HDR Photography Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)!

Here you will find all of our HDR photography frequently asked questions (FAQ's), on all aspects of HDR Photography, from how to reduce ghosting effects, to how to reduce noise in HDR photos/images. HDR photography is relatively new, and people are just finding out about HDR images, so there are lot's of questions on photographers minds, on HDR photos.



We will constantly add new FAQ's, so make sure you come back again, or sign up for our RSS feed so you can be notified when we add new HDR photo FAQ's. If you have a question that you don't see listed, please use the comments form below and ask us your question and we will be sure to get back to you with a response.



Thank you for stopping by our website and we hope you contribute to this website with your questions, and comments and HDR photo tips. Take care, and come back again soon.

HDR Photography Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)!

Best free photo editor software program for hdr photos?

Best aperture setting for hdr images?

Best noise reduction for hdr images?

Best programs to enhance hdr?

Best scenes for hdr images?

Best way to take hdr pictures of cars?

Bracketed image samples for hdr photography?

Create HDR image from one photo?

HDR cloud tips?

HDR with Corel Paintshop Pro Photo?

Creating hdr images by manually focusing a camera?

Great cameras for hdr images?

How to use your cameras exposure histogram graph for HDR Images?

HDR ghosting effect and how to reduce it?

Handheld hdr tips?

HDR ISO setting/ISO setting for HDR photos?

Auto focus settings for HDR photos?

What is the best software program for making hdr images?

How do I make the sky look like it is moving fast in HDR images?/How to create hdr images that move?

How do I get clear and sharp HDR images?/How to eliminate blurry HDR images?

How to keep a blue sky in hdr images?/How to make the sky blue in HDR images?

How to create high contrast cloud photos?/How to make crazy contrast hdr?

HDR photography tips for action HDR photos?

HDR photography with skin or faces in HDR images?

HDR photo tips for sunsets?

High Dynamic Range(HDR) for black and white images?

Best free photo editor software program for hdr photos?

If you are looking for some free HDR photo software, here are some that I know of, but haven't used myself. Since they are free, they are worth trying out, but you will probably end up buying a good one like Photomatix, so checkout our Photomatix HDR Photography Software Program Page

Qtpfsgui

Picturenaut

FDRtools Basic

Essential HDR Community Edition



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Best aperture setting for hdr images?

The best aperture setting for hdr can vary just like normal photography, it just depends how much depth-of-field you want in your photos. I normally want everything to be sharp in my landscape HDR images, so I would set my aperture to a larger number like F11 or larger. If you want only something in the foreground to be in focus then set your aperture to a small value like F2.8 or so. It also depends if you are taking handheld hdr photos, then you want your shutter speed to be faster, so your aperture setting should be smaller like F2.8. If you have a tripod, then you can have slower shutter speeds and larger aperture values like F11 to F22.



To get some great information on aperture settings, which can be confusing, please check out these great tips on aperture settings, Small Aperture Digital Photography Tip, and Large Aperture Digital Photography Tip.



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Best noise reduction for hdr images?

Noise in HDR images is a real problem, because the hdr imaging software enhances every detail, so that means noise gets enhanced also.



Ways to reduce noise in HDR images is to shoot the hdr photos at the lowest ISO setting like ISO 100 or lower if possible, shoot the HDR images in RAW which is the highest quality setting on digital cameras, and use the "Micro-smoothing" adjustment under Miscellaneous Settings in Photomatix Pro Details Enhancer to reduce the noise. One more way is to use your photo editing software like Photoshop or Corel Paintshop Pro to soften or blur out the noise, which is usually most visible in the sky portion of HDR images.



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Best programs to enhance hdr?

The best programs to enhance HDR images would probably be Photoshop or Corel Paintshop Pro, but you can use any good photo editing software to enhance your HDR images.



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Best scenes for hdr images?

