Learn How To Shoot The Best HDR Photography By Meta Gatschenberger
Meta’s Best HDR Photography Tips For Beginners
Shooting Sunrises and Sunsets is often very difficult, because you have a very bright sky and a very dark foreground.
Natural Looking HDR Photography is ideal for High Contrast Photos, such as Sunrise Photography and Sunset Photography. When shooting directly into the sun, always use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL). You can also use add a Variable ND Filter to cut down on the Exposure.
Sunrise and Sunset HDR Photography is one of Meta’s favorite type of Nature Photography, because she lives right off the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park, which has some amazing overlooks that face east and west.
Meta’s Shoots all of her Sunrise and Sunset Photography with 5 Bracketed Shots for HDR Post Production. Shooting HDR Photography using Exposure Bracketing requires shooting 3 or 5 Bracketed Images, at different EV Levels, using a Constant Aperture but Different Shutter Speeds, then combining them using Aurora HDR Post Production Software into one final HDR Image.
Meta Gatschenberger, RN, shoots with 24 Megapixel Sony Digital Cameras with Sony and Minolta AF Lenses.
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Meta’s Best HDR Photography Tips For Sunrise and Sunset Photography
Meta’s HDR Photography Setup For Sunrise and Sunset Photography
The Standard Sunset Photo (Photo: Left – Left Side) is underexposed on the bottom, but the Bracketed HDR Photograph on the Right Side is the result of combining 5 bracketed images, shot at 1.0EV apart in Aperture Mode at ISO 100, starting at around f/8 at 5 Different Shutter Speeds, at ISO 100.
The HDR Post Production Software used is Aurora HDR, which combines the 5 Bracketed Shots into one Natural HDR Image
A Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND Filter) is required to prevent any over exposure shooting directly into the sun!
Ad • RAW Post Production Software – Meta uses Luminar and Aurora HDR for her RAW Post Production Software. Aurora HDR is a RAW photo editor focused on creating high quality HDR merges from multiple image brackets. Luminar is an innovative AI Software that focuses on time saving edits and creativity. No Monthly Subscription Fees!
Meta’s Best HDR Photography Tips
Shooting Sunrise and Sunset HDR Photography using Bracketing requires absolutely no movement of the Camera between multiple shots! Meta shoots in RAW HDR Bracketing on a Sturdy Tripod using a Wireless Remote Control. In Bracket Mode, you’ll notice 5 EV arrows in the viewfinder, instead of the usual 1 EV arrow. Expose on the foreground, not the sky, then line up the center EV arrow at 0.
Meta’s Best HDR Sunrise and Sunset Photography usually involves low lying clouds. Clouds refract the light and produce interesting contrast and colors. Days following a heavy rain are much cleaner and provide long range views.
Shoot Sunsets at the Golden Hour, the 1/2 Hour Period Before Sunset and After Sunset. This is the time to shoot Sunset Photography, when the sunlight is redder, softer, and parallel to the horizon. Meta wears her Red LED Head Lamp for hands free Night Sky Photography setup. Always use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL).
Shoot Sunrises at the Blue Hour, the 1/2 Hour Period Before Sunrise and After Sunrise. This is the time to shoot Sunrise Photography, when the sunlight is blueish, evenly diffused, and parallel to the horizon. Always use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL).
Ad • Aurora HDR Software – All HDR Photography requires some Special HDR Post Production Software, such as Aurora HDR, to combine the 5 Bracketed RAW Images in your computer. Meta uses Aurora HDR for her RAW HDR Post Processing. Meta shoots in Program Mode in RAW using 5 Continuous Bracketed shots, 1.0EV apart (-2.0, -1.0, 0, +1.0, +2.0).
Some say there’s no advantage to shooting 5 Bracketed Shots over 3 Shots, which takes longer and uses up more SD Card Space. Meta ran some HDR Bracketing tests using Aurora HDR on the same 5 RAW Bracketed Shots at 1EV apart at different shutter speeds (Program Mode at ISO 100 or Auto ISO Limited to ISO 800).
Zooming in to 600% to see the pixels, the HDR Image from 1 Standard Single Shot was noisy. The HDR Image from the middle 3 Bracketed Shots had some noise, but the HDR Image from 5 Bracketed Shots was clean. This is why Meta often shoots 5 RAW Bracketed Shots instead of 3 Shots.
Sony Digital Camera Setup For HDR Photography
You can change the Bracket Order on your Sony Digital Camera to “Darkest, Standard, Lightest”. This makes it much easier to find the set of 3 or 5 Bracketed images on the SD Card. Always use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL). Meta uses these Sony Camera Settings for her HDR Photography:
5 –> Bracket Order –> - > 0 > + (Darkest, Standard, Lightest).
1 –> Quality –> RAW
2 –> Drive Mode –> Continuous Bracketing 1.0EV 5 Images
3 –> Focus Area –> Wide
5 –> Metering Mode –> Multi
5 –> ISO –> 100
What’s Inside Meta’s Sunrise and Sunset Photography Field Kit
Meta’s Sunrise and Sunset Photography Field Kit attaches to the back of her Camera Bag. This Modular Configuration is used only for her Sunrise and Sunset Photography and contains:
• 1 Red LED Head Lamp
• 1 Red LED Flashlight
• 6 AAA Energizer Lithium Batteries for Head Lamp
• 2 AA Energizer Lithium Batteries for Red LED Flash Light
• 4W Dew Remover Heated Lens Wrap
• Anker 3350 USB Power Bank
Meta’s Best HDR Photography Camera Settings
Camera: Sony a77 II Digital Camera
Lenses: Minolta AF 20mm f/2.8 or Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
Tripod: Slik Pro 700DX Tripod with a Sony Wireless Remote Control
Camera Mode: Program Mode (Takes 5 Shots at varying Shutter Speeds)
ISO: ISO 100 or Auto ISO (Limited to ISO 800)
Aperture: f/8 to f/16
Focus: Manual Focus to Infinity
Filter: Variable ND Filter or 2 Stop Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL)
Drive Mode: Continuous Bracket: 1.0EV 5 Images for HDR Post Production
Shooting HDR Sunrises: Increase the Aperture from f/8 to f/16 as the sun rises and it gets brighter. Setup 1/2 hour before sunrise.
Shooting HDR Sunsets: Decrease the Aperture from f/8 to f/4 as the sun sets and it gets darker. Setup 1/2 hour before sunset.
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Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Member: Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association
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