Top 10 Common HDR Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Technology is growing tremendously globally in a wide range of areas. One of these main areas is photography. Technology has come up with a powerful and short camera technique that enables one to capture the maximum and perfect details in highly contrasted scenes by extending the dynamic range of the camera. This is what is referred to as high dynamic range photography, (HDR). Think of situations such as capturing a photograph of the cathedral church inside architecture; it will be difficult to do so without HDR. High dynamic range photography will enable you to capture and hold all the bright and dark areas image details maximally by extending the dynamic range. In sunsets where the sky appears to be brighter than the foreground, HDR can help to give great photography especially if you are not utilizing graduated neutral density (GND). This article goes through the HDR photography mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Building a Short HDR Sequence

Too short HDR sequence is a mistake that many photographers commit. Limiting yourself to capturing about three photos at a time such as negative one, zero and positive one gives you lesser exposure. You should set your HDR sequence to more than seven to allow your photos to cover a wider dynamic range. Be on the safe side by taking some extra shots.

2. Laziness

Laziness is one of the common mistakes in HDR photography. Most people tend not to shoot for HDR when capturing an extremely contrasted scene with an extended dynamic range. Reasons are either due to lack of know-how on how to use HDR or just being indolent. Shooting for HDR photography is easy. Today, the majority of the cameras and phone cameras come with integral HDR modes. Though these HDR modes are limited to only JPEG shooting, they are the best. Make sure you get to use them when taking photos on high contrast scenes. The difference between photos taken without and with active HDR modes is visibility. HDR mode produces more perfect photography. This makes them even more useful for entry-level compact cameras and camera phones as they have a smaller dynamic range and little sensors.
More particularly, camera phones can use dedicated apps to choose the brightest and darkest areas in the photography area manually to come up with classic HDR images. True HDR for iOS is one of the examples. One of the challenges in HDR photography is timing in situations such as sport and street scenes where you want to capture the moment. Otherwise, HDR is a perfect fit for architecture and landscape photography.

3. ISO Or Aperture Changing When Bracketing

HDR sequence means photography series shot with different exposure. Photography exposure is dependent on various factors including the shutter speed, ISO settings, and lens aperture. Changing the lens aperture variates the sequence field depth. Changing ISO will make images of varying dynamic range and noise. This means that changing the shutter speed is the perfect way to build an HDR sequence manually.

4. Being Out of Your Camera Control

HDR modes are more convenient while in camera. However, they capture a JPEG file that is tough to edit as compared to raw files. Instead of producing an in-camera HDR image, you should choose a capturing mode for HDR. This will enable you to take a rapid sequence of photos at different exposures. This is three to seven images in every 0.4EV, 0.7EV or one EV. Ensure that you take full control of your camera HDR sequence.

5. Overlooking Your Tripod

Image alignment is very crucial in producing high-quality photography. The final HDR image is created by combining different photographs. Preferably, there should be no camera or scene movement when taking an HDR sequence. HDR software’s have DE ghosting algorithms in used to recompense for scene movements while performing photo-alignment. However, many movements will affect the alignment negatively.

6. Using Autofocus

Autofocus is a mistake that you need to get rid of. When autofocus is on, your camera takes over the function of choosing where to focus. This means the focus can vary from one image to another in an HDR sequence. For consistency, ensure you lock the AF or use manual focus.

7. Image Flattening

Image flattening is a bad photography practice. This is done by lowering the amount of image contrast between the original dark and bright image areas. It produces an image that looks lesser natural, not attractive and hard to understand. Contrast is one of the major aspects of good photography, and you should hence retain it.

8. Over Processing

Over processed images represent HDR poorly. Most of the people however frequently do this mistake and overfills the internet with these over processed images. Do not overuse the HDR-dedicated software’s presets to over process your pictures. Use them to edit the images in a move to achieve a more natural and balanced look.

9. Halos

Halos act as an indicator of the overly processed image, especially on highly contrasted image edges. This is because of the immensely boosted clarity, overcooked looks, and contrast. These halos are characteristic of excess uploaded online images that are just not useful. Use a more moderate editing approach to create a quality image with no halos.

10. Black Clouds

Allowing clouds to go black on your photography is another frequent mistake. This is more common in capturing landscape photographs. An image with black clouds on a sunny evening is an example of errors you should not do when editing your HDR photos. Though they are real on rainy weathers, they are mostly white on bright days. Retain them that way in your HDR photography.


As stated above, there are many common HDR photography mistakes. You should be able to rectify most of these mistakes using this article as your guideline. Misusing of HDR has made many photographers view it as fake, grime, and strange photographic style. However, HDR photography is a Technic other than a style. It is a valuable and unique technique that will gradually enhance your photography. All you need to do is to take a step today, correct your mistakes and practice HDR photography to perfection.