The best scenes for HDR photography are usually high contrast scenes, because in normal photography a high contrast scene will have blown out highlights or muddy black shadows, so HDR photography helps to corret them issues.



Also still life scenes are normally the best for HDR photography also, because with scenes with moving objects, you will usually have lots of ghosting effects when you create the HDR image.



Scenes with some great clouds are also very good for HDR photos. Most great HDR images of scenes have awesome looking clouds. Awesome clouds make a boring scene into a great scene in HDR photography.



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Best way to take hdr pictures of cars?

The best way to take hdr pictures of cars is to use a wide angle lens and then get up close to the car with some great clouds in the sky or cool buildings in the background.



Take hdr photos of cars at unique angles, like close up to the tires, or the frontend. Check out more awesome HDR images of cars at our sister website www.hdr1.com.



Hdr photography photo image red dodge viper srt-10 convertible muscle cars

Hdr photography of an awesome red Dodge Viper SRT-10 convertible.



If you want a hdr image of a moving car, it is best to take the hdr photos in RAW format, then you can create a hdr image using just one hdr photo, which will eliminate ghosting effects and the hdr image will be sharper, because it would be very difficult for the HDR imaging software to align the images when the car is moving and the camera is moving.



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Bracketed image samples for hdr photography?

Here is an example of HDR multiple exposures combined to make one awesome HDR image.

animated gif hdr image multiple exposures hergiswil switzerland mount pilatu hdr photo

This slideshow shows the exciting results of making a HDR image from 3 or more images with different exposure values. The first photo is the normal average exposure of the scene to get detail in the mountain. The second photo is -2 Exposure Compensation to get detail in the bright sky. The third photo is +2 Exposure Compensation to get detail in the shadow areas on the bottom of the mountain. And the forth and final photo is the HDR photo of all three photos combined to get detail in all areas of the photo and to increase the color saturation.



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Create hdr image from one photo?

To create a HDR image from one photo, you have a few options.



You can take the hdr photo in RAW format which will allow you to create an HDR image in Photomatix Pro.



You can take one hdr photo and then in your photo editing software create two more exposures, one underexposed to get detail in the highlights and one overexposed to get detail in the shadows, and then use Photomatix Pro to create the HDR image with the three photos.



Or you can use your photo editing software like Photoshop or Corel Paintshop Pro, and create a high dynamic range image from one hdr image like the fellow in this YouTube video.



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HDR cloud tips?

The best clouds for HDR photography seem to be scattered high clouds, or large fluffy scattered clouds. It is usually better to have some breaks in the clouds, rather than have heavy cloud cover. If it is just heavy thick dense clouds, they aren't the best, but they will still look better in HDR photography than just clear blue sky.



So really any clouds work well in HDR photography, if you like the scene and there are some nice clouds, take some photos and create a HDR image from it, you might be surprised how great the clouds look, and you will be glad you took the photos.



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HDR with Corel Paintshop Pro Photo?

With the newest version of Corel Paintshop Pro Photo X2, you get HDR photo merge built into the program. I have used this in the free trial and it worked fine, but didn't have very many adjustments and didn't produce very spectacular HDR images like Photomatix. Corel produced more subdued HDR images that looked more like normal photos, which some people might prefer, but you can do that in Photomatix Pro if you want to also, but if you want to create more dramatic HDR images, then Photomatix Pro does a better job.



If you have an earlier version of Corel Paintshop Pro Photo like me, and don't want to upgrade right now, like me, then you can create your own HDR image with one photo using the HDR technique shown in the YouTube video above.



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Creating hdr images by manually focusing a camera?

creating hdr images by manually focusing a camera is a good way of taking hdr photos. As long as you know the most important area of the photo is in focus, then there is nothing wrong with manually focusing your camera. It is actually a good idea, because then you know the focus area won't change between HDR photos. If the camera is in autofocus, the camera might accidentally refocus between hdr photos, causing some of your hdr photos to have different focus areas, which will result in less sharp HDR images.



