Category Archives: HDR Photography

Yuletide Nostalgia


It is time to shoot another round of HDR Christmas images. I like looking for scenes or window displays that have a nostalgic feel to them. The HDR illustrative look really lends itself to this type of image.

Basic steps for this look:

  1. Shoot for HDR – likely a five stop range for these – three in some cases.
  2. Adjust the white balance in the HDR image set using your RAW processing software before you start the HDR processing. Lightroom or ACR for example .
  3. Process for a grunge look with something like Photomatix. I tend to keep the light smoothing set mid to max, max strength, max microcontrast and max luminosity. Set the color slider to your taste (you can correct it  in step 5 as well).
  4. Save the image after adjusting tone settings.
  5. Reopen the saved image in Photomatix and process it with the sliders set as they were for step 3. Fine tune the color. Save again.
  6. With your standard post processing tool (Elements, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) correct the contrast (almost always required), add a vignette, burn/dodge, clean up the image if needed, etc.


I was fortunate to find these images in my town of Forest Grove. Check out antique shops in your area one night.

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HDR Side Effects


As I prepared for a talk this week on HDR photography, I started thinking about one of the issues I have personally dealt with when it comes to HDR photography. No not the “it’s not realistic” debate, but a side effect of shooting HDR – you can become photographically lazy. What do I mean by that?

You can allow it to effect you in many ways:

  1. You may not look as closely at the quality of  light in a scene. After all you can change the look of the lighting later in processing. You may not wait for the best light.
  2. You may not take the time to determine the best exposure. After all you can just shoot your set of HDR exposures and as long as you capture everything (per the histogram) you can deal with it later.
  3. You may take an image you should delete and try to process your way out of it. You know the images I am talking about.
  4. You can get hooked on the surrealistic HDR looks you can create (which are great fun) and forget the subtle enhancements you can do for that realistic look you wanted at the start (better highlights and shadows). This is not unlike the first time a photographer gets their hand on a saturation slider!

Am I saying not to shoot HDR? Of course not. But just beware and check yourself to make sure some of these side effects aren’t settling into your work. Try shooting non-HDR for a short time if you need to. Focus on honing your basic light observation skills and exposure skills again – they come back quickly.

Any of you know what I am talking about? What has been your experience with HDR?

Blog Image: This is a simple sample of using HDR to bring out very subtle detail in shadows and highlights but keeping it natural.

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