Creating HDR Photography

HDR Photography stands for High Dynamic Range. This is a special type of photograph which contains much more detail than normal. Most photos have a short range which is displayed. HDR photos will normally capture exactly what you can see with your eye.

HDR Photography makes it possible to capture light and dark objects at the same time. Taking a single shot will result in problems with brightness.

Source Images

To use HDR Photos, you need to take three photos using your camera. The different photos need to be set at different exposures. One photo needs to be normal exposure, one -2 and one +2.

It's also possible to capture a single RAW file and create a HDR photo from this. A RAW image file contains much more detail.

Using Auto Exposure Bracketing

Most modern digital cameras feature auto exposure bracketing. This makes it very easy to capture the different photos. The exposure will automatically change.

When capturing the photos, it's important not to move the camera. You will need to leave your camera in one place to take the photos. The easiest method of doing this will be to put your camera on the tripod. If you don't have AEB on your camera, then you will need to manually adjust the exposure and take a new photo each time.

Choosing Software

It's possible to create HDR photographs with a variety of different software tools. Photoshop supports HDR photography through many plugins.

While the Gimp is capable of producing HDR images, this is only 8 bit software which will create some problems. Instead, CinePaint is 32 bit and based on Gimp. This makes it possible to create HDR Images.

Third Party Software

While many photo editing packages are capable of HDR imaging. It's actually easier to use third party software. This software is designed specifically to create HDR images rather than doing anything else.

There are around 20 different packages out there. Some of these are free. The best is PhotoMatix Pro, which costs $100. The Photomatix application is available for free as a trial. There is no time limit, but the created images will have a small watermark on them.

There are also plenty of other tools which are free including Qtpfsgui. This is an open source application which produces similar results to Photomatix. This is slightly more difficult to use but still easier than Photoshop.


Photomatix is a very simple application which creates fantastic results. Photomatix also supports RAW files which works very well. With the application running, simply click on Generate HDR Images. Then select the three images that you want to use.

This software will then try and analyze the different photos and decide which one is which. You can alter the different photos if required. When you click on the generate button, your HDR photo will be created automatically.

Tone Mapping

When you have finished with HDR photography, you will then need to use tone mapping. This can change the colors in your photo. Tone mapping can be used to make your photos look more realistic or artificial. Play around with the settings.