Most modern Cameras have gotten quite far in terms of Dynamic Range. But sometimes, it definitely is not enough.
That is when you can go back and do some HDR – or High Dynamic Range – Photography. For that, you usually take multiple Fotos at different Exposure Levels.
But to understand HDR, a basic Understanding of Dynamic Range is helpful. So here we go.
Dynamic Range is the Difference between the Lightest and the Darkest Area in a Foto that can still be shown without those becoming totally Black or totally White.
Most Cameras nowadays support around 12-14 Stops of Dynamic Range, but that is still way less than the Human Eye can see.
A great Example for a HDR Situation is Sunset Photography. If you Expose for the Sunset, the Scenery is completely Underexposed. When you go the other Way, the Sky is completely Blown Out.
Neither of those two Options look really good. And that is where AEB – or Auto Exposure Bracketing – comes into play.
I usually have my Camera set to Aperture Priority with Center-Weighed Average Metering.
When I then go ahead and enable AEB, my Camera shoots three, or more, Exposures at pre-defined Exposure Steps.
One of the Fotos is correctly Exposed, and the other two are either Over- or Underexposed by the Amount of Stops AEB is set up to do. I usually go for 1 or 1 1/3 Stops.
That generally gets me the Results that I am going for.
To combine those multiple Exposures into one HDR Fotos, I then import those Files into my Editing Suite of Choice. I personally use Lightroom for that.
To Merge the Fotos, I select them and then go ahead and hit Control + H. Lightroom then puts together the Fotos and chooses the best exposed Bits to create the HDR.
In Theory, two Fotos would be enough, but I prefer to use three. One for the Shadows, one for the Highlights and one for the Mid-Tones. Depending on the Situation, more single Exposures might be adequate though.
HDR are used to make it easier to Capture challenging Lighting Situations. And they work great for that.
But off Course, there are also Limitations. Moving Subjects for example are not very well suited for Multi-Exposure Blending like it is done for HDR Photography.
Personally, I rarely use this Method. But when I do, I have my Reasons. And then I am usually happy with what I am able to get.