HDR photography Hazelnut Park at Sunset

I tried to do something a little different today. About 14 months ago we wrote our first post for livedan330.com, and it was last August that we really got serious about being very good photographers, writers, and content creators. Each month since, we have been exploring our brand and making our content stronger and stronger. I’m not an expert photographer, and I shrivel a bit when I think of it as even being professional. I am just a guy with a camera who was forced to learn on his own and I want to share that knowledge with you.

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I know you are used to our great recipes, travel, gardening, and outdoor living posts. These all have one common thread: They all require photography. Blogging without great images today is like canoeing on a river without paddles. This is just one of those things that every aspiring blogger needs to learn how to do.

Photography can be very intimidating to the novice. But it doesn’t have to be. Even if you picked up an SLR camera for the first time today, I could help you create an image like this.

This is probably a poor choice for starting a series on photography because it seems a bit overwhelming, but the truth is that there is nothing magic about using a camera and taking great photography and I wanted to show you that on even your first attempt at something, you can sometimes find great success. Moving forward, I’m going to start writing about all the little tips, tricks, and hacks for shooting from home with the most basic equipment moving forward.

At LiveDan330.com, we work with several contributors. One is http://www.findingtheuniverse.com/. I have loved Laurence and Vera’s HDR photography ever since we met them. Last night I was inspired to try to do a little bit of that on my own. So what is HDR photography? It stands for High Dynamic Range. A CCD on a camera can only detect three stops of light, while our eye can naturally detect 11 at a time. This means that a single picture is only giving us about one quarter of the potential information we could use. An HDR image essentially merges several images together to capture what a single image misses.

Here’s my first attempt at an HDR image:

To make an HDR image, take pictures that are one stop apart to cover the range of available light from the subject. I live on a path that runs through Arden Hills, MN and my yard is full of trees. So to get an interesting picture with this post-rain sky, I had to step out onto the path. To keep your depth of field constant, set your camera to aperture priority and adjust your shutter to affect the exposure.

I will write more about HDR post production, but you will need a program to pull the pictures together. I used Photomatix. It is super easy and, well … this was my first one! Just look at it! I also did a little bit of masking in photoshop to bring some extra color and darkness to the Photomatix image(something I had never done until last night either). It took me a total of about 20 minutes to make this entire image.

I started with these images: I shot them in RAW mode, but I did a test with .jpeg and it worked great too.

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I processed them in Photmatix and this was the output using the “creative” setting.

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Next, I use Light Room to make an image with the colors pushed. I thought both of these images were fun, and I wanted to use elements of both of them. This is where a little creativity can help you make a really neat image.

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I also wanted the image to draw you down the path, so while I was masking these images together, I also darkened the trees on the sides, lightened the distance in photoshop. What we ended up with is this cool picture below.

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This post isn’t as much as a tutorial, as it is to just show you how easy great photography is. I will be writing a photography series as we move forward with tutorials, videos and a lot more. Today, I hope you just got a little inspired and come back for more.


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About Chris 759 Articles
Chris Ashbach is one of the founders of Dan330. Chris is a pilot and avid outdoorsman who loves fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring. He loves taking kids (especially his own) on trips to share his passion of the outdoors. Chris is also a gardener, volunteers at Let's Go Fishing, and teaches Sunday school. Chris holds a MA in Organizational Leadership and is faculty at a local university in Minnesota; teaching undergraduate business classes.