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Great cameras for hdr images?

There are some features and specifications that digital cameras can have, which make them great cameras for HDR images.



We have these features and specifications listed on our sister website www.hdr1.com, if you would like to read more about them, but here is a quick list of good HDR features and specs to have in your HDR camera.



1) The ability to set the camera to aperture priority or manual, 2) The ability to automatically capture bracketed photos, 3) The ability to shoot continuous photos, 4) The ability to shoot HDR images in RAW format, 5) Low digital noise, 6) Manual focus or One-shot focus, 7) A fast digital camera, 8) Camera histogram graph.



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How to use your cameras exposure histogram graph for HDR Images?

Many people don't know how to use their cameras histogram graph to help them take photos. By using your cameras histogram graph you can tell if the scene is good for HDR photography. If the average exposure for a scene shows high spikes on the far left or right of the histogram graph, then that means you are losing detail in the shadows or highlights.



If the spike is on the left then you are losing detail in the shadows and if the spike is on the right side of the histogram graph then you are losing detail in the highlights. This should make for a good HDR photo, because you can then bracket exposures to get a good balance of peaks across the whole histogram and get details in the highlights and shadows.



To read this HDR photography tip and all our other HDR photo tips, please check out our HDR Photography Tips Page.

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HDR ghosting effect and how to reduce it?

HDR ghosting effect is not one of the better things about HDR photography. It is caused by movement of the subjects in the hdr image or by camera movement. When something in the hdr image moves or your camera moves, that causes the subjects to be in different parts of each hdr image, and when the hdr software tries to align the images, it can't align the moving subjects, so the movement is seen as ghosting effects in hdr images.



The ways to reduce ghosting effects in hdr images is to limit movement, either of the subjects or parts of the images like trees, cars, people, or use a tripod to eliminate camera movements. You could also use longer exposure times for people and car movements to totally blur them out so they basically disappear from you images. Exposures times like a few seconds or more would blur out most moving objects.



Other ways to reduce ghosting is to use one RAW image with a fast shutter speed to freeze all motion, and then use Photomatix Pro to create the HDR image from that one hdr photo. Or if you don't have a RAW format image, use a normal Jpeg and create your hdr image similar to the way the guy did it in the video above.



One other way to clean up ghosting effects after the HDR image is created is by using one of original hdr images and overlaying parts of the original image onto the hdr image or by cloning out the ghosting effect in your hdr image like the guy mentioned in this HDR tutorial video below.



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Handheld hdr tips?

HDR photography is all about combining 2 or more images together to get good detail in all areas of a scene. Since you are combining 2, 3, 4, or 5 hdr images together with hdr photography software, you will get much better results if all the images are perfectly aligned together. The best way to do that is to use a sturdy tripod, but if you don't have a tripod handy, it is possible to good results with just handheld hdr photos.



Many of our HDR images were handheld, so if you don't have a tripod it is possible to get good handheld HDR images. There are some handheld hdr tips that will help you get good handheld hdr images, so that's what we will write about in the next paragraphs.



The first handheld hdr image tip would be to use a fast camera, one that can take 5 FPS(frames per second) or more. This will allow you to take 2 or 3 or more hdr images very quickly which will reduce movement between each hdr image. When you have movement between hdr images, you will get more ghosting and chromatic aberrations effects, which you don't want in your hdr images.



The second handheld hdr image tip would be to use a fast shutter speed. This is for the same reason as the first handheld hdr tip, to quickly take the hdr photos to reduce movement between hdr photos. I would say use a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second or faster.



The third handheld hdr tip would be to set your camera to take continuous hdr photos. This is so when you hold the shutter button down, the camera will automatically take all bracketed images continously without stopping, which will help reduce movement between hdr images. If you don't set your camera to shoot continuous photos, then you will have to hit the shutter button between each photo, which will increase camera movement between images.



