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Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 8 of 21

HDR as a Tool


Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 8 of 21

HDR as a Tool


Lesson Info

HDR as a Tool

Hi dynamic range. We want natural looking contrast control and also to turn maybe change the color is a little bit in some of the images we can I actually take a raw image and we could do single image hdr if it's a raw image, we can actually do quite a bit of opening up of shadows using this particular software and you could do the graphic effects. You know, a lot of people are kind of passe now to do the grunge effect and that kind of stuff. I don't know how many how many of you are still doing that kind of a thing, but it's kind of frowned upon when I judge a competition or something like that. Grunge does not sell well, teo judges at this point in time, but this is where it becomes a tool. I'm in botswana. I have the elephants have come out into this meadow. I had these incredible thunderheads out here. The sun is still hitting the thunderheads there's no light coming down toward the elephants are and this picture looks like yeah, okay, you took that picture. But that picture wasn't...

really there for me to take in the sense that if I if I exposed for the for the clouds, well, this one over here would be for the clouds and all that beauty there I had to be under exposed by one and a half stops by normal exposure. Trying to get both of them toe work was, you know, it's too dark here and it's a little too light there. Now, if I wanted to get the elephants I have exposed for the elephants. But by doing all three of these images with a one half stop difference now the elephants are moving. So what you do is you you set your auto exposure bracketing to be one and a half stops different, and you take you push down the button and you take three pictures that quick, you've just done an hdr. You could walk around handholding hd ours. Then wilmore is one of the people who did a lot of this and was telling me about this and one of the instructors he was on actually last week, and he would just walk up to something three pictures and you have an hdr and made for very beautiful, different colors and to improve the shadow details and things but there's the end result. So it takes a little extra work when you have a little bit more of a problem, but we're using hdr as a tool instead of in effect. That's not to say that an effective and a good idea. Well, let's, let's talk about a single image hdr from in it. Yeah, if you have a raw file, you can bring it into photo matics pro and you could treat it as if it was an h to be an hdr. You can actually do it in everything from c s five to c c twenty fifteen and if you go to image and then you on image here you go toe adjustments. You come all the way down to hdr toning when you click on that up will come this menu and you treat your single raw image as if it was an hdr it's as if you had three images or more and it'll open up, it'll open up the image considerably. This is yours first, this is your image that you started with. This is the image that you did a single hdr, it helped it opened up some areas, but if you did it properly in this case, I did four images. Now I've opened up the darker areas because the exposure on one of those exposures one of those four images was right for this and in here and in the sky, you still can't beat doing it right there are ways of of going getting around it and opening up the shadows and things because the software so much better the cameras were so much better but if you have it in the camera if you have the image with that detail in there it's always going to be a bitter and injuries old so this is ahh chevy nomad this is in northern patagonia chile and the's air the andes back behind here in a big lake that's in here and I'm in this little tiny town and I go on one of the back roads and here's this nomad and it's sitting there waiting for triple a it has a bio engine you can see that right away so I took the picture and you know that's kind of cool but then I thought well and this is where we started today if I if you know a way of improving upon this at the time that you take these pictures you can bring these back and you have the opportunity to do some more work on so I took a picture on the money I went plus one plus to and I would've minus one in a minus two I put them all together and you know it's kind of a grunge type of a picture but there's still a place for that kind of stuff it it that's what I felt when I saw that I thought it was pretty cool and now you can really see the engine and well the wheels or not going to well here, but the fact that a road had only come into this area, you know, within ten years of the time I was there that I don't know how they got the car there in the first place. There's a number of hdr programs out there there's a dhobi photo shop now light room does hdr. This latest version of light room does a beautiful job of hdr and even gives you some features that we didn't even have before. There's hdr effects pro by nick of I think amazon who purchased that was it google google purchase that one and hdr exposed by unified color is another good program is very much more natural. Our results and photo matics is the one that I used the most. It will give you either natural or go crazy. If you want to go crazy, we can do that, and if you're on a budget for twenty nine dollars or so, brackett ear by penn jia is in little very simple hdr program that you can download and it's very intuitive and it's very simple. It won't do all of the stuff these other ones will, but it's a good starting point, and if you've already got a photo shop, just do it in photo shop, play with it.

Class Description


  • Create a variety of dramatic panoramas.

  • Capture rapid movements, such as the flapping of a bird’s wings.

