Shooting Challenge: HDR Photography

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: HDR Photography

HDR. It used to be a photographic technique reserved for those fluent in Photoshop. Now, it's a go-to filter in every point-and-shoot and app. For this week's Shooting Challenge, we'll celebrate this democratization of the art form and all shoot in high dynamic range.

The Challenge

Take a photo in HDR (high dynamic range). Need some inspiration or visual explanation? Check out the results of our last HDR challenge.


The Technique

So what is HDR? Essentially, it's a method to capture multiple exposures of the same image—sometimes a couple and sometimes many—then to smash together the brightest of the overexposed image with the darkest of the underexposed image to create either a more lifelike or totally eye-melting image.

Years ago, Gizmodo penned a fantastic tutorial on HDR. Today, you can create an HDR photograph through almost any photography app and many point-and-shoot cameras. Take whichever path you prefer.


The Example

Our lead image is by flickr's Emile Victor. See how the beetle just glows off your screen? That's the subtle power of HDR.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a natively sized image in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, March 10th at 9AM Eastern to with "HDR" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameHDR.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameHDRWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions.

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I think most people here will agree, that 99.9% of the HDR images which appear on the web are complete and utter trash. Just overdone, and horribly plastic looking. Maybe someone here will prove there is some hope for the technique.

Nut honestly, if one simply uses a decent camera (in other words, with a modern Sony CMOS sensor) and shoots RAW, the darks and lights can be properly adjusted in something like LightRoom, to show enough detail, but NOT look weird and fake. No real need for exposure bracketing, and what not.