This is the same photo, side by side. Well…basically. The photo on the left is one photo in a series of three which make up the photo on the right. The photo on the right is an HDR photo, a combination of three images merged into one. This was a great location to take an HDR photo because of the contrast of bright light in the sky and the darkness of the light on the rocks.
In order to get a beautifully clear HDR shot, it is essential for the camera to be mounted on a sturdy tripod. To ensure a clear photo, you should also have an external shutter release or a wireless remote to take your photos. This will ensure that the camera hasn’t moved from finger vibration while you press the trigger on the camera.
As mentioned above, in order to create an HDR photo, you need to take at least two photos, but more photos are preferred, especially if there is quite a bit of contrast in the photo. The photo on the right is merged with three photos; one underexposed, one normal and one overexposed. The photo on the left is the normal photo of the used in this HDR series.
It takes a good eye to know how to adjust the settings just right in order to capture all of the detail in the rocks and not wash out any highlights or underexpose and rocks. It takes practice doing this without making an image look flat. After the image on the right was created from three RAW .CR2 files, I exported it into a 16 bit TIFF file. Then, I opened it in Aperture and adjusted a variety of levels until I found a balance that I liked. I enhanced the reds and the yellows in the HDR photo as well as some of the bright green tones. I also removed some of the blueness from the sky and ocean to balance it out a little better.
I mentioned that this is the same photo on both the left and right, however you may notice some differences in the way the waves hit the rocks. For example, the photo on the right has more wave action on the rocks in the foreground than the photo on the left does. That is because when you take an HDR photo, because it is three separate photos, they are taken over a one second period, so the waves are different in the third photo than they are in the first photo. The HDR software merges all of the details and the brightness of the waves override the dark rock beneath it.
Check out my HDR before and after photo of boats in Newport harbor.