How to Control Light in Wide Angle HDR

Article by Andre Govia

My topic is how to control light in wide angle HDR. Now as many of you know my area of photography is Urban exploration and abandoned  buildings , I move fast and often don’t have all the time I would like as explorers are mostly on the run . We take the photo as we find it and often work the rest out in post.

My lens of choice is the 12-24mm for wide angle and 50mm prime for detail shots. I often come up on the problem of tone bleed in the edges of a frame even when tone mapped and blow out in the windows and off focus areas. To address the bleed I tone map the photo keeping the frame and smooth as I can without losing detail. Second stage what I do is take a med shot and layer it along with the HDR image and reveal the under layer and pull down the colour to add depth.

Keeping my aperture high at about 5.6 keeps the focus in the low light of an abandoned building. I use a full frame canon and take 3 exposers on timer of 10 seconds without image stabilizer.

We all know that HDR that is overdone brings bad press from anyone who does not view it as an art form like black and white etc. My view is that the best HDR is very soft and gets even the most hard line critic thinking.

Keep your frame under control and stay away from the cartoon look. With Nikon too many Steps don’t mean a better image, however the darker frames are great for the blow out areas when used again in a layer in Photoshop.

When using my 50mm prime lens I tend to only use the high stop numbers to preserve contrast and again keeping the photo as real as I can. Anyone who is new to HDR will start to pick up their own style, it took me about 5 years to master my style and I am still learning new tricks every day.

My last tip is to process your images in a low light room so you can see the dynamic range of the tone map and remove the metallic grey tones with a warm filter ( again in Layers ) .

See more of Andre Govia’s work on flickr