Setting up Your Camera for Shooting HDR Images

I had a little spare time this weekend so I ventured off to the deep dark recesses of my backyard with my video camera in tow so I could shoot a little tutorial.  I have spent a lot of time talking about processing HDR images but I’ve never really touched on one of the most important factors and that is capturing the necessary images for making the HDRs.  So today I present a short video on how I set up my camera when I am preparing to make HDRs.  I used a D300 but the settings should work with whichever dSLR you choose to use.  Enjoy!  And please,  no comments on how high my grass is.  :-)

Here is the image that was created from the shots I took in the video.  The HDR file was created using Adobe Photoshop, the tonemapping was done with Photomatix Pro Ver. 3., and the image was then finished using ACR and Photoshop. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

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  • Harold Dunstan

    Great video. Is there a particular reason you create the HDR image in photoshop rather than Photomatix. Do you consider Photoshop to give a better HDR image or is for a faster workflow ?

  • Mike Palmer

    my goodness, did the lawn swallow up the children?

  • Gareth

    No worries … you should see our yard! I do have a question, though: how do you do that little pop up thingy for linked photos? Will it work with photos off-site?

  • Goh Keat Liang

    thanks Jeff, learn something from you again

  • jeff

    Harold – I prefer Photoshop for the HDR file creation. I can make adjustments to my files in ACR and then save the changes. I then select them from the bridge for conversion to HDR using Photoshop which incorporates my ACR changes to the files. I think I covered it in one of my previous tutorials.

    Mike – This is actually my back, back yard. I keep the children pinned up in the fenced in portion :-)

    Gareth – I use a WordPress plug-in called Lightbox which puts the image overtop of the current page. I host all of my images on my blog server so I can’t say for sure if it will work for images hosted elsewhere. You can find out more info about the plug-in here.

  • Mike Palmer

    came back to watch video – nice job jeff

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  • Steven Price

    Maybe a link back to the post on doing the processing, please. I’m new here and did not see the original showing. The search did not turn up anything that looked like the post referenced?

  • jeff

    Look at the links at the top of my blog page (right below the header picture) or just click here. There is a link to my other tutorials there. All of my HDR tutorials are in there so you can see the original posts as well as the videos.

  • Dikkie

    That’s a very interesting video, Jeff. I don’t have such a fancy auto bracketing function on my Canon Rebel XTi, so I use manual model. I take a reading of the scene in aperture priority for the 0EV shot and then switch to manual mode to shoot a sequence. The only pity is that I can’t adjust the shutter speed with my shutter release, so I have to touch the camera between two shots, but the alignement does a great job.

  • John Larson

    Question: I thought that you have to have the Function button depressed for it to enable whatever you have it set for (e.g., if I set it for Spot metering, it has to be depressed when I take the picture for Spot metering to be enabled). For HDR, you set it for Burst mode; however, the button was not being depressed when you took your 5 shots. So how was burst mode enabled? Why wouldn’t it work just as well to set the Function button plus dial to BKT in order to determine how many shots you want, and then set up everything else the way you have done it, shooting 5 shots in CL? (I can see the value of Burst mode if you are doing it hand held; because then you can depress the Function button.)

  • Steven Price

    Thanks. I should have looked around some more. Sometimes I forget reading is fundamental.

  • okinawa

    Cool video, thanks for sharing.

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  • David

    @Dickie: Maybe you don’t have such fancy bracketing mode, but you don’t have to do it manually either. Go to the main menu and find AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) function.

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  • Eric

    Thanks yo share Jeff, nice tutorial ;-))

  • hdr okinawa

    I haven’t run into video tutorials for hdr…yours is great!

  • Sandy

    Is it possible to take HDR images with a Nikon D40?
    If so how?

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    • jeff

      Hi Victoria,
      The camera used in the video was a Nikon D300.

  • Paul

    This is a great video and it is has really helped me get set-up for HDR work. One of the settings that you didn’t mention in the video is whether you shoot in JPG or RAW mode. Is one better than the other when it comes to the post processing? Your comments would be appreciated.


    • jeff

      Hi Paul, I’m glad you found the video to be useful. I shoot all of my HDR stuff in RAW so that I can get the most from the dynamic range of my images. Shooting in JPEG is very limiting in terms of exposure range whereas RAW has much more exposure information in the file.

  • Paul

    Jeff — thanks for your comments. One more question for you and it concerns Live View. When I rotate to Lv on the indicator, do I then push down on shutter button to activate the rear display? In testing yesterday (after watching your video) it seemed this approach worked and a similar depression of the shutter would turn it off. Or as you did, just rotate the mode dial off of Lv and back to Clow. Activation of Lv is not well explained in the manual.

  • video

    This is a really well done site, good job and I am glad that I came across it.

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