What to know about HDR camera settings.

Learn more about high dynamic range in photography and when to use this camera setting for incredible photos.

HDR is a photo technique that, when used right, can provide a visual treat by adding more detail in your photo’s light and dark areas. Let’s dive into what the HDR setting means and when to use it.

What is HDR photography?

HDR stands for high dynamic range. Put simply, it’s the range of light and dark tones in your photos. The human eye has a very high dynamic range — which is why we can see details in both shadows and highlights. It can be difficult for cameras to catch the same amount of details because their ranges are slightly smaller.

HDR: then and now.

When the term HDR first came on the scene, it referred to a technique called “bracketing.” This technique achieves a wider dynamic range by taking the same picture three times — one at the most natural setting, plus two more that are overexposed and underexposed. Then, editing software blends the three images to preserve the details from the brightest highlight to the darkest shadow.

When we talk about HDR now, its meaning is slightly different, thanks to recent advancements in digital cameras. Many cameras now have a built-in HDR setting. This means the camera will take the three photos but only show you the result of blending all three — saving you from the hard work.

When to use HDR.

As a general rule, the HDR camera setting is useful when you have trouble balancing a photo’s light. When shooting landscape photography, it can help show the details of where the sun is hitting as well as where the shadows fall.

Avoid HDR when you want to capture motion, such as in sports photography. Otherwise, you may end up with very bright or very dark areas within your photos. Get more photo tips for improving your photography skills.

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