HDR Tutorial – How to Make Beautiful HDR Photos with Ease!

HDR Software – The Requirements

The first thing to get is Photomatix Pro. To get started, visit the Photomatix page and use the coupon code “TREYRATCLIFF” to save 15%. This is an important piece of the puzzle! It is fun and simple HDR software to use – I will show you how. I also taught my son how to use a BB gun and he only injured his sisters twice.

I also offer a Complete HDR Tutorial video course that you might enjoy even more than this texty-version! If you are feeling extra-lazy, then you can also pick up my Trey’s Photomatix Presets, which are not required, but will give you a head start!

The Free HDR Tutorial

I wrote this Free HDR photography tutorial over six years ago and I update it about every three months. Recently I rewrote it from scratch to incorporate all of the new things I’ve learned and I am happy to share them with you here.

Hundreds of thousands of people have used this tutorial to learn how to make beautiful HDR photos — I am sure it can teach you too! Remember, anyone can do this stuff. All it takes is a tiny bit of curiosity. You will surprise yourself in no time! Let’s get started! :)

Who is the best audience for this HDR Photography tutorial?

This tutorial is great for new photographers as well as intermediate to beyond. We’ll get started slow, and ramp up from there!

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is still a relatively new way to create photos. I’ve traveled around the world and shot with many incredible photographers. After we shoot, we get together to compare techniques and post-process photos late into the night. Over time I’ve crafted a best-of-breed solution that will help you create your own unique art. This tutorial not only teaches HDR, but it will help you create a style that is quintessentially your own!

Interested in a full How-to Video Course on HDR Photography

Grab the complete course now! This is a brand-new video tutorial that is great for beginners, and it also has lots of meat in there if you are intermediate or advanced. It’s over 10 hours long, but you’ll be up and running in half an hour with your first HDR shot!

I edit a ton of photos in every possible situation: Indoor, Outdoor, Sunrise, Sunset, Mid-Day, Mixed Indoor-Outdoor, Action, Movement, People, Nature & Landscape, Architectural, Travel, and more. There are many hours of high-production quality video as you watch me set up in these conditions, and then many more hours of screen capture, as you see me edit the photos you just saw captured in the field. Even better, you get all of my RAW files! So you can follow along, step-by-step, and see exactly how I do each and every move.

Here’s a good teaser video for you! :)

 

Would you like to read this tutorial offline?

This same tutorial is available in the form a beautiful eBook, Introduction to HDR, that you can download and read it offline. It’s a great resource to keep with you that you can reference over and over again.

This eBook that will save you a lot of time and trouble!

Get the Top 10 HDR Mistakes eBook right here! This has been a labor of love (and embarrassment)! Why embarrassment? Well, I decided to use my OWN early photos as examples of bad HDR. I made all the mistakes, believe me. I’ve corrected all of them (I think!) and I figured out what I was doing wrong. I explain it all in the book. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time, but now it is. Anyway, this eBook will be a great boon to you!

 

Free Newsletter from Trey!

There I am. I look confused, don’t I? I think I was at the time. Anyway, sign up for my newsletter! There are always hot tips and the latest goodies! I send out about one a month and I promise not to spam you!


 

You wanna hang out on Social Media? Sure, why not? Everyone is doing it!

Follow me on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram!

What is HDR?

HDR is an acronym for High Dynamic Range. If you use some special HDR software, you can see all the light in the final photo that you can see when you are standing on the scene. Perhaps you’ve been in a beautiful spot and taken a photo and it comes out flat and disappointing. With HDR processing there is no longer a need for that — now the final image can be as truly evocative as it was when you were there.

The human eye can see so much more than a single shot from your camera! I say there is no need to accept the limitations of the camera. You can use the camera in a simple and innovative way to replicate what the eye can do. You’ll be using a combination of the camera and some software to achieve the final look.

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. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

Sample HDR Photos

Here are a few interesting HDR photographs that people seem to enjoy. This shows the sort of style I have arrived at over the years by using the techniques described in this tutorial. You can see many more in my portfolio.

