Shooting for HDR Portraiture

Few kinds of photography have a more dynamic power than the area of Portraiture. Portraiture is the medium through which we photographers endeavor to tell the stories of our friends, our family, and our clients. Through this art, we have the ability to capture a likeness of someone that will last for generations to come.

So, is your portraiture worthy of this calling?
Developing the art of portraiture requires a great deal of time and effort. Developing relationship to perceive the true personality of our subject. Creating the perfect likeness. Achieving the most dynamic final product for print.

Daunting? Perhaps. But technology is on our side in ways like never before: Portraitists, meet the High Dynamic Range Portrait. HDR portraits may seem more work than worth the effort. This is further than the truth. There are many programs that have now harnessed the simplicity of HDR and enable portraitists to create works of art that produce an artistry from the most simple locations, lighting, and subject matter. Creating HDR portraits is more simplistic than you may think. Take these few tips for a portrait of High Dynamic impact.

1. Keep it Simple
The point and purpose of HDR is to capture depth and detail. While you are practicing, set up shots that will enable you to focus entirely on your subject. If you want to create a genuine likeness that harnesses the impact of HDR, keep it simple, and keep it real.

2. Set your camera at Aperture priority
As you will be stacking your image series, you don’t want any change to the aperture and depth of field. Make the shot easy on yourself by allowing the camera to determine your shutter speed. [One additional note: be aware of your shutter speed so that you will not end up with blurry images - ruining the clarity of your HDR portrait].

3. Watch the Movement
The greatest challenge with HDR portraits is getting your subject to stand as still as they can – and you taking the shot with equal speed. If you are not bracketing your camera, you will want to take 3-5 images. Three exposures will keep blur low, once again, allowing you to achieve clarity for your portraits.

4. Observe the Details
HDR is most powerful because it allows you to preserve details in both the shadows and the highlights. Therefore, it’s extremely important to watch anything that may be distracting in your portrait. Wrinkles, oily skin, pores, etc. Minimize elements that you do not want to have featured, or else they will be quite enhanced by the HDR technique.

5. Don’t Stress the Program
You can obtain a variety of HDR programs that will stack the images together into one image [Photomatix for example]. You don’t necessarily need anything fancy or expensive. Once your images are stacked, you can import and edit your image into another program for editing, like Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture. Once again, as you have preserved detail in the highlights and shadows, edit with contrast in mind.

Remember, HDR portraiture can make your portraits come alive with a real-to-life quality you never dreamt possible. And as you see, it can be a fairly simple process.

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