How to use HDR perfectly in urban street photography

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If you live in a city, have a passion for photography and own a good enough camera, then trying your hand out in street photography is one of the obvious things to do. It is true, there is nothing quite rewarding like vast open landscapes and natural beauty to go on a shuttering spree. These vistas offer the most stunning compositions a photographer can dream of. 

But with some inherent creativity and the right software tools, you can create something equally captivating from right around your home. It can be difficult to find the perfect frame or the right lighting for an exquisite shot, given the fast and moving city life. That is where HDR photography steps in. 

Tips to click the best HDR photo of an urban cityscape 

HDR photography or High Dynamic Range photography refers to taking the most eye-catching shots, grooming it further up with the necessary touches, and creating an appealing end result. 

Here is an example of the differences in visuals between a normal photo and an HDR photo


You must be wondering, how to put the concept of HDR in use in street photography. Here are some of the best tips that will help you in it. 

1. Choose the right time and object

HDR really bring out life in your photo if it is shot in the soft lights of sunrise or sunset. A cloudy day would also do the trick, like in the example imagery above. HDR also has a great way of highlighting details in the craftsmanship of man-made objects. So using it for strong line subjects like heritage buildings, neon arts and graffiti, statues, bridges, vehicles etc. would be a great idea. 

2. Capture in more than one exposure

Many photographers choose to tone map a single image. While it does do something worthwhile, it will not produce the results of merging three photos in three different exposures. This is to make sure that the image outputs have three separate levels of data from which you can create HDR photo. On an average three images are ideal for the purpose – one underexposed, one overexposed and one normally exposed. For this you can use auto-bracketing mode or exposure bracketing mode on your camera. For the best results to capture quickly and unhindered, use a tripod to set up your camera, especially if you are shooting in low light. Also, go with RAW instead of JPEG for more flexibility. 

3. Use a good HDR photo editor

Once your clicking session is done, you will need a good software for editing and finalizing the picture. You can use EasyHDR, which is one of the top HDR image processing software out there for Windows and Mac OS

HDR Photography using Easy HDR

4) Keep it simple 

Many professionals tend to continue with HDR editing till the image becomes something surreal and over the top. But it is important to know where to draw the line. EasyHDR and almost all other HDR photo editors will allow you to push your boundaries as much as you can, but know that the purpose of good photography is to recreate reality, not create a whole different version of it. Steer clear from over-editing and concentrate on using HDR to make the picture like you saw it with your naked eyes. 

Before & After using HDR Photo Editor

Final Verdict

A human eye can perceive up to 11 stops of light, while a camera approximately can see only three. Therefore with your multiple exposure shots and HDR editing, you try to recreate what you saw with your eyes. EasyHDR comes with great lens correction, alignment fixing, ghost removal, LUT color grading, and layered presets, as well as in-built Lightroom plug-in. You can use it to easily merge your differently exposed images to make a single striking picture and run tone mapping on it. You can download the software for your use here