obvious when you start taking photographs of subjects that have some pretty severe swings in dynamic range. I took some sample shots this past weekend in my hotel room in Virginia Beach. As you can see from the three photos below, I would have had a pretty tough time getting an exposure that could handle the interior of the room along with the great view outside the window.

HDR Trio

A normal metered exposure would have tried to balance everything and wouldn’t have succeeded at anything. By adding the 2-stop overexposure I was able to get some good details in the room and furniture.

HDR 2 under-3

The outside view was nicely handled by adding a third exposure that was 2 stops under the normal exposure. This made the interiors very dark but nicely exposed the scene outside the window.

HDR 2 under

With all three combined into an HDR exposure and then tonemapped, I was able to get the best from all three without spending a huge amount of time masking layers in Photoshop.

HDR final image

Of course this isn’t a fantastically staged shot but it does give you a clear understanding as to why this is such a valuable tool for anyone photographing interiors or architecture. It’s certainly worth keeping in your bag of tricks next time you have a tricky lighting shot to contend with.

For those of you who might be wondering, I captured the three images with my Sony Alpha-99, imported them into Lightroom 5, and then tonemapped in HDR Expose 3 software with some final tweaks back in Lightroom.


  1. What are you proving? These should be obvious tripod slow shutter shots and no challenge. The three “HDR” brackets you show have two chairs while the “voila!” shot is brighter than the brightest bracket and has 2.5 chairs. Goofball.

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