Almost every modern smartphone is now offering images captured in HDR mode. This has lead to capturing much better photos with a smartphone camera, but it is not appropriate for every situation. What is HDR, how does it work, when is it advisable to use it, and when can it do more bad than good?
What is HDR effect
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.
Dynamic range is the difference between the darkest and lightest parts of a photo. Any excess of the upper or lower bounds of the dynamic range, even if only minimal, would appear to be perfect whiteness or perfect blackness.
In practical terms, the HDR camera increases the dynamic range more than the limitations of conventional automatic or other shooting modes.
The main advantages of HDR mode on smartphones are two: HDR can bring the final image closer to what we see with our own eyes, and when used when it makes sense, HDR images are much more spectacular than when shooting in classic mode.
How does HDR work?
A smartphone camera in HDR mode captures multiple photos (typically two or three on smartphones) at different exposures and then automatically combines them into one, displaying all the details of its lightest and darkest parts.
When to use HDR mode?
- Landscape photography: In normal shooting mode, the smartphone often has the choice of optimizing exposure and preserving detail or landscape or sky, and HDR can do both. Take a look at the photos above: both the clouds and the surrounding motifs all look very good.
- On a sunny day: HDR can significantly limit the effects of too much sunlight, excessive shading, and glare.
- When there is not enough light: the use of HDR mode can in certain circumstances illuminate the darker parts of the subject while still illuminating those who already receive enough light.
When to avoid HDR mode?
- When taking photos of moving people or objects: Because it needs to capture more shots, HDR mode generally takes a little longer, so the photo may get dirty.
- For scenes with high contrast between the light and dark part of the photo: HDR will often turn such scenes into less pronounced ones.
- When shooting scenes that are already very vibrant in color: HDRs can often colorless spectacularly, and otherwise, colors will appear washed out after HDR treatment.