How To Photograph The Best HDR Photography By Nature Photographer Meta Gatschenberger
Meta’s Best HDR Photography Tips For Beginners
Meta’s Shooting Sunrise Photography and Sunset Photography is often difficult, because you have a very bright sky and a very dark foreground.
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) or Neutral Density Filter (ND).
HDR Sunrise Photography and HDR Sunset Photography is one of Meta’s favorite type of Digital Photography, because she lives right off the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park at 3,800’ Elevation, which has some amazing overlooks that face east and west.
Meta shoots all of her Sunrise Photography and Sunset Photography with 5 Bracketed Shots for HDR Post Production using Aurora HDR Post Production Software. 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.
Shooting 5 Bracketed Shots for every HDR Image can quickly fill up Smaller SD Cards, which is why Meta uses Faster and Larger SanDisk Extreme Pro SD Cards. Now Up To 1TB!
Western North Carolina HDR Photographer Meta Gatschenberger, RN, shoots with Sony Digital Cameras and Vintage Minolta Maxxum AF Lenses.
Meta’s “Golden Sunrise” (Photo: Top) was shot with a Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 Prime Lens mounted on a Sony Digital Camera.
Ad • Faster and Larger SD Cards – Shooting 5 Bracketed Shots for every HDR Image or Shooting RAW at 10 to 12 Shots Per Second in High Speed Burst Mode can quickly fill up Smaller SD Cards, which is why Meta uses Faster and Larger SanDisk Extreme Pro SD Cards. Now Up To 1TB!
Meta’s Best HDR Photography Tips For Beginners
HDR Photography Setup For Sunrise Photography 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) 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!
HDR Photography Tips For Beginners
Shooting HDR Sunrise Photography and HDR Sunset 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.
Best HDR Sunrise Photography and HDR Sunset Photography often 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.
Golden Hour – Photograph Sunsets at the Golden Hour, the 1/2 Hour Period Before Sunset and After Sunset. This is the time to photograph 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. Use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL) or Neutral Density Filter (ND).
Blue Hour – Photograph Sunrises at the Blue Hour, the 1/2 Hour Period Before Sunrise and After Sunrise. This is the time to photograph Sunrise Photography, when the sunlight is blueish, evenly diffused, and parallel to the horizon. Meta wears her Red LED Head Lamp for hands free Night Sky Photography setup. Use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL).
Ad • Aurora HDR Post Production Software – All HDR Photography requires some Special HDR Post Production Software, such as Aurora HDR Post Production Software, 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 Bracketed 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).
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 very clean. This is why Meta often shoots 5 RAW Bracketed Shots instead of 3 RAW Bracketed Shots.
Sony Digital Camera Setup For HDR Photography
You should change the Bracket Order on your Sony Digital Camera to “Darkest, Standard, Lightest”. This makes it much easier to find the set of set of Bracketed images on the SD Card. Always use a Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL) or Neutral Density Filter (ND). Meta uses these Sony Digital Camera Settings for her HDR Photography:
5 –> Bracket Order –> - > 0 > + (Darkest, Standard, Lightest).
What’s Inside Meta’s Sunrise Photography and Sunset Photography Field Kit
Meta’s Sunrise Photography 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 Energizer AAA 1.5V Lithium Batteries for Head Lamp
• 2 Energizer AA 1.5V Lithium Batteries for Red LED Flash Light
• 4W Dew Remover Heated Lens Wrap
• Anker 3350 USB Power Bank
HDR Photography Camera Settings For Beginners
Camera: Sony a99 II Digital Camera or Sony a77 II Digital Camera
Lenses: Minolta AF 20mm f/2.8 or Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
Tripod: Slik Pro 700 DX Tripod with a Sony Wireless Remote Control
Camera Mode: Program Mode (Takes 5 Shots at varying Shutter Speeds)
ISO: Auto ISO Limited to ISO 800 (APS-C) or ISO 1600 (Full Frame)
Aperture: f/8 to f/16
Focus: Expand Flexible Spot
Filter: 3-Stop ND Filter or CPL Filter
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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