Get The Shot Studios - Photography by Mark Whitehead



High Dynamic Range - Long Exposure Landscape Photography.

HDR - High Dynamic Range Landscape Photography with the Pentax 645D HDR - High Dynamic Range Landscape Photography with the Pentax 645D

First things first, be sure that you are shooting in Camera RAW. We want our camera to capture the maximum amount of detail and colour information, we also want to maximize our processing capabilities once we have taken our images.

An HDR (High Dynamic Range) image is a series of 3 or more photographs captured with different exposures. The exposures can vary from 1 stop increments or more depending on your preference. This technique allows you to capture all of the details in the shadows, mid tones and highlights. These images are then combined to create one final composite image. The end result is an image with a high dynamic range of colour and detail. To perform this technique you will need a DSLR and a Tripod.

Once you have your shot composed, we can now start to think about our camera settings and what kind of shot we want to capture. Questions I often ask myself, what F-stop do I need to be at? Am I looking for a shallow depth of field or does everything need to be tac sharp? Do I want to create motion blur in the water or should I capture the detail? and so on..

With the two shots I have used in this example, both of these images were long exposure HDR images. Personally, I prefer to adjust my shutter speed only when shooting HDR images, I want all of my other settings to stay consistent. In both of these shots my aperture was F22.0, I was also using a variable ND filter to achieve such a long exposure. My ISO is always as low as possible to maximize image detail, in this case ISO 200.

Now that I have my aperture and ISO I can start to work out my shutter speed. I wanted to blur the water as much as possible in these images so I started with a 30sec shutter speed. I then increase or decrease that setting to capture my images in sequence. With HDR images I find a 1 stop increment is best, sometimes more, it really depends what the subject is. We need at least 3 photos for this to work, 1 image that is under exposed by 1 stop, 1 image that is evenly exposed, and 1 image that is over exposed by 1 stop. This will allow us to capture all of the details in our shadows and highlights and combine them into one great image.

Personally when I shoot HDR sequences, I always over shoot. I would rather spend a few extra minutes giving myself more options in post. This means I will shoot one set of images with 1 stop exposure increments. I will then increase that to 2 stop increments and then 3 stop increments. This is somewhat overkill but I often find myself in places that are not very easy to get to.

Once we have our sequence of images, we now need to combing these images. Adobe Photoshop will do this for you (File > Automate > Merge to HDR) I use Photomatix Pro for my HDR images, I find it gives me more control over the final composite.

ISO = 200
Aperture = F22.0
Shutter = 30 SEC
Variable ND Filter
Images captured with a 1 stop exposure increment