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iPhoneography Quick Tip: When NOT to Use HDR on Your iPhone

It occurred to us recently we’ve talked a heck of a lot about when to use HDR, how to use HDR, and some of the best HDR apps available for the iPhone…but actually we haven’t covered in any depth when NOT to use HDR on your iPhone. And yes, there are some times when HDR just won’t work well or isn’t appropriate for the scene so you’re better off saving yourself the trouble.

by Christopher Croton

DON’T use HDR for moving subjects, objects, or when you are moving.

Before you shout “Hello Captain Obvious!”, this is just a reminder that HDR is really at it’s best when used on still scenes that have the fewest amount of moving elements. Even slow-moving objects such as clouds and leaves on trees can create ghosts in your HDR images, so there’s no hope for shooting HDR from say, a moving car. Just don’t bother.

DON’T use HDR in overly bright, midday sun.

There are of course exceptions to this rule, but you’ll get better results from your HDR photos if you’re shooting when there is already a bit of difference between the shadows and the highlights of your scene. The whole idea of HDR is to bring your photo to life, making it seem more vivid and punchy than it was before, to increase the dynamic range. If you happen to be shooting in the middle of the day with HDR you may find that you get the opposite effect you were going for resulting in too many shadows and highlights and not enough rich, vivid colors.

DON’T use HDR for capturing successive shots.

Remember, HDR images are larger than normal images so therefore they take longer to process in camera. If you’re wanting to capture several shots in succession, give HDR a miss. We’re not even really talking about burst mode here, as there’s simply no way HDR images would process quick enough to use burst mode. But perhaps you want to take three or four shots of a bus as it picks up passengers and before it moves away from the curb, if you shoot in HDR you’ll probably only have time to snap one (at best two) shots before the bus starts moving again.

by Slack12

So there you have three very clear examples of when NOT to use HDR on your iPhone…but as we don’t like to leave things on a neg (we’re YES people here at TBL), here’s a few more instances in which HDR is the way to go…

DO use HDR for close-ups, “macro” and outdoor portraits.

HDR is great when shooting close-ups and “macro” iPhoneography as it can really bring out the detail that you need when working with something that is close to the lens. Further to that, try shooting your outdoor portraits in HDR (if you can instruct your subject to be very very still!) as you’ll get a more “lifelike” result.

DO use HDR for shooting in low light conditions, without the flash.

Many low light shots have that nasty orange hue to them, where the light elements are so bright they have no definition and the dark elements are far too dark (also with no definition). Try shooting in low light with HDR to bring the dynamic range more in line with what the eye really sees for your situation. As you know, it’s already EXTRA important to hold your camera very still when shooting in low light anyway, so if you’re going to try HDR in low light you will most likely get better results using a tripod.


One Response to “iPhoneography Quick Tip: When NOT to Use HDR on Your iPhone”

  1. There IS an app that you can use for moving objects, even inside a moving car: HDR+ Camera. It produces super sharp pictures, but the colors are usually not to my liking, and I tweak them in another app.
    For fast HDR shooting there is Bracket Mode, it shoots a picture exposed for the highlights and another for the shadows really fast, and you can continue shooting and then combine the images in your favorite HDR app later.

    • Mar
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