What is the best way to capture images for HDR?


Scenes with average contrast such as an outdoor landscape shot in the daytime with both sunlight and shadows are easy to photograph for HDR, and are a great starting point!

This cheat sheet will get you up and running with bracketed photos for HDR editing.

Setting Up the Camera

Set the ISO as low as possible.
Set your camera to Aperture priority, and set the aperture for the scene, based on the depth of field you are trying to achieve or other considerations.

Set your camera to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) mode.

If you aren't familiar with setting AEB on your camera, check the Exposure Bracketing setup tutorials.

Canon 5D III
Nikon D700
AEB setup examples  [view more...]
Using the AEB options, set the Exposure Increment to +/- 2 EV if your camera supports it, or otherwise to the highest it supports.
Canon 7D
Nikon D700
Select the Continuous Shooting mode on the camera to allow you to shoot the entire bracketed set of exposures with a single press of the shutter.
Release the shutter to take the total number of images in the bracketed set.

More Details

Setting the ISO as low as you can while still maintaining a reasonable shutter speed will help ensure that your final image does not have a lot of noise in it. A nice clean image always looks so good!

It's crucial to use Aperture Priority so that the aperture does not change between bracketed shots. The focus needs to stay the same across all images to keep the merged HDR image sharp and well-aligned.

If you are shooting a high contrast scene such as a real estate intrerior with a bright window, please see this article.