The Bamboo Forest While exploring Kyoto, I eventually found my way to this fanciful bamboo forest.  There had been a light rain most of the morning and everything was quite lovely.  The rain does strange things as it moves its way through these sorts of trees.  I waited and waited, and that was nice too.  In the early afternoon, the rain stopped while the sun peeked through the top.  It shone down while the earlier rain misted down from the tops of the trees.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Downtown Beijing After Rain Just about the only time you get a break from the smog is after a good rain. I’m sure all that nonsense just ends up down on the ground and soaks slowly into the groundwater.Anyhoo, this is the CBD (Central Business District) of Beijing. And yes, I took this with the Sony NEX-7. I’m working on that other piece I mentioned above and will put it up on the blog soon!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

 Moonrise Kingdom This is one of my favorite new pieces from this year! I just shot it a few days ago.It was shot waaaay after the sun went down in Big Sur, California. This is a crazy waterfall that pours off onto the beach. You can’t see it from the road, and it requires a short walk. I found it thanks to Stuck On Earth, although I am sure other locals have known about this semi-secret place forever! You can go here too… it’s not terribly difficult. It’s called “McWay Falls” and it’s beautiful any time of the day.Also, btw, I’d like to thank those of you that have been ordering more prints recently — I am honored! :) You can always click just below the photo to check sizes and prices to find something to fit your budget. Thanks again!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Reflections on the Eiffel Tower Isn't it romantic?  What could be more perfect than a beautiful sunset here in Paris?There was a big storm all day long, but I could see the clouds were beginning to break up a little to the west, and I knew there was a possibility the sun would dip into an opening beneath the heavy clouds.  So, with that intense possibility, I headed over to the Eiffel Tower area hoping the light would turn out right...I also made a behind-the-scenes video.  Since you guys have been so nice over on Google+, I'll share that video exclusively there first, so be sure to stay tuned... I'm still editing the thing together!- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Long Road to New Zealand This is one of countless beautiful roads that crisscross New Zealand.  I'm afraid I've forgotten exactly where I was when I took this photo!   I know that is very lame, but I bet people around here can help me pinpoint the area.As far as the camera settings, this is the kind of shot you can get with something called "compression," a method where you use a zoom lens and zoom in quite far.  It takes images in the distance and makes them larger than life.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Inception: New York I took these photos in New York City before going to LA to prepare for Burning Man. I found this spot below in midtown during a walk from Bryant Park over to the Facebook HQ in NYC. If you check my Facebook page, you’ll see some photos that Luke shot of me while I was taking this shot. It’s the one when I was awkwardly up under my camera shooting almost straight up in the air! You know that position…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Walking Home

The Secret Workshop of Jules Verne This is perhaps my favorite find on my most recent trip to Europe.  How can a place so wonderful exist in our world?  It's amazing.I got a recommendation from a close friend that told me I would love this place.  And he was right!  As usual, to see the full-size image, click Original in the menu that appears when you hover over the image in SmugMug.This is the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle and is one of the least-known places in Paris.  Everyone goes for the hot tourist spots, and this museum sounds rather boring, yes?  But as you can see... au contraire!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Hobbiton in the Morning

Lijiang at Night This is the old town of Lijiang, China, where I spent the week with Tom Anderson (the MySpace guy).  I think I mentioned him before.  Anyway, we got to be friends over the past several months, and we ended up spending a week together here in the south of China.Tom had first been here many years ago when he was setting up the MySpace office in Beijing.  He had great memories, and he thought it would be great for a big return now that he is getting more into photography.  So, it was definitely a week full of non-stop photography action.One late night after the sun had set, we weaved through the old streets until we found this place.  Looking up, I knew it would be a wonderful place to take a photo, so I set up for this one.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