The fourth handheld hdr tip would be to rest or support your hands or the camera on or against something like a telephone pole, wall, or fence, which will again help reduce camera movement and movement between hdr images.



The fifth handheld hdr tip would be to use a camera or lense with image stabilisation or vibration reduction built into it. So far I only have one Canon lense with image stabilisation and it is a really nice feature and really helps reduce camera movement in photos.



That's all the handheld hdr tips that we have for now, if you have any tips you would like to share please let us know with the form below, thanks.



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HDR ISO setting/ISO setting for HDR photos?

The best ISO setting for HDR photography is your cameras lowest ISO setting, typically like ISO 100, but some have lower ISO settings like 50, which you should use if you can. A big problem in HDR photography is digital noise, so the lower the ISO setting is the less digital noise you will have. Higher ISO settings produce more digital noise, like ISO 800 or 1600, but new digital cameras are getting better and better at reducing digital noise so that should really help HDR photography.



Lower ISO settings like 50 or 100 will mean slower shutter speeds so watch out for blurry hdr images if you are taking handheld hdr images. It is always best to use a tripod so then your shutter speeds can be as slow as you want them to be, and your aperture can be as small as you want it to be for great depth of field, without worrying about blurry photos.



If you need to use a higher ISO setting like 400 or 800 because you are taking handheld hdr images and need a faster shutter speed, then you can reduce the digital noise in your hdr images with Photomatic Pro. In the "Details Enhancer" part of Photomatix Pro, go to "Miscellaneous Settings" and increase the "Micro-Smoothing" setting to a point that you feel comfortable with. I usually keep the Micro Smoothing setting somewhere around 2 to 5.



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Auto focus settings for HDR photos?

I usually take my hdr images with my Canon camera set on "One Shot" autofocus and NOT continuous autofocus. With one shot autofocus the camera only focuses when your finger first presses down the shutter button to focus the lense, and will not focus again as long as you hold the button slightly down. With continuous autofocus the camera will constantly try to refocus when you hold you finger on the shutter button.



This continuous autofocusing could cause your hdr images to have different focus points, which will make your hdr images less sharp. Its best to set your autofocus to one shot, so you can focus on your main subject and as long as your finger stays on the shutter button for the 2 or more hdr images, you will know that each hdr image will have the same focus point.



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What is the best software program for making hdr images?

Currently the best HDR imaging software program is Photomatix Pro. That is what we have used for all of our HDR images and what most other serious HDR photographers use. It has many adjustments to help you fine tune your hdr images, and once you buy the program you get free updates whenever they make improvements or add new features to Photomatix Pro.



If you would like to read more about Photomatix Pro or buy a copy for yourself, please checkout our Photomatix HDR Photography Software Program Page.



If you are looking to buy a copy of Photomatix Pro and create your own awesome HDR images, we would really appreciate it, if you bought your copy of Photomatix Pro from this website, to help support www.free-digital-photography-tips.com and help keep this website on the internet and keep it growing. Thank you.



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How do I make the sky look like it is moving fast in HDR images?/How to create hdr images that move?

Right now I can think of two ways to make the sky look like it is moving fast in HDR images.



The first method would be to use a long exposure when you are taking your HDR images, so that the movement of the clouds will be blurred, which will make them look like they are moving fast in your HDR images. I would say to use a shutter speed of about 5 to 10 seconds, but it depends on how fast the clouds are actually moving in real life, and how much blur you want in the clouds. Long exposure times will also make other parts of the scene look like they are moving, because of the blurry streak left behind from people walking, moving cars and boats and other moving objects. Just experiment with different shutter speeds until you get one that you like.



The second method would be to create the HDR image and then use your favorite photo editing software to add radial zoom blur to the clouds to make them look like they are moving fast in your HDR images. We will be posting photo examples of this and a HDR tutorial, so make sure you bookmark our website or sign up for our RSS feed to keep up with our new additions.