  • Take close-up shots that depict the beauty and vibrant colors of flowers.

  • Capture images of snowflakes using specialized equipment and intricate techniques.

  • Photograph and take videos of lightning storms.

  • Use various types of additional lighting, including electronic flashes.


Are you a major gearhead who loves hearing about the latest and greatest photography equipment on the market today? Do you want to learn some amazing techniques that will take your outdoor photography game to the next level?

If you want to shoot like a pro and get an inside look at how one of the greatest outdoor photographers around makes his magic, then this is the course for you. Celebrated photographer George Lepp shares some of his best-known photographs and describes the techniques and equipment needed to capture images of wild animals, beautiful flowers, and awesome landscapes.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Paint with high-powered flashlights during long exposures.

  • Use special techniques and post-processing software programs to extend your depth of field.

  • Take macro photography shots using special lenses and extension tubes.

  • Utilize tele extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots.

  • Use HDR to get natural looking contrast control.

  • Perform time-lapse photography with movement and panning.

  • Discover a variety of DSLR video shooting techniques.

Experienced photographers interested in exploring the intricacies of outdoor photography will love hearing George’s thrilling stories about his great outdoor and travel photography shoots all over the world like Africa and his close calls with wild animals. By the end of this course, you’ll be inspired to challenge yourself and experiment with these truly incredible techniques.


  • Experienced photographers who want to learn about cutting-edge equipment and innovative techniques for outdoor photography.

  • Photographers looking to be inspired by one of the greats and wanting to hear about his personal experiences.

  • Those who are new to outdoor photography and want an inside look at what it’s like to be a professional in the field.


George D. Lepp is one of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers. His passions for natural beauty, technical precision, cutting-edge technology, and environmental responsibility are revealed in his beautiful and compelling photographic images. He is also widely recognized for his unique dedication to sharing his photographic and biological knowledge with other photographers through his seminars, writing, and inventions. George Lepp is a leader in the rapidly advancing field of outdoor photography and digital imaging. 

Lepp’s images have appeared in some of the world’s most widely viewed venues and on the covers of many books and magazines, including Natural History, Car and Driver, PC Photo, and Outdoor Photographer; at prestigious galleries and museums throughout the United States; and at the corporate headquarters of Canon USA, Eastman Kodak, and Epson America. He was chosen by Canon USA as one of the first members of its Explorers of Light program, which features the industry’s most influential photographers. He is known both for his sweeping panoramas that capture the magnificence of exotic locations and his stunning high-magnification macro renditions of subjects such as snowflakes and butterfly wings. His stock and assignment photography is represented by Getty, Corbis, and Photo Researchers. 

Lepp is regularly read in popular photographic magazines; he has contributed for thirty years as a field editor and columnist to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and more recently has published technical articles in Europe’s c’t Digital Photography Magazine. He is the author of many books, including Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field, Golden Poppies of California, and Beyond the Basics I and II: Innovative Techniques for Outdoor and Nature Photography, as well as hundreds of articles on photography. He has taught at Photoshop World, Santa Fe Workshops, Palm Beach Workshops, and founded the Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging. Lepp is a founding board member and a fellow of the North American Nature Photographers Association and winner of many awards for his work, including Photo Media’s Photography Person of the Year and the prestigious Progress Award, the highest given by the Photographic Society of America. 

First trained in wildlife and wildlands management, George Lepp later earned a BPA and honorary MS in Professional Photography from Brooks Institute. Contact him through his web site, www.GeorgeLepp.com.


  1. Class Overview

    Get an overview of what you’ll learn in this course on creative outdoor photography, including how to do panoramas, extending your depth of field, and time-lapse photography.

  2. Types of Panorama for Outdoor Photography

    There are many different panorama techniques, from composite to hand-held to multi-camera. You’ll learn about all of them and the basic techniques for creating them right here.

  3. Gigapan and Action Pano for Outdoor Photography

    Learn to take a Gigapan panorama and get extremely big and detailed shots.

  4. Additional Lighting: Light Painting, Flash and Ambient

    George discusses options for additional outdoor photography lighting, including electronic flashes, the Better Beamer Flash Extender, and using high-powered flashlights to paint with light during long exposures.

  5. Extended Depth of Field

    Sometimes it’s important to have objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background all in sharp focus. Learn about various software programs and techniques to achieve extended depth of field photography.

  6. Macro Photography Techniques

    Learn about macro photography techniques, lenses, and extension tubes.

