Setting up your camera, HDR Photography

For a relatively short and easy explanation on what HDR or High Dynamic Range Imaging is about, see the description at

But basically, it’s a way to get foreground details along with background details when the light will not allow for both at the same time.  In some instances, the sky will be washed out by overexposure or the foreground is underexposed.  Or vice versa.

HDR is one of the best ways of getting that eye popping photo.

Unfortunately for some of you, I don’t know how to set up a Canon camera on shooting for HDR.  I know if is possible, but I haven’t had a chance to take a look at one for that long in order to do it.  However, for either Nikon, Sony, Pentax, or Canon, you’ll definitely want to get to know your camera.

On a Nikon camera, that’s a different story.

On the D200, there’s a button on the back of the camera that’s marked ‘BKT’, this is the Auto Exposure bracketing button.  On a D300, it’s located on the front just on the bottom near the grip side of the lens.

d200 bkt button d300 function

D200 BKT Button

D300 Function Button

Press the appropriate button on your camera and rotate the rear command dial.

command dialCommand Dial

On the setting display window, you’ll notice lines in the exposure meter show up each time you rotate the dial.  Three, Five, Seven, or Nine of them.  These represent the number of shots at various exposure levels.

ManMode_Display_Callouts Exposure meter displayed in RED box.

You’ll want to set this to five shots.  This will give us a good range of photos to work with.

While pressing the BKT or Function button, rotate the front command dial, located just below the shutter button.  Fine, I’ll show you the picture show you know where it is.

front command dialFront Command Dial

This allows you to change the range of steps for the exposure.  From .03 to 1.0 (you’ll see if on your display screen when you do it), for out purpose, we’re going to use a full step (1.0)

Next, we want to make sure that we have our camera set in the correct mode, we want Aperture Priority mode.  When shooting HDR, we definitely do not want our aperture to change.  Just the shutter speed.

Press and hold the ‘Mode’ button (located near the shutter button) and spin the rear command dial to ‘A’, then set you aperture setting.  For this tutorial, we will use f5.6

Set your camera to a Continuous High Speed setting.

shooting mode dialFrame Advance Mode Dial

Push the little button at the front of the dial, this acts as a little lock, then rotate the FAM dial to CH for Continuous High.

Put your camera on a tripod, the less movement the better.  When you get a good composition, press and hold the shutter button until all five shots are taken.

Go out there and take some photos.  Have fun.  Here are some examples of what you’ll see as you are shooting.

2010-09-06_07-05-28 -2
2010-09-06_07-05-32 -1
2010-09-06_07-05-34 0
2010-09-06_07-05-34_01 +1
2010-09-06_07-05-36 +2

I’ll be back at the end of the week to talk about combining the images into an HDR program and turn the above pictures into this:

eye catching Eye Catching!


ultra contrast Ultra Contrast!

Until then, have fun!


7 thoughts on “Setting up your camera, HDR Photography

    • I would recommend a remote shutter release if you are using on a tripod. This way you can lessen the chance of the camera moving when taking the exposures. However, if there is plenty of light and you are confident that you can hold your camera steady for the 3-5 shots, they go right ahead.

  1. Hello just found your site i really like it, i have a few question. I have a nikon D300 and PHOTOMATIX PRO and i am trying to learn.
    (1) When you shoot HDR does the ISO need to stay the same or change with each exposure.
    (2)Can you still use ND Grads. or any other filter.
    (3) I am unable to afford CS6 Photoshop will Elements work for processing HDR images.

    Hope i am making sense new to Digital Photography.

    Thanks Larry

  2. Pingback: Working on HDR | duanefishblog

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