HDR often not necessary?

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joptimus Forum Member • Posts: 72
HDR often not necessary?
2

In previous years I often captured 3-5 images at different exposures to merge them to HDR later. Mostly, this is to avoid blown out highlights in the bright overcast sky. My camera is an Olympus E-M10 Mark II.

Lately when looking at the result again and trying to achieve the same result by developing a single image of these sets, it works remarkably well to my surprise. Especially with Lightroom luminance filters or some clever masking I'm able to do things I didn't think were possible with just one image.

How about you? How do you determine if exposure bracketing is really necessary?

Digital Nigel Forum Pro • Posts: 14,693
Re: HDR often not necessary?
5

joptimus wrote:

In previous years I often captured 3-5 images at different exposures to merge them to HDR later. Mostly, this is to avoid blown out highlights in the bright overcast sky. My camera is an Olympus E-M10 Mark II.

Lately when looking at the result again and trying to achieve the same result by developing a single image of these sets, it works remarkably well to my surprise. Especially with Lightroom luminance filters or some clever masking I'm able to do things I didn't think were possible with just one image.

How about you? How do you determine if exposure bracketing is really necessary?

I hardly ever use multi-shot HDR.  You can generally get what you need from a single raw image. If necessary, take bracketed raw shots, but just process one of them.

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OP joptimus Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: HDR often not necessary?

In some cases as the one below I struggle, though. Sure, the focus is not what's outside the room, but to have it massively overblown, bothers me. These are only smart previews, since I'm traveling and don't have the original RAWs with me. But it shows the dilemma. It's from 2018, so I don't remember exactly how I perceived it. Sometimes I want to show the image more than I could see, sometimes that's counterproductive.

But these motives are few and far between to be honest.
When I'm home, I'll upload the RAWs here and maybe one of you is able to get a good result and I learn something.

dj_paige
dj_paige Senior Member • Posts: 2,669
Re: HDR often not necessary?
1

joptimus wrote:

In previous years I often captured 3-5 images at different exposures to merge them to HDR later. Mostly, this is to avoid blown out highlights in the bright overcast sky. My camera is an Olympus E-M10 Mark II.

Lately when looking at the result again and trying to achieve the same result by developing a single image of these sets, it works remarkably well to my surprise. Especially with Lightroom luminance filters or some clever masking I'm able to do things I didn't think were possible with just one image.

This has been my experience as well.

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Graham Meale
Graham Meale Veteran Member • Posts: 3,571
Re: HDR often not necessary?
3

I don't often use it, as there's almost always enough dynamic range in raw. When I do I usually use a maximum of three shots. I read somewhere once that Photomatix works best with just two, and my experience bears this out. But quite often I find that bracketing two shots, layering and manipulating them manually without HDR software yields the best results. For example, I do this when I photograph the interior of a cathedral and want to reveal the dark interior as well as the stained glass windows.

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Pictus
Pictus Veteran Member • Posts: 6,542
Re: HDR often not necessary?

joptimus wrote:

But these motives are few and far between to be honest.
When I'm home, I'll upload the RAWs here and maybe one of you is able to get a good result and I learn something

Yes, RAW is the way.
SNS-HDR + Photoshop

md lucero Regular Member • Posts: 299
Re: HDR often not necessary?
2

This is often a problem in real estate photography. Some people would "expose" for the outside sunlight (which would underexpose the interior) then use a flash to "expose" for the interior. The result would be a properly (or near) exposed image for both inside and out with just one exposure.

Michael

Bobthearch
Bobthearch Forum Pro • Posts: 10,361
Re: HDR often not necessary?
2

I don't use HDR often, but collecting the bracketed shots gives you plenty of options for later.  Choose the best single exposure, merge into HDR, or even select portions from multiple using layers.

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brucet
brucet Veteran Member • Posts: 3,922
Re: HDR often not necessary?
2

I always take 3 shot brackets. I think my Nikon D7100 it actually rusted onto the setting!!!!

Card storage is cheap and the D7100 has two slots and throwing away shots you don't need is better than wishing you had the shot later. It also depends on what you are shooting. I like museums. Both indoor and outdoor ones. Light if often an issue.

But since I started taking brackets software has become much better at handling the dynamic range.

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Q-ball
Q-ball Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: HDR often not necessary?

brucet wrote:

I always take 3 shot brackets. I think my Nikon D7100 it actually rusted onto the setting!!!!

But aren't you then wearing out your camera much faster, at least in terms of expected shutter count?

The lifespan of your camera will probably be much less than 50% of that you could expect if you bracket only when you really, really need to.

Card storage is cheap and the D7100 has two slots and throwing away shots you don't need is better than wishing you had the shot later. It also depends on what you are shooting. I like museums. Both indoor and outdoor ones. Light if often an issue.

But since I started taking brackets software has become much better at handling the dynamic range.

brucet
brucet Veteran Member • Posts: 3,922
Re: HDR often not necessary?

Q-ball wrote:

brucet wrote:

I always take 3 shot brackets. I think my Nikon D7100 it actually rusted onto the setting!!!!

But aren't you then wearing out your camera much faster, at least in terms of expected shutter count?

Yeah maybe. But it could out live me!! I think I have about 60000+ clicks on the camera already. If it throws in the towel then I will have a good excuse for a new camera. Mirrorless I think!

I traveled a lot before covid. Lots of overseas trips. The camera took a bit of a beating while traveling. Including one fall of about 2 metres. So I guess shutter count doesn't worry me.