  7. Tele-extenders and Outdoor Photography

    Learn about using tele-extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots of things such as a butterfly’s wings.

  8. HDR as a Tool

    High dynamic range (HDR) allows you to take multiple exposures at once and achieve natural looking contrast control within your final image. George offers a variety of HDR photography tips.

  9. Time-lapse Outdoor Photography

    Learn how to shoot time lapse photography with movement and panning.

  10. DSLR HD Video

    Learn about DSLR video shooting techniques and the essential equipment you’ll need.

  11. Cinemagraphs for Outdoor Photography

    George talks about the cinemagraph for outdoor photography, which is a still image with an element that moves.

  12. Photographing Birds

    Digital photography allows you to take incredible shots of birds and their movements. Get some bird photography tips and learn about shutter speeds and the equipment you’ll need to take your best images.

  13. Photographing Mammals

    George discusses wildlife photography techniques and his experiences shooting mammals, including speedy cheetahs, angry elephants, and hungry hippos.

  14. Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A

    George offers some wildlife photography critiques and answers questions about his wildlife photography, including using a flash when taking pictures of birds and mammals.

  15. Macro Photography and Flowers

    George shares his flower photography techniques and confirms how he took glorious shots at Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.

  16. Photographing Butterflies

    Get some photo tips for photographing butterflies, including the importance of having a telephoto lens and a flash.

  17. Photographing Snowflakes

    Get the scoop on what you’ll need for snowflake macro photography, including special lighting, a copy stand, an adjustable base, and really cold equipment.

  18. Photographing Landscapes

    George offers some landscape photography tips for beginners and talks about some of his favorite places and landscape images.

  19. Photographing Lightning

    Learn how to photograph lightning and how to take video of lightning storms.

  20. HDR Landscapes and Time Lapse

    Learn about HDR landscape photography—compiling a series of pictures to capture various levels of light.

  21. Final Outdoor Photography Q&A

    Students get a chance to ask some final questions of George about outdoor photography ideas, including things such as panoramas, extenders, and white balance.



I watched the entire class, and found it to be a very negative experience - in contrast to all of my other experiences with Creative Live, which had been very good. The problem with this class was the instructor. Mr. Lepp, rather than giving us practical, useful information, and techniques for approaching the subject of Outdoor Photography, instead used his time to show off his seemingly endless array of incredibly expensive and cutting edge gadgetry. For the first half hour or so, Mr. Lepp seemed pleasant and interesting, but it quickly became apparent that this class was NOT about anything relating to the art of outdoor photography. Instead, it was basically a seminar highlighting exotic equipment for the 1%. I have well over $25,000 of photographic equipment, but the arena in which Mr. Lepp plays begins somewhere around the $100,000 mark, and then requires a staggering ongoing budget for chartering helicopters, hiring guides, and constant upgrades to remain on the bleeding edge of gadgetry and accessories. From his gyroscopic mounts to his 40" printer, Mr. Lepp has it ALL and continues to spend, spend, spend. I admire his deep pockets, but I would have appreciated some real insight and technique and useful knowledge on actually getting great shots. (And I must say... Mr. Lepp's work... did not impress me to the degree that other teachers on CreativeLive have.) I believe those giving positive reviews here were more or less wowed by the sheer magnitude of his extensive, well-funded travels and his off-handed way of revealing the endless contraptions and combinations of gear he uses. The passion here is clearly about the gadgetry, and NOT about finding an original and creative voice in the arena of outdoor photography.

R. Hetrick

Amazing class! I particularly loved the macro and how to correctly take panoramic photos sections. George was not only a great teacher but he was super funny too. Would be happy to take any of his future classes.


George really prepared a lot of information for his class. It is true, he does have a lot of expensive equipment and we may not be able to do some of the things he does with a smaller budget, but it is good incentive for us to plan for the future. He seemed to share new information constantly and stay focused and I was able to take a lot of notes. He talked about many kinds of equipment as well as software and websites he uses. I am pretty impressed that he is so up to date with recent technology. He especially loves macro/micro and stacking hundreds of images for minute focus on really large enlargements (for example, over 600 photos for one butterfly wing). That can get boring if you are not interested in doing that. I can take those tips and apply them to landscape photography though. I think it is more helpful for someone already doing outdoor photography and looking for new inspiration or new techniques as opposed to someone new to photography in general.