HDR Photography Tips: Pay Attention to Light

As you traipse around looking for good HDR shots, you will undoubtedly run into the same phenomena regarding light and time that photographers everywhere have come to recognize:

  • Not all light is good. Novice photographers sometimes love to go out at noon and take photographs because they think the light is better. It certainly is stronger, but better?

    In general, midday light causes lots of problems, actually — more than it solves. The first and greatest problem is the sun is so intense, shadows are very harsh. It’s like holding a flashlight directly over someone’s head as you take a photograph, only a thousand times worse.

  • Not every time is good. This is intimately related to the first point because when shooting outdoors, time and light are closely related.

    The best time to shoot outdoors is during the golden hour — the hour or so before sunset and after sunrise. Dusk (a short period after sunset and before sunrise) can also be magical.

    When you start to think of light in terms of time, and vice versa, you are on your way to taking better photographs.

When you realize how important light and time are to the photograph, you’ll start taking better pictures. This is true even for HDR. Just because you can capture a broader range of light doesn’t mean every situation will produce an award-winning photo.

Pay attention to how your scenes (landscapes, buildings, and so on) are oriented toward the setting or rising sun. Decide where you want the light to be for the best photograph; then see whether you can take that photo without obstructions or distractions.

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