You can’t shoot handheld HDR, sure you can!.

Hi everyone,

I’m a long term fan of High Dynamic Range or HDR photography, I think that it’s one of the most exciting things to have happened in photography for some years. There’s a lot of stuff out there that one can read that say’s that one can’t shoot HDR handheld and that use of a tripod is obligatory. Well I have never subscribed to this as virtually all my shots taken over the last five or so years have been shot as HDR, handheld without a tripod in sight!.

What one needs to routinely reliably capture HDR images without using a tripod are three things.

  1. A camera with excellent image stabilisation like my OM-D and PEN-F cameras. This is an absolute must have, a real game-changer. One must of course always keep as still as possible whilst taking the shots both to avoid camera shake at slow shutter speeds and to promote good image alignment.
  2. Good HDR software like Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019 with its great alignment and ghost reduction features. I very rarely have to set the ghost reduction to more than medium and typically to less.
  3.  Keep in mind what the slowest shutter speed is going to be in the HDR bracketed series of shots if one is going to avoid camera shake. This where my camera’s image stabilisation really pays huge dividends.

Recently I’ve gone back to shooting an average of 5 frames, rather that 3 frames, now that I’m using the camera’s electronic shutter in silent high speed drive mode (11 FPS), the faster the FPS the better, and thus I don’t have to concern myself with the number of mechanical shutter activations and any possible shutter-shock-induced vibrations. It also gives me a bit more scope in post processing. I’m not totally decrying the use of tripods as there are times in low light situations, night shots etc. where a tripod is necessary but this is true regardless of whether or not one is shooting HDR.

A few recent post COVID-19 lockdown example shots, all shot as 5-frame HDR handheld and processed in Aurora HDR which, if one cares to believe what one reads, I shouldn’t have been able to shoot handheld!. 🙂

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After all, some rules are just “made to be broken”. 🙂

Kind regards





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