Shooting Hanheld HDR Photography

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As some of you already know lately I'm a lot into HDR photography. For most of the times I'm shooting from a tripod, but sometimes (just sometimes) I'm lazy enough to take tripod with me. In most cases I end up damning myself for not taking tripod this time and most often avoid HDR shooting. Also in a lot of popular tourist spots (churches,cathedrals) it's forbidden to use a tripod - so you are left with handheld and no flashlight photography.

Thus, that doesn't mean you cannot shoot HDR without a tripod, you can actually make really striking HDR photography handheld. You don't need flash neither.

Here’s a three-exposure shot with bracketing set to +/- 2 increment.

HDR Handheld photography

Canon Rebel T5 with kit 18-55mm lens f/11 three brackets merged with Photomatix, ISO 100

​A few months ago I did a similar HDR photography but with a tripod - the scene was pretty much the same - some interesting architectural element, blue sky and cool clouds. 

Here is how I did above shot handheld:

  1. ISO 100 (I use ISO100 95% time)
  2. f/11 
  3. Timer 2 sec
  4. Shutter speed 160 - Histogram helps a lot to determine optional shutter speed
  5. Freeze

Photomatix can do miracles with handheld photography - when importing your pictures in Photomatix make sure you check box under hand-held minimal or auto (In most cases I go for hand-held minimal). Ok great - if there is a plenty of daylight you can most probably make a decent HDR photography, but what to do in really low light resolution, for example a HDR photography in the cave? Not a problem

HDR in Low light 

Another  three-exposure shot with bracketing set to +/- 2 increment.

Canon Rebel T5 with kit 18-55mm lens f/5.0 three brackets merged with Photomatix, ISO 3200

Shot in the Prometheus Cave, Republic of Georgia - this one actually is one of my first HDR images. Probably I was not following any photography rules or advices- and figured this shooting technique by my own - how to get story telling pictures from this cave. You can read an article about this cave here: Prometheus Cave near Kutaisi (Georgia)

Here is how I did above shot handheld:

  1. ISO Auto- (The only time I use ISO higher than 100 is in really low light and when without a tripod)
  2. f/5.0 - for allowing maximum light enter the sensor
  3. Timer 2 sec
  4. Shutter speed 1/21- It's a superb hard to freeze the frame anything bellow 1/15
  5. Tripple Freeze (A good technique to freeze your body - put a strap on camera and hang it over your neck, stretch your hands with camera shoot and freeze)

I hope this technique will help you next time wanting to do HDR photography, when it's forbidden to use a tripod or you are traveling without a gear.