A Neo-Rockwellian Christmas When dad is a photographer, then there is a major degree of pressure to deliver photos on all the requisite holidays and celebrations! So, I decided to try to re-invent the family Christmas photo with HDR. Please note that many of my inventions go down in flames, but, as Winston Churchill said, “success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm”.Christmas scenes have a lot of light levels. The lights on the tree, the deep greens withn the branches, a roaring fire, lights in the room, reflections off the ornaments, and the like. It’s wild! I’m pretty sure this is why people like Christmas scenes so much - a wonderful treat for the eyes that is rich in texture and rich in light. Traditionally, it’s been very difficult to capture so much richness in a single photo, saving a lucky and heroic combination of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and lenses.The tree lights made the faces of my three stunt-children (who are also my real children) glow perfectly. No flash could have achieved this, unless you are the kind of Rambo-flash guy that would go bury one inside the tree to hit their faces from the left. But, let’s face it. That’s hard.This was a 5-exposure HDR. You will notice that I often use 5 exposures, but note I could have done it with 3 exposures at -2, 0, and +2. Some silly Nikon cameras, like the D3X I use, will not let you step by twos, so I had to take 5 at -2, -1, 0, +1, and +2. The middle exposure, from which the kid’s faces were masked in and perfectly lit, was shot at f/4 aperture, shutter speed of 1/250, 100 ISO, and at 28mm.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

-The Gentle Path to the Beyond-The little train that carried me into Hakone started winding through misty mountains.  The trees were thick and a fog was rolling in.  I had a feeling that it would stay wet, moody, and fairly perfect.  It had that heaviness that made you feel like it would remain like that for a few days, and it did.Before I get on train rides, I have a wonderful but dangerous habit of loading up with pastries.  Train stations seem to have nice little selections of all sorts of foreign twists on the usual subjects.  And, since I consider myself an explorer, I thought it would be good to get a TON of pastries and try them all.  It's very nice... sitting there... looking out the train window at a new land... rain falling... eating pastries...  (and I'm only a little ashamed to say that, upon arrival, my pastry bag was empty.)

Hong Kong from the Peak on a Summer's Night If you want to see how I made this (and how you can too!), visit my HDR Tutorial. I hope it gives you some new tricks!I had a long day waking up at 5 AM to take a series of subways and trains up to Shenzen for some meetings. I had a Chinese VISA, which you don't need to get into Hong Kong, but I had to use to cross the official Chinese border after getting off the train. I didn't realize that it was a one-time use VISA, and I had to go to Shanghai the next day. This caused a lot of problems with the Chinese officials, a body of government with which I do not enjoy causing problems.Anyway, after I got back to Hong Kong after a day in Shenzen, I was hot and sweaty and in the sort of meeting clothes that aren't great for being hot and sweaty in. But, everything about Hong Kong was still awesome and I had too look hard for things to complain about. The sun was setting, and I made it up to The Peak just in time for a shot.This was a 5-exposure HDR shot at 100 ISO, and, of course, a sturdy tripod to get all the lights as steady as possible.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Treetop Temple Protects Kyoto I'm just finishing up almost two weeks in Japan, and it has been an amazing trip! Usually I try not to start posting shots until the trip is at its close, and this is the first.While there, I spent time all over the country. I got a rail pass and just jumped on the bullet train to take me from one remote spot to another. I ended up with a few days in Tokyo to do my best to capture the city. I'll be posting photos from the trip throughout the next few weeks, months, and years, as usual. I hope this is a new line of photographs that will be interesting to you.Photographed here is the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto. The city is known for its traditional Japanese architecture, slower-paced life, natural beauty, graceful geishas, and zen peacefulness. I probably could have stayed in Kyoto capturing scenes the entire trip. I remained here until the sky turned black, and then I headed back down some winding streets to find an old small restaurant where the food was mysterious and every course was served with a gentle bow.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Step 1: Get your box of 64 Crayons ready!

This works on Mac or Windows. I have converted from a Windows guy to a Mac guy. I used to dislike Mac people and thought they were annoying, but now I’m a changed man. Okay, I have digressed way too early in this tutorial.

By the way, all the steps in the tutorial are the same, whether you are using Mac or Windows.

HDR Software to Download – Required

Optional Photo Software to Download – Highly recommended and fun!

Q&A: Where is the best place to keep your online portfolio?

This is a question I get a lot! I use SmugMug. Read my whole SmugMug Review to get a discount and find out more. There is a lot more Q&A at the end of the tutorial too!

Now that you have some new tools and tricks to salivate over, we can move on to the next easy steps in the tutorial!

Page 2 of the Tutorial

You’re currently on Page 1. Turn to Page 2.

> NEXT – PART 2 OF THE HDR TUTORIAL

 

Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!


x
  • © 2004 - 2014, SIC Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.