HDR Doesn’t Have to Look Overprocessed

By Matthew Bamberg / Jun 14, 2013

Learning to shoot three or more images of different exposures and combining them using software such as Photoshop CS 5/6 HDR Pro (part of Photoshop CS 5) or Photomatix is not all that difficult. In my book Beginning HDR Photography,  you can learn the workflow (steps) to make a variety of HDR photographs, which add detail to all parts of the photograph with options such as the Grunge to Painterly styles for maximum enhancement.

Don’t underestimate the value of HDR, as it can make a big difference in your photography, especially on cloudy days (to show details in the cloud layers). To be sure, some say that the medium is overprocessed and others don’t say it’s not photography at all, but digital art. No matter what your opinion is about the craft, it’s the only real way you can get more detail into your shadows and highlights without clipping (blown colors) from the processing.

When you learn how to shoot images at different exposures and combine them in postprocessing with Photomatix Pro 4 (the best for HDR processing), you’ll understand the process better, being able to tweak the photographs with more precision and know when you can and can’t do additional processing in Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop’s companion software that tweaks with little damage to the photo)

Contrary to being an art with which you need a tripod to produce, HDR can be shot simply with and without a tripod by adjusting the camera setting known as AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) to shoot several shots at a time at different exposures.

You can also shoot HDR photo sets (landscape, street or indoor ) by adjusting the Shutter Speed settings. HDR photographs give you the choice of making a product that’s ranges from natural looking ones to those that appear surreal or painterly.

About the author

Matthew Bamberg

Matthew Bamberg has provided photographs and written articles for various Southern California newspapers and magazines, including The Desert Sun and The Press-Enterprise. More recently, Matt has been teaching at UC Riverside while also authoring several books like the Quick and Easy Secrets book series (Cengage), Killer Photos with Your iPhone (with Kris Krug and Greg Ketchum, Cengage), the 50 Greatest Photo Opportunities in San Francisco (Cengage) and Digital Art Photography For Dummies (Wiley).