Rise and Shine – A HDR Intro

Waking up in the back of my truck as first light starts to illuminate the day is an experience I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of, especially when you are greeted with scenes like this.

This particular morning I remember turning over and glancing towards the horizon thinking nice sunrise! Yet being as spoiled as I sometimes am I didn’t think much more of it at the time, put my head back down on the pillow fading back into snooze mode. Upon waking again I realized this wasn’t your average sunrise and I knew I could not let the opportunity to catch this beautiful light go. Light like this doesn’t last very long and I knew there was a very real possibility of ‘you snooze, you lose’.

Bursting out the back doors I desperately tried to get my tripod ready, my pants on and camera out of my bag all at the same time. As I was trying to find a good composition, I realized I had completely overlooked the fact that I desperately needed to go the toilet, but done my best job of holding it together before snapping more than just a couple of shots off.


Sunrises and sunsets would have to be one of the most photographed moments in the world, they produce and symbolize either the beginning or ending of another of our days.

So often a camera can not capture what your eye does. have you ever been inspired to capture a beautiful scene only to look at the photo later and think that was not how it was? The camera can not yet replicate in one exposure what your eye can see, so the best way to produce something closer to what you might be witnessing, in my opinion is exposure blending, luminosity masking or through HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. In short this means capturing a greater light range through multiple photos (in this case 3) and then combining them in one of the many software programs available (Lightroom, Photomatix, Photoshop etc).

In my earlier years, when i first discovered HDR, I often overdid the process and in hindsight feel I produced cheap looking, over manipulated ugly results that normally leave the viewer really impressed with a unique looking image or calling out the ever annoying ‘that has been photoshopped’ statement. Agghhh sigh. (Don’t get me started on that, otherwise the image quality might not be the only thing that gets ugly here. ha ha).

Many photography purists are completely against the HDR technique and you’d be amazed at the amount of hate that gets thrown around at people who choose to express themselves this way. Anyway, it is not my intention here to defend the post production of photos. I’m sure there are a million posts out there about ‘its not photography if you edit outside of the camera’, but is a movie any less of a movie if it has got Computer generated imaging in it? Anyway, I say just create what you like. Unless you are doing a shoot for a paying customer who requires a certain result, who cares what other people think?! If you like what your doing, do it. If people don’t like my work, that’s cool and they’re totally entitled to their shitty opinion. just joking, I just haven’t got time to hate on the haters, I’m too busy loving the lovers.


I know my final edit is far from perfect and I will probably look back at the image soon and think how poorly I edited it and see all the mistakes I made, but that’s o.k.  Hopefully you get to enjoy my growth as a photographer with me, because the day we stop learning is the day we die and I’m not dead yet.

My editing style is still evolving, in fact I’ve noticed it differs from day to day, hour to hour and even depends on what mood I’m in. I’m always reediting old photos as my knowledge expands.

Many everyday scenes may only require 1 exposure to capture the light range, but when dealing with sunsets and sunrises, 1 exposure will rarely capture the scene effectively. So I decided to include the 3 original, unedited raw files from which my feature HDR image was created and also an over processed HDR image, so you have some points of reference of what I’m talking about. I’ve tried to include something for everyone here, so you can decide what kind of image you like to look at. I hope also that this helps those aspiring artists out there to gain a basic understanding of what HDR photography is.

Cheers for reading dudes, remember it’s not about what others say, it’s about how you feel, so feel free to unapologetically create the art you like. They’re your images and you can do what you like to them, but please enjoy the process. 



1. An underexposed image to get the details in the sky and highlights. Here the foreground is much to dark and inaccurate. This image will be used for a properly exposed sky.


2. A normally exposed image which captures the mid tones, but does little justice to the sky or the foreground. Here you can see the sky is starting to get blown out, but we are starting to get some detail in the darker areas. This image is used for the reflection on the water and to bring balance between the under and over exposed images.


3. An over exposed image that more accurately shows what the eye would see in the foreground of the image. It has brought the shadows right out but has left the sky totally blown out and unrealistic. This image will obviously be used for the detail in grass and truck.

Rise and shine- A HDR intro

My choice of edited image. (at the time !!!)


Here’s a (in my opinion) poorly processed HDR image of the same scene. I am not saying that this is wrong, I just now prefer a toned down version. Remember it’s your art and how you like it is what’s right for you. Different strokes for different folks. Create what you love.

Rainbow Nights
Above Annapurna

Photo Blurb
Canon 7d ,
Canon 17-40mm f/4,
17mm ,
3 exposure blend -1/40 sec (-2) ,1/13 sec (0), 0.3 sec (+2) @ f/4
Iso 100

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By | February 21st, 2016|0 Comments

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