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Keep That Camera Steady! - For The Best HDR Photos
This is obvious but essential. As tempting as it may be to shoot free hand (or from the hip),if you want good, sharp HDR images you need to stabilize your camera. Ideally, use a sturdy tripod, or in a pinch, set the camera down on a solid surface.
Second, some of your over exposed frames need to capture shadow details and you may actually be shooting at shutter speeds so long that you can have difficulties holding the camera steady. So in addition to creating problems aligning frames that shifted due to the camera changing position between frames, you may also have frames that are blurry due to long exposure times. These will have a negative affect on the merge process and image sharpness.
In addition to a sturdy tripod or solid surface to mount the camera, you will also want to minimize any movement caused by you touching the camera between shots. This can be accomplished a number of ways, the easiest of which is to use the self timer or a cable release trigger to fire the camera. Another option that several professionals use is Promote Remote www.promotesystems.com. This device plugs-in to your camera and actually takes over the bracketing and exposure controls. This is a huge benefit for Canon shooters with cameras that only support 3 shot bracketing.
Of course if you really want to get picky and you are shooting with a D-SLR, you'll mount the camera on a weighted tripod with a sturdy ball head, put the camera in Mirror-Up mode and use the cable release or Promote Remote to fire the camera. This adds an extra delay between the moment the mirror goes up and when the shutter opens, reducing any additional vibration caused by the mirror flipping up and down.
Don't forget, if you are using Vibration Reduction, Image Stabilized or Steady Shot lenses, turn this feature off when the camera is attached to a tripod. You don't want to induce lens movement when the camera isn't moving.
There are some promising new camera and sensor technologies on the horizon that will allow for very fast sequential exposures that may eventually get us to the point of having a virtual 1-click HDR series that can be captured freehand without the need for a tripod. Until then, its better to not hold your breath and just use the reliable tripod.
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