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HDR Photography With The iPhone 4 Camera

Fans of iPhone photography have a lot of reasons to love the iPhone 4 camera. Undoubtedly one of the most highly regarded features of the iPhone 4 is the ability to shoot HDR photos with the built-in camera. Apple made a flipping great decision to include this as it makes an already excellent smartphone camera even better! Yay Apple! In this post we’ll take a closer look at the HDR functionality of the iPhone 4 camera.

What is High Dynamic Range?

Dynamic range, by definition is the difference between the light and dark parts of a photograph. It is the range through which light is measured. Cameras have a restricted number of ‘steps’ between the darkest black and the brightest white, but the human eye is capable of seeing a wider range of colors and details. With HDR photography, we can capture photos that present a wider range of highlights and shadows and thus, our photos are a closer representation of what we actually see.

Many HDR techniques, suchs as physically merging film negatives, may have begun as early as 1850 but the ongoing study and continuous development of technological advancements have boosed the popularity of HDR photography and there are now many ways to produce HDR-type photos. One of the most common ways to produce HDR photos with a digital camera is to take a series of several photos (3 or more) at stepped exposures, using a photo-editing program to combine the photos thus creating an HDR image. Of course, what we’re talking about here is enabling the HDR option in the built-in Camera app on the iPhone 4, so lets return to that…

How does HDR work on the iPhone?

When HDR is enabled on your iPhone, you do not have to shoot several photos – the camera does it automatically for you. It will then process the images using an internal algorithm to merge the differently exposed images combining them into one single image. The result is a well-exposed photo that reveals a full dynamic range.

How to use the iPhone 4 HDR feature:

To shoot an HDR photo using your iPhone 4, follow the steps below:

  1. Tap the “HDR On/Off” button which you can find at the top of the Camera app interface.
  2. Aim your camera phone and shoot at your desired subject. The camera then will snap three (3) exposures – underexposed, overexposed, and autoexposed.
  3. Wait for a few seconds as the iPhone merges the photos into an HDR image.

By default, your iPhone will save both the three differently exposed photos plus the final combined image to your Camera Roll. This is really useful as there may be times when you may prefer the non-HDR output. If you find that saving this many images requires too much storage you can disable it in the Settings.

To edit the saving options:

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap on Photos.
  3. Switch off the “Keep Normal Photo” button.


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