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How to Capture HDR Nature Photos

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 4/17/2011

HDR nature photos are stunning, but how do you capture these images? You'll actually be surprised how easy it is to do. Learn more in this digital photography tutorial.

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    Capturing HDR Images

    HDR or high dynamic range photography involves capturing images at the extremes of light and dark. Generally, this involves combining multiple images taken at different exposures. This creates dynamic and interesting photographs. Now you are probably wondering how you capture HDR nature photos.

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    Equipment

    First you need the proper equipment. You cannot take these photographs on the automatic settings. You need a camera that has manual exposure settings. Since you want to take the photographs at the exact same angle, set up a tripod. This allows you to leave the camera at the exact same angle and position throughout the shoot. You just need to adjust the exposure settings for each shot.

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    Have a Focal Point

    HDR Photo Example Always have a definitive foreground or background image. This makes for a more dramatic HDR photograph than an image with no clear focal point. For example, photographs of animals, trees or skies make for very dramatic HDR images.

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    Exposure Bracketing

    HDR photography involves a technique known as exposure bracketing. Your camera has an exposure meter that allows you to adjust how much light enters your camera. If you set your exposure meter to a high value, your image is almost over-exposed. If you set it to an extremely low setting, then your image is nearly black.

    With HDR photography, you are going to use a bunch of different exposure bracketing settings if you want to merge a bunch of photographs. If you are new to this technique, just start with the two extremes and a middle setting. It is easier to merge these three images in your photo editing software program.

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    Taking Your HDR Photos

    To starting making a HDR image, setup your tripod, and follow the below steps:

    1. Change your exposure meter setting to the darkest possible setting, and take a picture.

    2. Without changing the position of your camera, move the exposure meter up to a middle setting, and take another picture.

    3. Increase the exposure meter to the brightest setting, and then take your final photograph.

    Once you are done, you must open up your images into a photo editing program. You can use any program, but the program must allow you to add photos to different layers like Adobe Photoshop does.

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    Merging the Images

    Import your images, and place them in three different layers. Generally, you should place the darkest image on the bottom and the lightest image on the top just as you took your images. You may want to experiment with this placement depending on your preferences.

    Merge the layers, and experiment with the opacity and curves depending on your preferences. You should not have to do more than tweak these two settings. The image is going to look almost surreal, and that is the point. Once you learn the technique, you can experiment with different exposure meter settings and additional images.

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    References

    Better-digital-photo-tips.com, http://www.better-digital-photo-tips.com/nature-pictures-HDR.html

    Designzzz, http://www.designzzz.com/introduction-to-high-dynamic-range-photography-2/

    Hoon_, http://www.flickr.com/photos/gosk/2764655614/sizes/m/in/photostream/