The other day I went up to Triple Falls with Michael Gibbons Media and we shot some cool nature clips. I wanted to shoot more HDR clips.
Some of you may ask, what is HDR and what does it stand for? HDR stands for “high dynamic range.” This technic involves taking your camera, setting it up on a tripod and shooting two or three different clips at two or three different exposures, while not moving your camera. You can then take these clips and combined them using a compositor like After Effects.
You may ask yourself, “Ok great, and what’s the reason for doing this?” Say you’re shooting a field and you want to expose the field and the sky properly in the same shot. Well normally, only one subject can be exposed properly due to the drastic brightness difference. Most times when you expose a nice blue sunny sky, the ground is rather dark and under exposed. Well, by taking two photos, one with the sky exposed properly and one with the field exposed properly, you can then combined them and end up with everything in your photo being exposed correctly. This “HDR” effect can create some impressive results.
Some people love this effect, and other’s hate it. I personally like it, if it’s done in a tasteful way. You can over use the effect and your photo looks out right fake and cartoony.
HDR is becoming more popular with photography. A few professional cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III can take several photos at once at different exposures for the HDR effect, eliminating the need for a tripod and taking 3 separate photos.
Now, most video cameras cannot film at 2 or 3 different exposures automatically. The only cinematic camera that can achieve this is currently the Red Epic. So if you want to tackle this with a DSLR, you’ll have to use a tripod, or a remote computer guided electric dolly.
So for this waterfall shot, I went ahead and used a tripod. Now, this shot was a little tricky because I had moving elements; the waterfalls. So once I took my footage into After Effects, I created feathered masks around the waterfall and sky, allowing the properly exposed layers to show through.