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How do I get clear and sharp HDR images?/How to eliminate blurry HDR images?

To get clear and sharp HDR images there are a few things you can do. Nobody likes blurry photos and in HDR photography blurry images are more of a problem because you are combining 2 or more images together, so if they aren't aligned perfectly, it will make your HDR images blurry.



The first HDR tip to get clear and sharp images is to use a tripod. If your tripod is sturdy and not shaking in the wind, it will ensure that all your bracketed HDR images are perfectly aligned immediately, so then the HDR software will have a much easier time aligning the images. Using a tripod also lets you be more creative with long exposure times and smaller apertures for more depth of field, which is our next tip.



The second HDR tip to get clear and sharp HDR images is to use a small aperture setting like F16 or F22. This will give you maximum depth of field which will ensure that all parts of the scene are in sharp focus. Then it is probably best to focus on something in the scene that is in the middle of the depth of field, not the closet thing to you or the furthest thing from you but in the middle.



The third HDR tip to get clear and sharp images is to use "one shot" spot autofocus or manaul focus. If you use spot focus, then you can pick the specific spot in the scene to focus on and then with "one shot" autofocus and NOT continuous autofocus, the camera will only focus once when you first hold down the shutter button and will take all bracketed photos with the same focus area. If you have it on continuous focus the camera will continually try to focus even between bracketed photos, which might change the focus area of each bracketed photo.



A fourth HDR tip to get clear and sharp hdr images if you are taking handheld photos, is to use a fast camera and fast shutter speed. A fast camera which can take something like 5 frames per second with a fast shutter speed like 1/250th of a second or faster will help to quickly take all the bracketed photos which will help reduce camera movement and less movement between bracketed photos.



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How to keep a blue sky in hdr images?/How to make the sky blue in HDR images?

I only use Photomatix Pro to create my HDR images, so I can only write about that HDR software program and how to do stuff with it to create cool HDR images.



So to keep a blue sky in hdr images from Photomatix Pro I would say the main adjustment would be in the "Details Enhancer" under "Color Settings" and then adjust the "Temperature". With the pointer all the way left at -10 you will get the most blue in your hdr image and in the sky, but it probably won't look too good. Most of the time if the sky is blue in the regular photos, having the "Temperature" pointer at "0.0" will give you a natural looking blue sky. Moving the pointer to the right in the positive numbers will give your HDR image a more warm orangish sunset looking image.



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How to create high contrast cloud photos?/How to make crazy contrast hdr?

Well of course because this is a website all about HDR photography, I think the best way to create high contrast clouds is with HDR (high dynamic range) imaging software like Photomatix Pro.



With HDR imaging software you can create some awesome looking high contrast clouds, which is what usually makes HDR images look so amazing. In the following paragraph we will give you some key settings that will give you great looking high contrast clouds in Photomatix Pro.



After you pick your images and hit "Generate HDR" and then "Tone Mapping", under the heading "Details Enhancer" make sure the "Strength" is set to "100", "Luminosity" is usually best at "10.0", "Microcontrast" is set to "10.0", "Smoothing" set to "Mid", then under "Miscellaneous Settings" set all 4 settings to "0".



I think them are the key settings in Photomatix Pro to get high contrast clouds, but of course they won't work with every HDR image, you will still have to try other settings to find the ones that work best for your specific HDR photo.



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HDR photography tips for action HDR photos?

HDR photography was mainly created for still life landscape scenes, but you can make HDR images out of action photos if you really want to. HDR photography is usually created by taking 2 or more photos of a scene and then combining the photos to get good exposure and detail in all areas of a scene. This is usually done with as little movement in the scene as possible to be able to align all the images perfectly to create one HDR image.



With action photos, there will be lot's of movement in the photos, so if you tried to take 2 or more photos of an action scene, and then tried to combine them, all the parts of the scene that moved between each photo, won't align together in the final HDR image. You will then get ghosting and chromatic aberrations from these moving objects which won't look good in the final HDR image, unless you did alot of work after cloning out the ghosting and other motion effects.



