Architectural photo at Gloucester Cathedral featuring ancient crypt with robot sculpture art installation…It was only possible to get this much detail by using bracketing… It seems that the release of Adobe Lightroom CC has re-kindled the fiery debate regarding single exposures vs bracketing, HDR vs digital blending. Although sensor technology has improved immensely there are still many cameras that can’t capture large dynamic ranges, and many compositions that require bracketing to capture the full dynamic range (to avoid blowing out highlights or losing detail in shadows). The number of brackets we take will vary on the demands of the scene and the way we merge these brackets will depend on personal taste and amount of time we want to spend editing.
You might be interested to know that my default for high contrast scenes is to use my tripod and bracket the shot with as many stops as I feel is necessary to ensure that at the minus exposure side I have one image where all the highlights are ‘safe’ and on the plus side at least one exposure showing all the details I want. Exposure ranges vary considerably and all depend on the scene and what my camera thinks is a correct exposure. Sometimes it might be -4 through to +4, sometimes it might be -3 to +1 or just -1 & 0.
However, if you are in a hurry you can simply capture the largest range and then be more selective in your processing at a later date. The benefit of having a selection of brackets which are all -4 to +4, is that you can batch process to HDR. However it’s not something I do as I prefer to process each image individually.
At the end of the day, these skills are extra tools in the bag which can come in handy as and when we want to use them to create the images we visualise.
What’s you take on HDR?