Hand-held HDR and SF Financial District

Downtown Flowers

Downtown Flowers

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I’ve been hearing it from the so-called self proclaimed experts on internet forums that hand-held HDR is impossible or “you won’t get good results!” Just the mere mention of hand-holding on some HDR forums is akin to blasphemy! These remarks are usually uttered by the same folk that claim that you need 7-9 exposures to properly capture the entire dynamic range of a photo. So what, you get blown highlight here and there, a flare or, heaven forbid, a shadow?

Among Giants

Among Giants

Let’s keep this interesting, folks! After all, these photographs that we’re turning out are a representation of real life and an attempt to create a vision as we see it. HDR or any other photography doesn’t have to be antiseptically perfect.

The real question about hand-held HDR I have to ask myself is this: Do I shoot hand-held HDR for the challenge of getting it right or because I’m lazy? I haven’t really had enough coffee in me this morning to be motivated to think about that one, but I’m inclined to cover my butt and say that the answer is a little of both.

The day that I took these photos, Paul gave me a shout and suggested that he, Jim and I jump on BART to the city (San Francisco) and do a little walk around shooting. I was up for a good walk but there are times when I want to travel light and not have to carry a tripod, too. I still carried a gear bag but I realistically didn’t need to because all I had was my Canon 40D and an ultra wide Sigma 10-20mm.

The Space Race

The Space Race

Here’s a question and I believe that it doesn’t have one right answer: If you could only pick on lens, what would it be? On that day not only was hand-held HDR the challenge, but so was making that one wide lens work for me. Often times I shoot broad landscapes and I might get a couple shots in one area and move on to a whole different location. Instead, we took public transit somewhere and worked within a few city blocks. Maybe an ultra wide angle wouldn’t have been the best lens choice for this outing, but I challenged myself to make that lens work for me.

Each of the three images on this page was shot hand-held with 3 exposures (0,-2,+2) and so were some of the other HDR images on this site. If it’s bright and sunny, I’ll usually go for it hand-held.  Are there issues with image alignment? Sometimes. Can I get around that? Usually.

I once found this great video by Joe McNally on holding your camera properly. It seems like a rudimentary concept but it’s something that’s helped me day in and day out for both standard exposures and HDR. Check it out and enjoy…

3 Responses to “Hand-held HDR and SF Financial District”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keith B Dixon, Joe Ercoli. Joe Ercoli said: Hand-held #HDR in the #sanfrancisco financial district http://bit.ly/cRj67D #photog […]

  2. Dane says:

    Joe, nice article.

    I frequently take handheld bracketed sets. As with most things, a good result depends on a variety of factors, but with good light, a short lens and a high shutter speed, I’ve had some turn out well. Good examples above. Well done!

  3. steve B says:

    handheld HDR is very possible. Two of my best HDR images were handheld…with a heavy 24-70L lens at that. It’s like you say…all about the grip. Great write up!

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