Probably the best way to create an action HDR image, is from one photo, and you have a few options described in the next paragraphs.



You can take the action hdr photo in RAW format which will allow you to create an HDR image in Photomatix Pro from this one RAW photo.



Another method is to take one hdr RAW format photo and then in your photo editing software create two more exposures, one underexposed to get detail in the highlights and one overexposed to get detail in the shadows, and then use Photomatix Pro to create the HDR image with the three photos.



Or you can use your photo editing software like Photoshop or Corel Paintshop Pro, and create a high dynamic range image from one hdr image like the fellow in this YouTube video.



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HDR photography with skin or faces in HDR images?

Having people in your HDR photos as part of the main subject usually isn't a good idea, from what I have seen, but it depends who the subject is and what their skin color is and how much HDR effect you want in the photo. If you do take HDR photos of people, they have to stay completely still and don't blink their eyes, or there will be ghosting effects, etc.



Also, the HDR effects that look cool in a scenic photo, isn't very good looking on people. Skin color also is affected, so it won't look natural, which most of the time you want the people in your photos to have a natural skin color to them. The best thing to do is take your HDR photos of the scene and then add the people in later like the HDR photo of my wife and I on our about us page.. You then have a great HDR background and properly exposed natural looking people in the foreground.



On the other hand I have recently seen some cool looking HDR photos of people. Usually the ones that look good are of old wrinkled people, mainly old guys, because the HDR effect will usually make their face look dirty, so if it is an old farmer, then the HDR effect will look great. If you create an HDR of a beautiful woman or cute little baby, then the HDR effect probably won't be real pleasing, but try it out, see what happens. Next we will give some Photomatix Pro "Details Enhancer" settings to get more natural looking skin in your HDR images, if that is what you are looking for.



To get more natural looking skin in your HDR images, try these settings. After you pick your images and hit "Generate HDR" and then "Tone Mapping", under the heading "Details Enhancer" set the "Color Saturation" to about "50", if it is higher skin or faces look too orange. "Microcontrast" is best set to "-10.0", "Smoothing" set to "Max", under "Tone Settings" try "White Point" to "1.889%", "Black Point" stays at "0.000%", "Gamma" at "1.49", under "Color Settings" keep all settings at 0.0, then under "Miscellaneous Settings" set "Micro-smoothing" to "15" or higher and keep the three other settings to "0".



I think them are the key settings in Photomatix Pro to get natural looking skin and faces, but of course they won't work with every HDR image, you will still have to try other settings to find the ones that work best for your specific HDR photo. To get more natural skin and faces in HDR images, you could also use the "Exposure Fusion" feature in Photomatix Pro, this feature is great for getting the benefits of HDR images, like detail in all areas, but it still keeps the image natural looking like a normal photo, if that is what you are looking for.



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HDR photo tips for sunsets?

I don't really have any great HDR photo tips for sunsets, I have tried different sunsets and all need a little different settings. Sometimes a strong HDR effect will work and other times it won't so you just have to try different settings until you find something you like. You do have to watch your "Color Saturation" setting though, since sunsets are already very orange, you don't have to increase the color saturation very much.



If you have some Photomatix Pro settings that you think are important for HDR sunset photos, and want to share them with others, please email them to us with the form below and we will add them to this HDR photography FAQ. Thanks.



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High Dynamic Range(HDR) for black and white images?

What I have found with black and white HDR images, is you can create them by using your color photos to create the HDR image and then in your photo editing software, convert them to black and white. What makes for great color HDR images also makes black and white HDR images awesome also.



I have converted many of my color HDR images to black and white and I really like how they look. Checkout our sister HDR photography websites black and white HDR photography page, www.hdr1.com, and let me know what you think and if you have any tips you would like to share. Thanks.



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