HDR How To: Working with camera – Take HDR photos (Easy!)

This is the 2nd article in the Easy HDR tutorial series:

Thames River (Ontario) in HDR

Thames River (Ontario) in HDR

HDR photography sure looks impressive, but to make one might be easier than you think. You only need to have 3 photos of the same scene with different brightness (exposure value), and then combine the 3 using HDR software to create the final HDR-style image.

In here, I’ll show you, step by step, how to take a photo set (3 photos of different brightness) for creating an HDR image.

In addition to the steps, I’ll give you my Lympy’s note! That is… notes of how I do it exactly in my own camera that is named Lympy (an Olympus PEN E-PL2, Micro Four Thirds).

You’ll need:

  • Camera with bracketing mode
  • Optional:
    • Tripod/gorillapod. But don’t worry, steady hand is good enough.
    • Your camera’s instruction manual booklet

Let’s start!

Taking the right photo set for HDR

Target: 3 Photos of different brightness


1. Grab your camera (and the manual too if you like

2. Go to the exposure bracketing mode (er, huh?) – I told you to grab your manual, didn’t I. Find the exposure bracketing mode.

Lympy’s note: Menu > Camera setting (2nd) > BRACKETING > AE BKT

3. Choose 3 shots with 1 exposure value (EV) increment.

Lympy’s note: Choose 3F 1.0EV

4. Optional: If your camera has image stabilizer, turn that on too.

Lympy’s note: Menu > Camera setting (2nd) > IMAGE STABILIZER > I.S. 1

5. Turn on the sequential/multiple shots function – so when you press and hold the shutter button, it will take multiple pictures – the 3 photos for your HDR set.


1. Now, go outside and find your target. Possibly, a scenery that has extreme brightness (lit up sky in a sunny day) and extreme darkness (shadowy area)

2. If you have tripod/gorrilapod, go ahead use them. Don’t worry if not, CS5 has auto-align function that will fix this.

3. Switch your camera to Aperture Priority mode (A)

In this mode, ISO number and aperture (F-number) will stay the same, while shutter speed (exposure time) will be varied.

Note: You don’t want to vary the F-number because it will make each photo focused differently (have different depth of field)

4. Set the ISO number in something low like 100 to 200. Anything lowest that works. Higher ISO number means grainier photo.

5. Set the F number to something good for outdoor like 8 to 11

6. Take your shots!! Press and hold the shutter button until you hear 3 clicks (3 photo taking)

Exposure bracketed shots for Thames River (Ontario)

Exposure bracketed shots with ISO 200 and F/7.1. Exposure time 1/1250 sec (EV -1), 1/640 sec (normal), 1/320 sec (EV +1)


1. Check the 3 photos you are just taking. You’ll see the 3 photos with 3 different brightness: normal, dark (under-exposed), and bright (over-exposed). If there’s too much movements of your objects in the 3 photos (running kiddos, for example), you might wish to take another set.

2. You are done! Or, when you are out, why don’t take more sets of photos?


  • Try exposure bracketing for 5 shots with 1 increment. You’ll get 2 under-exposed shots (-1 and -2 EV), normal, and 2 over exposed shots (+1 and +2 EV). Now you have more extreme under and over-exposed shots to work with (+2 and -2 EV), just in case their colors and details are more preferable than the +1 and -1 EV ones. You just need to play it around later on using HDR software.
    • Lympy’s note: Choose 5F 1.0EV
Exposure bracketed shots for Thames River (Ontario)

Exposure bracketed shots with ISO 200 and F/7.1. Exposure time 1/2500 sec (EV -2), 1/1250 sec (EV -1), 1/640 sec (normal), 1/320 sec (EV +1), 1/160 sec (EV +2)

NEXT STEP: How to create HDR photos using Photoshop CS5

Also check out my HDR galleries here!

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