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Sunrise at the Concord Point Lighthouse

HDR Photography Basics

High Dynamic Range photography is ideal for use in situations where you have a broad range of lighting conditions, and a static or mostly static scene. An example would be an indoor shot where you want to also show the outside scenery through a window. Or maybe a landscape photograph taken in the golden hour where you want the shadows to be less prominent. It has many uses, and is also used artistically to create very colorful pictures that, although not realistic looking, are beautiful nonetheless.

HDR image of the Concord Point Lighthouse on a stormy morning

What is HDR Photography?

The simple answer is that HDR is an acronym for high dynamic range. The eye can see a much broader range of light and shadows than the current technology for digital cameras allows in a single, standard photograph.

Many newer digital cameras can process an HDR photograph using multiple exposures and merging them together. There are also a number of software options available for merging images taken across a range of exposure settings.

Close-up of a praying mantis

Depth of field – Controlled Blur

The larger the aperture opening (smaller number) the less depth of field you have. So when you see those great portraits with just the person in focus and the background blurred, that is done by controlling the aperture. When you see landscape photographs with the whole scene amazingly sharp, that is also done by choosing the appropriate aperture.

Abandoned house with mountains in the background.

What is Landscape Photography?

Unlike some other types of photography, landscape photographs should include crisp focus throughout, hence the frequent use of tripods or other stabilizing devices. Although I prefer nature scenes, landscape photography is not limited to such. It also includes cityscapes, and can include sunrise and sunset photographs, people, and other natural components such as trees, mountains, and clouds.