How To Video
HDR photography for iPhone and AndroidSharon Vaknin explains the ins and outs of HDR and shows you how it can be used to create stunning images with your smartphone.
HDR photography isn't new but now that almost anyone can use it, more and more of these gorgeous photos are popping up online. They usually have a surreal look to them with high contrast, saturated colors and a listed effect. Your photos look like a lot of effort but they're actually pretty easy to achieve. I'm Sharon Vaknin for CNET and today I'll show you how to take stunning HDR photos on your iPhone or Android. First, the basic. HDR or High Dynamic Range photos are simply the product of three different photos combined. One photo was taken on a dark exposure. Another at a regular exposure and the third is taken at a high exposure capturing the most light. When these three photos are combined, you create a photo that looks much closer to what the human eye sees. The difference is absolutely amazing. blamethemonkey.com has a bunch of example of before and after HDR photos. Here's one of the mountains in Meteora, Greece before and after. As you can see, the difference in clarity and depth is huge. So now how can you do this? Let me show you. On the iPhone, it's simple because HDR is built into the camera on the iPhone 4 and 4S. Launch the camera, tap options and turn HDR on. Now, you can set up your shot, focus and hit the shutter button. When you do, it's crucial you hold your phone steady because your iPhone is actually taking three photos in a row. So if you move, you can end up with a blurry photo. My favorite way to keep it steady is to use mu iPhone headphones as a shutter release. Just plug them in, set up your shot and click the volume up control to activate the shutter. Your iPhone will save the HDR photo to your photo album along with the same photo at a regular exposure. So as you can see, the HDR version just pops more than the regular photo. Now, if you wanna be able to tweak the HDR effect after you take a picture or you have an older iPhone without the HDR option, you'll need an app called Pro HDR. It's 2 bucks and comes highly recommended by our CNET reviewers. To use it. launch the app and set up your shot then hold really still and tap the screen. The Apple analyzes the shot, capture a few photos and combine the images to create your HDR photo. Now, you can use the settings below to tweak things like brightness, contrast and saturation to exaggerate or tone down the HDR effect. When you are done, hit save and you'll find your photo in your album. If you've got an Android phone, there's no built-in HDR option like the iPhone but Pro HDR is available in the Play Store for 2 bucks and works the same way. Just remember to set the focus first and hold really still while the app captures the photos. To get the best HDR result, you can experiment with different settings and shot composition. Night time shots can be more dramatic than daytime and landscape then to work better than portrait always on my opinion and ind if you are feeling extra fancy, try combining an HDR photo with an Instagram filter for a really unique effect. Now, I want you to take some awesome HDR photos and send them to me on Twitter. For more tips like this, subscribe to my Facebook page and howto.cnet.com. For CNET, I'm Sharon Vaknin.