The basic point of HDR photography is to expand the range of color and detail in digital photographaphy. No matter how good your digital camera is, it won't be able to capture all the details and colors of what you're photographing. 

HDR begins with taking three digital photographs. One correctly exposed, one over-exposed, and one under-exposed. Over-exposing a photograph allows the details in the darker portions of the photograph to be captured and under-exposing allows the highlights to be captured with more detail. The three photographs are combined with HDR imaging software into a single image showing the details from each exposure range. You end up with a digital image showing what isn't normaly possible. HDR images can then be further processed with normal digital image editing software.

Shooting three digital images obviously requires a tripod and a motionless subject. If the subject is moving, you can take a single image and adjust the exposure in editing software, but the effect of HDR will not be as vivid as it could be with three separate photographs.

The best HDR photographs are highly detailed subjects with high contrasts.  Most of the HDR images you see are dramatically distorted, but HDR images can create very natural appearing  digital images as well.

When shooting for HDR images with your DSLR, be sure to always shoot in aperture priority and in RAW format.

The digital photograph below is what the camera metered for a good average exposure. This is a good setting for an HDR image because there are both a lot of dark areas and bright areas where the range of the DSLR's sensor wasn't capable of capturing all of the color and details.

The auto bracketing feature  was turned on to take the next exposure two stops away from the original. In this underexposed image the sensor was able to capture some of the deeper colors and details in the bright sky.

In the next over-exposed image the camera was able to capture the details and color in the darker areas of the image such as in the sand and the hair. 

This is the final HDR image produced by combining the three photographs of varying exposures. Everything in the image is bright, colorful, and detailed. Photomatix Pro was the software used to create this image. They offer a free version for download which leaves a watermark as you see in this image. 

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