The lifespan of your camera will probably be much less than 50% of that you could expect if you bracket only when you really, really need to.

Card storage is cheap and the D7100 has two slots and throwing away shots you don't need is better than wishing you had the shot later. It also depends on what you are shooting. I like museums. Both indoor and outdoor ones. Light if often an issue.

But since I started taking brackets software has become much better at handling the dynamic range.

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Q-ball
Q-ball Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: HDR often not necessary? Yep, I agree :-)

joptimus wrote:

In some cases as the one below I struggle, though. Sure, the focus is not what's outside the room, but to have it massively overblown, bothers me. These are only smart previews, since I'm traveling and don't have the original RAWs with me. But it shows the dilemma. It's from 2018, so I don't remember exactly how I perceived it. Sometimes I want to show the image more than I could see, sometimes that's counterproductive.

But these motives are few and far between to be honest.
When I'm home, I'll upload the RAWs here and maybe one of you is able to get a good result and I learn something.

So far I have never had a need for actual HDR processing.

For example, the first image below is your 2 images blended together in Photoshop Elements' Photomerge Exposure. It's just a few simple clicks to merge.

The second image below is your above original jpeg exposed for the outside and opened in PSE's Adobe Camera Raw. I tweaked the shadows and highlights in ACR and exported a tif to do a quick pass through in both Topaz Denoise AI and Sharpen AI.

For me, both images below are very useable but I would need the original raw files to get the best out of the image data.

Anyway, hopefully just some food for thought.

Photoshop Elements - Photomerge Exposure

Original exposed for outside processed through PSE's ACR, Topaz Denoise AI, Topaz Sharpen AI

camfan1 Contributing Member • Posts: 894
Re: HDR often not necessary? A lot ...
1

I use HDR RAW (5 shots) a lot.

One type of HDR photography is using it instead of flash (inside dark churches, cathedrals, mosques ..)?

It really offers great results. You might get similar results using PS, I do realize this, but having multiple exposures of many scenes gets us other options too as other users here mentioned like picking the best shot regarding EV.

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Michael W00d Senior Member • Posts: 1,041
Re: HDR often not necessary?

I too am a regular user of HDR to overcome potential exposure problems when the scene has a wide range of illumination. Indeed I can access +/- 2 stops bracketing with a dedicated button on my camera. With proper processing the resultant images still look natural. Why take editing of a difficult scene to extremes when the camera itself can do a better job of capturing tones?

Obviously when the scene is dark, one needs a tripod, but in decent light I find that handheld shots still give excellent results. Using Affinity Photo HDR, motion blur can be pretty well eliminated provided the shutter speed is, say, at least 1/30 second for one of the contributory shots.

As for ‘camera wear’ caused by taking many HDR shots, as mentioned earlier, the issue pales to insignificance compared to the number of shots that a sports photographer will blast off at just one event.

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Q-ball
Q-ball Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: HDR often not necessary? A lot ...

camfan1 wrote:

I use HDR RAW (5 shots) a lot.

One type of HDR photography is using it instead of flash (inside dark churches, cathedrals, mosques ..)?

It really offers great results. You might get similar results using PS, I do realize this, but having multiple exposures of many scenes gets us other options too as other users here mentioned like picking the best shot regarding EV.

Yes that is totally true.  I was making the point that if you shoot raw and expose for the outside sunlight then all is not lost if, for whatever reason, you have time for just a single shot.

Most often than not, you can still get a useable photo.

Zeee Forum Pro • Posts: 23,013
Re: HDR often not necessary?

Personally I'm to that much into the HDR look especially if it is obvious it was used. While I enjoy work posted here by others I prefer just a slight kiss of HDR. However one of my B&W methods. Push HDR when the file is in colour to the point it you can see it was used and then convert to B&W. It brings out all sorts of tones and textures.

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Sebastian Nibisz New Member • Posts: 12
Re: HDR often not necessary?

joptimus wrote:

In some cases as the one below I struggle, though. Sure, the focus is not what's outside the room, but to have it massively overblown, bothers me. These are only smart previews, since I'm traveling and don't have the original RAWs with me. But it shows the dilemma. It's from 2018, so I don't remember exactly how I perceived it. Sometimes I want to show the image more than I could see, sometimes that's counterproductive.

But these motives are few and far between to be honest.
When I'm home, I'll upload the RAWs here and maybe one of you is able to get a good result and I learn something.

HDR allows to capture a wider tonal range and less noise. It is especially useful for real estate photography.

Processed in the SNS-HDR Pro.

Michael W00d Senior Member • Posts: 1,041
Re: HDR often not necessary?

Wow! The real Sebastian!

I have been using your HDR program for 10+ years because it delivers such 'normal'-looking results - no HDR extremes. It may not allow corrections for subject movement but for interior shots it is superb and my HDR program of choice.

Well done and, using that over-hacknied phrase, please keep up the good work.

Michael

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camfan1 Contributing Member • Posts: 894
Re: HDR often not necessary?

SNS HDR has become my favorite HDR program because it gets more out of the shadows, so to speak, than any similar program. The room is a perfect example, but also backlight photos and pictures in a very dark environment... Yes that sounds silly, but it means I can leave the flash at home (except for moving objects or people of course)

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AKoblentz Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: HDR often not necessary?

It's possible to increase the dynamic range using only profiles Lightroom/ACR or styles in C1

This sample is from the set "Capture One Pro Exteriors HDR styles"

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