Tools to Capture HDR Better
Which brings me to the next section of what we're talking about here is things that you need to do. Once you meter your scene, you get everything all up and running, everything is framed, everything's nice, things that you are going to need, hands down, you're gonna need a tripod, haves to have a tripod. Because the over exposed, one stop, two stop, three stops of over exposure are gonna be longer and longer and longer. So keeping it steady is absolutely key. The second thing is not to touch the camera as you're doing things over and over and over. This kind of stuff will just mess up a shot, right? So instead, what I would recommend is that you use a cable release. Get a $14 trigger. Put it on it, hit the button, you don't have to touch the camera any more. If you forget your cable release like I often do, set a timer. More of the modern cameras now will allow you, if you have a bracket set, will allow you to shoot through the bracket with a timer. So if I press the button, I press it...
and I let it go, it'll go and shoot, one, two, three, four, five. Now if I come back over here and what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna hit the bracketing button and show it down, once I have it pressed down, you should be able to see that it is set to five frames of exposure. If I set it seven or nine, now the next time that I do that, (camera shutter clicking) it should go through five, six, seven, eight, nine. And it'll take care of all of that. And that's how you can get kind of that range of pictures that you need. Good so far? That covers the capture, it covers... Oh, probably one more thing on the capture that you should keep in mind. When you're shooting with your camera, you're shooting in program mode. P for professional, right? Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Program mode is a great mode for you to shoot except in HDR, right? Because there's a couple of different levers that you're working with in photography. You have shutter and you have aperture. Shutter dictates motion, aperture dictates depth of field, all right? So you need a series of pictures that are going to be static. And those pictures, as they are static, the one thing that you don't want to change is your depth of field, right? So if you set yourself up to, let's say, shutter priority and you shot a series of brackets, it's saying, I'm going to keep the shutter exactly the way I want it. I'm gonna keep it at 1/50 of a second and I'm gonna regulate my aperture to be able to make whatever you need happen. Which means that you'll see some of the pictures and they'll be out of focus, they'll be soft depth of field and as it goes higher, then you'll see pictures that are sharper. You don't want that. You want your depth of field to be on which is why you'd wanna shoot in aperture priority. So you pick your depth of field and then you vary the shutter. And then that will give you the pictures that you want.
So this isn't something that you can do in full manual mode?
You can set yourself up in manual mode. You will run into a ceiling when you do this. Alright, so we'll come back to this real quick and I'll show you what the ceiling is. Let's say that I'm gonna grab this thing and I'm gonna move this thing all the way down to 64, which is the lowest ISO. So one of the other reasons why I like this camera. So I'm gonna shoot ISO and I'm gonna move this thing all the way up to F16. Now, I probably have to trick it to do something else. But if I got to this one spot, let's see, I'm gonna shoot. Let's see what happens. Now there's no camera, like there's no card in it so I'm not really all that worried about it. But see, three seconds, six seconds. We're not gonna let you watch this but what's gonna happen is sometime, right because you're gonna get to the 30 second mark, right? Once you get to that 30 second, just forget about it, don't even pay attention to it. Once you get to the 30 second mark, your camera's not going to be able to shoot past 30 seconds. So if you have something where you're like, F22, you're outside at 100 ISO and you're looking at 10 seconds for a start. You're gonna hit the 30 second mark and then once you hit the 30 second mark then the next shot it's gonna take is 30 seconds. And the next shot that it's gonna take after that is 30 seconds. So you're not gonna be able to pass it. So yes, you could do it manually but why, right? You're better off letting the camera drive and get the scene kinda were you would want it and then having that change. Now what you could do is the other thing we were gonna talk about is metering, right? Most cameras have a meter mode. You can set your camera to meter what's called an average meter or you can have it do something called a spot meter. Your cameras will have it in one of these sections here. So they'll be like this section here, right in that one section, there's a button there for metering. So when you click on that... (camera shutter clicking) I know, shush. Turn it off, turn it back on. So this right here will tell you, how do you want to meter something? And you can change those different settings. You see the little dot? One little tiny dot right there. That's telling you, that part, right there, and then as it gets bigger, as it gets bigger, bigger square, little tiny square, little tiny dot. All that means is when you're metering, it tells the computer, focus on this one part right here. Just this. Don't look at anything else, look at that one little dot, that's the spot. Give me an exposure based on that one little spot. As you make the square bigger, alright well look at that spot but take into consideration what's happening here. As you make it bigger, what they tend to call matrix or average or any of that stuff, it says, alright, literally, I'm focusing on this one thing but yeah, if you see anything that's kind of crazy and in this area, please calculate it so that you don't mess up my picture. So rather than switch to manual, switch to spot. Get one of the biggest, brightest areas that you have, have that be a base or pick a mid tone, have that be a base and then measure from there. So, we had it on the list to cover so, may as well do it. Ah, yes, sir?
So with HDR, you're taking different exposures. So can you just do that with one picture and a camera RAW and make copies and make one lighter, one darker and so forth?
Okay, so that's a great question. That's a great question. Technically, when you're working with a RAW file. So lets just say that this is the file that we have, right? This is the middle exposure of the file that you have. You could, if you made separate files, you could invariably take this picture and this picture and have them be very different. I'm just gonna put all three of these pictures together. And you can this one and this one and this one to be able to make an HDR. The only problem with it is that RAW files are only going to have x amount of latitude. The RAW file itself will probably only really go a stop, a stop and a quarter in either direction before it starts to (breathy throat noises) before it start to fall apart. So while you technically could try to fake it and make regular JPEGs and try to put them together, the quality in which you get isn't going to be no where near as good as with you having the actual RAW files or JPEG files of information to have them merge together. The other thing that I think that's important here is my lily pad analogy. So we're getting to the process right now where we're gonna talk about how to be able to merge it and I think that the easiest thing for us to be able to do is to merge this right out of the bat inside of Lightroom. We'll deal with the realistic one first, right? Photoshop and Lightroom used to have a method where Photoshop used to have a method to merging HDRs which left a little something to be desired. It's was kinda, eh. It was alright. Now, they've recently added these new versions and I wanted to show you were they were and wanted to show you what they looked like because what they lack in the creative side of things they more than make up with on speed and performance. Which I think is really cool. But it also gets us talking a little bit about a couple of the other things you should keep in mind from a processing stand point. You'll notice that your results in the HDR file will be kind of a little bit hit or miss if you tend to jump too far away from your lily pad. Think of yourself as a frog, right? And imagine if you're going from one lily pad to another lily pad. And the lily pad is right here, and there's another lily pad right here. And the exposure range that you have from here to here is really big, alright? If you try to take a jump from one point to another point, chances are you're gonna break a hip, right? The range is too far away from that. So if I shot something that was four stops apart or five stops apart and I tried to able to merge in HDR, you're gonna hit the water, right? You're gonna hit the water and when you hit the water you're gonna see fringing, casting, noise, it's just gonna look like junk. Where as, if you were a frog and you had all these little tiny lily pads to go from one side to another side and they were really close together, you could hop from one side to the other side and have it be okay. And so the merging of all that information is a lot easier when it's a little bit closer together. You can thread it a lot better. Does that make more files? Yes, but again, the goal wasn't what picture can you make with as minimal resources as possible, the goal was, do you have a nice picture?