Making The Most of Exposure Settings With HDR

Article by Chris Sutton

How many of you forget about the exposure settings on your camera?

Many a time I’ve forgotten to use this function when the lighting conditions were either too bright or just that little bit too dark. But have you ever used it to give you more exposures than just the 3 or 5 bracketed shots your camera allows?

First off the camera I used for this exercise was a Nikon D80, not a high end DSLR and a few years old now. So as long as your camera can shoot brackets and has a exposure compensator facility then you shouldn’t have any problems recreating this method yourself. The picture is of a vase of flowers still blooming from Mothers day and using the natural light from a window to light the subject.

A tripod is a must here as I’m going to be taking 9 shots and as I have to change the EV settings between each set of 3 bracketed shots, there was no way this could be hand held.

The method I used was to take 3 bracketed shots as normal with my EV settings at 00. Then while holding EV button, I turned the main control dial to adjust the setting to -1.0. I then fired off another set of 3 bracketed shots. Then did the same by changing the setting to +1.0. and shot another 3 off giving me the 9 shots I wanted. At this point I’m beginning to wonder if there is a limit to how many shots Photomatix can load up in one process. The D80 EV compensator settings can go to -5.0 and +5.0 using 0.5 increments, giving me a possibility of shooting 63 different exposures using this method. The mind boggles at this point and beginning to wonder if I tried to do that many exposures my computer would just point and laugh at me and say “you’re having a laugh mate.” So for now, I’m sticking with the 9 exposures. Without any pre-processing I loaded all 9 raw shots into Photomatix. Wow, the resulting image that loaded was not what I was expecting and I did very little work with the sliders as the image was just about how I would have wanted. The detail from the 9 images was far greater than I expected. Straight away my mind was racing ahead of me. “If that’s what I was going to get with 9

images, what would it look like with 12 or more? Time to get back on track…….

After saving the image as a jpg the final processing was done in Photoshop using Color Efex filters.

Here are the before and after pics. The before shot being straight from the camera and the middle of the 3 bracketed shots with settings on the EV set to 00.

This wasn’t an exercise about creating a good hdr image  or good composition etc (as can be seen with all the clutter in the background). This was purely to show that even if you are restricted with how many bracketed shots your camera can take, you still have more options available if you know all the tools your camera has to offer and how best you can use them to take full advantage of the facility they offer. All I’m itching to do now is to take this to another level and hone my editing skills more. I hope this gives a little bit of an eye opener to those who are still fairly new to this great art of ours.

Chris Sutton

You can see more of my work on my facebook page.