First Time Out with HDR Photography on a Canon 40D

[Update – 12/29/08 – Just added some new HDR photos taken in San Francisco last Sunday (Palace of Fine Arts and the “Painted Ladies” Victorian homes), Menlo Park yesterday (Sharon Park), and some earlier ones from Half Moon Bay (grounds of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel) and Pescadero. See my full collection of HDR stuff here on Flickr. I’m still learning and welcome all feedback!]

[Update – 12/22/08 – Very good HDR tutorial here: How to Create High Dynamic Range Photos]

After meeting up with a friend recently who turned out to be quite an HDR photography guru, I wanted to try my hand using that technique. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been in awe of some of the striking photos that others have taken using HDR. In early 2007 up at Lake Tahoe I had tried fooling around using Photoshop CS3’s HDR support – but it turns out to be only a partial solution and I found the results to be lackluster.

This afternoon, I headed over to the Stanford Quad for an exploratory session in High Dynamic Range photography. My kit was my Canon 40D, a Canon 24-105MM f4 L IS USM Zoom lens, and my trusty (but, as it turns out, weak-headed) Manfrotto tripod.

Setting up the Canon 40D for HDR involves first selecting Aperture Priority (to avoid any focus/depth of field issues), then enabling Automatic Exposure Bracketing (I used +/- 2 EV for the brackets) and selecting an appropriate ISO (other than Auto).

With the high-speed drive enabled, the 40D takes 3 quick shots using the bracketed exposures (with the camera automatically adjusting shutter speeds). Almost all of the shots were taken on the tripod – except for a couple taken handheld.

This first time out I shot in RAW – a total of 57 pictures consumed almost 500 MB of space – next time I think I’ll try just shooting JPG and see how that works!

Back home, I used Photomatix Pro to process the photos – its default settings produced some stunning HDR photos! (Here’s a great tutorial on Photomatix Pro. And, here’s another one with a discount code for buying Photomatix Pro.). I saved the files as JPG and then imported them into my master photo library using Aperture. A minor bit of post-processing in Aperture (primarily for horizonal alignment) and I was done.

You can see the results of today’s experiment on my Flickr account. Here’s a set with the originals and here’s the post-processed set after tweaking the alignment.

Here’s the slideshow:

All in all, it was a good hour out in the hot sun at Stanford this afternoon. Next time, I need to remember pay attention to setting the aperture (it was left at f/4) before starting a set of HDR shots! And, a better tripod seems required for the vertical shots – at least with the weight of this particular lens on the 40D.

For more HDR, see these two groups on Flickr.

3 thoughts on “First Time Out with HDR Photography on a Canon 40D

  1. Eddie Dredge

    Hi there. Really enjoyed your photos. Would you be so kind as to put all you settings (ie best appature) as I’m off next week to try doing HDR for my self and any help would be really appreciated
    many thanks
    eddie dredge

    Reply

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