The Best HDR Photography Tips and Techniques For Beginner Photographers – Shooting Sunrises and Sunsets

How To Shoot The Best HDR Photography – Shooting Sunrises and Sunsets

How To Shoot HDR Photography – In this section of Digital Photography Tips and Techniques, Photos By Meta Explains How To Shoot The Best High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography using Exposure Bracketing For Beginner Photographers.

Natural Looking HDR Photography is ideal for High Contrast Photos, such as Sunrise Photography and Sunset Photography.

Using Exposure Bracketing – Shooting HDR Photography using 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 into one final HDR Photograph.

Where To Buy The Best HDR Photography Books

How To Shoot High Dynamic Range Photography

High Dynamic Range Photography

HDR Photography – The Standard Sunset Photo (Photo: Left – Left Side) is underexposed on the bottom, but the Bracketed HDR Photograph on the Nature Looking Right Side is the result of combining 5 bracketed images, shot at 1.0EV apart in Manual Mode at ISO 100, starting at around f/8 at 5 Different Shutter Speeds, at ISO 100. A 3 Stop Neutral Density Filter (ND Filter) or 2 Stop Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL) is used to prevent any over exposure shooting directly into the sunset! Post Processing of the 5 Bracketed shots was done in Aurora HDR.

HDR Bracketing – Shooting Sunrise and Sunset HDR Photography using Bracketing requires absolutely no movement of the Digital 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.

Golden Hour – 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 uses a Red LED Flashlight or a Red Glow Stick for setup.

Blue Hour – 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. Meta uses a Red LED Flashlight or a Red Glow Stick for setup.

Best Days to Shoot HDR Sunset Photography – HDR Sunset Photography usually involves low lying clouds. Clouds reflect the light and produce interesting contrast and colors. Days following a heavy rain are much cleaner and provide long range views.

Digital Photography TipsShooting The Best Sunrise and Sunset Photography is often left up to luck and chance. But now there’s a better way to predict your local Sunrise and Sunset Quality Forecasts. SunsetWX provides accurate, global sunrise and sunset quality forecasts, utilizing proprietary methodologies. Give it a try!

View Meta’s Landscape Photography Photos


Aurora HDR – 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 Manual Mode in RAW using 5 Continuous Bracketed shots, 1.0EV apart (-2.0, -1.0, 0, +1.0, +2.0).

Did She Fire 5 Shots or Only 3 – 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 (Manual Mode at ISO 100 – Not Auto ISO).

Conclusions – Zoomed 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 or 1 Shot.

Auto ISO – If you shoot in Manual Mode and Auto ISO, the Sony Digital Camera will try and use 5 Different ISOs when Bracketing, instead of 5 Different Shutter Speeds. This method isn’t consistent, especially if your Auto ISO is capped at ISO 400, but give it a try anyway.

Manual Mode – ISO 100 – Start at around f/8 – Manual Focus to Infinity

Camera 1 –> Quality –> RAW
Camera 2 –> Drive Mode –> Continuous Bracketing 1.0EV 5 Images
Camera 3 –> Focus Area –> Wide
Camera 5 –> Metering Mode –> Multi
Camera 5 –> ISO –> 100 (Do Not Use Auto ISO)
Gear 5 –> Bracket Order –> - > 0 > + (Darkest, Standard, Lightest).

Meta’s HDR Photography Sony Digital Camera Settings

Camera: Sony a77 II Digital Camera
Lenses: Minolta AF 24mm f/2.8 or Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
Camera Mode: Manual Mode (Takes 5 Shots at varying Shutter Speeds)
Tripod: Sturdy Tripod with Wireless Remote Control or Intervalometer
Focus: Manual Focus to Infinity
ISO: Lowest Possible ISO 100 (Sony Native ISO 100)
Aperture: f/8 to f/11
Image Stabilization: Off
Drive Mode: Continuous Bracket: 1.0EV 5 Images
Filter: 3 Stop ND Filter (ND 8 | 0.9) or 2 Stop Circular Polarizer Filter (CPL)
Flash Power: Off

Shooting HDR Sunrises: Slowly 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: Slowly Decrease the Aperture from f/8 to f/4 as the sun sets and it gets darker. Setup 1/2 hour before sunset.

Digital Photography TipsShooting HDR Photography is something you should be always thinking about. Even if you are not shooting HDR, consider shooting 5 bracketed shots all the time, even if you are shooting Hand Held. This way, if you want to process in HDR later, you will have the 5 bracketed shots to do so.

Neutral Density Filters Table

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Digital Photography Tips and Techniques For Beginner Photographers
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Photos By Meta

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Western North Carolina Nature Photography was shot by Western North Carolina Nature Photographer Meta Gätschenberger.
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