HDR is in reality, what our eyes see every day but what isn’t captured properly by our cameras. The HDR we use in photography is sort of a trick to overcome limitations of current generations of cameras and display devices.

The human eye can see about 11 stops of light. A stop is a measurable amount of light. A camera can see about 3 stops of light. This means you’ll be setting up your camera to take multiple photos of a scene, all at different shutter speeds, so you get the full range of light.

The HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo has much more information about luminosity than a Low Dynamic Range photo (like a single JPG, TIFF). Luminosity is a characteristic we relate to light, not colour. It does not have anything to do with colour temperature or saturation. Dealing with it can’t be thought as special effect.

Have a go at HDRI

Set up your camera.

Put your camera on a tripod if you have one; find a solid surface to rest it on if you don't ( with practice you can do without a tripod ). If you have a remote release for your camera, all the better; you could also use a short self-timer if you don't. Whatever you use, it is very important that the camera does not move between shots. Set your camera's automatic exposure bracketing (this is called AEB on the menus on Canon cameras), Depending on your camera model, you may only be able to do 3 exposures in AEB at the most. Others will allow 5, 7, 9 and up. The more exposures you can get, the better, because the potential for capturing all the light in the scene increases. A bracketed sequence of 7 exposures would look like this: -3,-2,-1,0,+1,+2,+3.

Set Your Camera to Av Mode and Determine an Aperture, AV Mode is really the only setting that will work for HDRI shooting. This setting lets you determine the aperture of the exposure, and the camera determines the shutter speed. When shooting multiple exposures, you have to consider what needs to stay the same during the brackets. it’s now time to determine what aperture you want to shoot at. Again, aperture controls depth of field, you will find that it is best to work between f.8 and f.22.

Now to your ISO setting, ISO 100 to ISO 400 is what we work with, keeping it as low as we can, You also need to shoot in Raw or JPG [ Raw being the better ], so that's our camera settings taken care of.

Take your photographs.

If you have set up Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) on your camera, then just fire off three shots in a row. If you don't have AEB, then take a photo, adjust the shutter speed one or two stops faster (i.e. if you're at 1/250 sec, go to 1/500 or 1/1000 sec), take a photo, then adjust it one or two stops slower than your original shutter speed (i.e. if you were at 1/250 sec, then set it to 1/125 or 1/60 sec), and take another photo. You will now have three photographs: one overexposed, one underexposed, and one normal.

Download and install Luminance.

There are other programs for the purpose, but Luminance is free, open source, and works on many platforms (Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X).

HDRI using Luminance

Luminance is an opensource graphical user interface application that provides a workflow for HDR imaging. Luminance is a tool for tone mapping HDR photography (high dynamic range imaging), which combines several photos of the same thing but taken at different exposures, resulting in a true representation of what the human eye sees. [ Read tutorial here ]

AFB -2
-2EV .RAW [ Underexposed - Shadows ]
0EV .RAW [ Properly Exposed mid-tones ]
AFB +2
+2EV .RAW [ Overexposed - Highlights ]
Finnished, croped jpg
Finished, cropped .jpg

Beginners HDRI Video's

Realistic HDR Photography with Tim Cooper
View here
with Tim Cooper

An Introduction to HDR Photography
View here
with Alan Kesselhaut

Captain Kimo's HDR Technique Revealed
View here
with Kim Seng