Why you should shoot in HDR on your camera phone

According to Wikipedia;

High dynamic range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a set of methods used in imaging and photography to allow a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging methods or photographic methods. HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.

In simpler terms, HDR is a range of methods to provide higher dynamic range from the imaging process. Non-HDR cameras take pictures at one exposure level with a limited contrast range. This results in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of a picture, depending on whether the camera had a low or high exposure setting. HDR compensates for this loss of detail by taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitching them together to produce a picture that is representative in both dark and bright areas.

Most of the high end camera phones have the HDR feature on them. I shall be referring specifically to the Samsung S3 since that is what I use. If you shoot a lot of landscapes or cityscapes or just scenes with a wide range of light. Like a really dark area against a really bright area, HDR would help even that out immensely. This is why I like HDR.

1. It balances the difference between the dark and light areas in photos. The photo then looks more like the eye sees despite cameras not being able to achieve this naturally.

2. I like that when I use HDR the clouds seem sharper and with more contrast and therefore look more dramatic.

*Please note. The images here are for comparison of HDR and nonHDR image. The HDR one is the one on the left. These are basically only a little enhanced (saturation 10%, contrast 10%, sharpness 10%) so they’re the way the S3 shoots when you put on the HDR feature. It takes 2 photos as shown in the comparisons. Can you tell the difference?

3. The photos shot on HDR just look more professional. After applying a few filters to kick up color and sharpness, your photo looks closer to what you saw on the field.

4. Shooting HDR is not a quick snap process. It forces me to take time to compose and get the shot right.

5. With HDR, I can finally shoot directly into the sun without over exposing my photos. It automatically takes care of the burnt out areas and dials them down.

6. The details in the HDR shots are just superior.

All this said, I understand most of our concerns like the fact that HDR takes 2 photos, this is because it has to merger 2 different exposures to make 1 awesome photo. You then can delete the non HDR one. I don’t think this is a great price to pay though is it?

Also you have to remain very still while shooting HDR so that the photos line up well. If you have shaky fingers you may wanna use a tripod for your photography escapades or place your phone on something.

So take your S3 or other HDR enabled phone out to play and make great photos that go above the normal. I think you shall have fun. Remember, every technology is dependent on the user. The key is to understand when you need HDR and use it well. Some scenarios don’t require HDR. But then again, this is art, the best rules to follow are no rules. Just go out and make good art.

If you have any questions about HDR please let me know in the comments and I should be happy to help.