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How to Shoot Impressive HDR Portraits

What Does HDR Mean in Photos?

Before we teach you the HDR portrait technique, let’s discuss what it is and what it does.

Even the best cameras can’t show both highlights and shadows accurately in one shot. That’s why when you have to photograph a scene with strong contrasts, you often end up with images that look blown out.

This is where HDR, or High Dynamic Range, comes in. It manipulates a photo so it can display both bright highlights and dark shadows. It’s a great tool to use if you find yourself in a complicated lighting situation.

The secret to HDR’s effectiveness is that it combines several photos with different exposures. It uses the dark shadows in one photo and bright highlights in another to create a composite with the perfect lighting.

HDR used to be a complicated technique only used by professionals. But now, most cameras have this feature. And even editing suites now allow you to seamlessly combine images for HDR with a few simple steps.

Set Your Camera to Manual or Aperture Priority

The first step to creating HDR portraits is to set your exposure settings. This is crucial especially since you need to take several photos with various exposures to create an HDR image.

You can either use Manual or Aperture Priority for this step. Both settings work excellent for HDR photography. Choosing which one to select is all a matter of preference.

If you’re still nervous about tinkering with Manual Settings, then Aperture Priority would be perfect for you. Once you’re in this mode, all you have to do is select your aperture setting. The camera will then choose the shutter speed for you.

Since you’re doing portraits, it would be best to use f/1.8 or f/2 to get the background blur that you want.

If you’re comfortable with Manual Mode, then feel free to choose this setting instead of Aperture Priority. Doing so will allow you to adjust your exposure yourself.

Once you choose your aperture, such as f/1.8, adjust your shutter speed accordingly until you get a well-exposed image.

Bracketing is a camera feature that lets you take several images with various exposures. Its purpose is to give you different options when you find yourself in challenging lighting conditions.

Since HDR also requires different exposures, bracketing would be the best option to use. Instead of manually setting the exposure before taking a photo, you can do it all automatically through this feature.

Activating Bracketing differs from one camera to another. Some have buttons that are easy to access, while others are hidden in the menu. Consult your manual to help you find this option on your device.

When activated, your device will give you the option to adjust the number of photos and the exposure increments you require.

In most cases, you get to choose between two to five images that have varying exposures. Three photos are often enough because it lessens the chances of your subject moving while you’re shooting.

Bracketing also allows you to adjust the exposure increments. In other words, you get to choose how dark or bright you want each of your subsequent photos to become.