Maximizing dynamic range in landscape photography

NJ landscape photography

An abandoned pasture slowly returns to its natural state under an ominous sky in New Jersey.

My goal in nature photography is generally to have my photos look very realistic, yet also portray a flattering impression of whatever laid in front of myself and my tripod.  While out shooting yesterday, I was fortunate to have overcast lighting and also some dramatic clouds.  More or less the ideal conditions for photographing scenery.  The histogram on my DSLR was showing that I was losing a smidgeon of highlight data within my first exposures, so the easy solution was to bracket exposures and blend in post-processing.

For both photos below, I initially shot different exposures, bracketed 2/3 of a stop over and under my baseline capture.  Within Photoshop I used the “HDR Pro” option and selected the “Highlight Compression” option to maximize details in my highlight regions.  I then used a Levels Adjustment to add some pop back into my shots.

NJ landscape photography

The open doors of an old horse stable evoke thoughts of a once-thriving farming economy in New Jersey.

Unsure how to bracket your photos?  Your camera’s manual most likely contains that info, otherwise a quick Google search for bracket photography exposures will lead the way.  Don’t know how to blend exposures or execute HDR?  Ask Google, there are many great tutorials.  Technical and software skills such as these are requirements of modern digital photography.  Learning to look up tutorials on your own and interpret them is an even more valuable skill.  The info is out there, if you seek it.

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