Looking towards Minneapolis and the Third Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River at sunset.
I started shooting long exposures of some of these scenes and I really liked the effect which it created on the water by smoothing out the waves and making the reflections very bright. It occurred to me that If i was to use Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) to make one image as normal, one image -2 EV to expose for the clouds and bright sky and one image at +2 EV to expose for the details of the buildings that they could all be merged together to create one image impossible to capture with normal methods. The name for this technique is called HDR or High Dynamic Range because it creates a much larger range of brighness than normal range between the dark shadows and bright sunlight.
The +2 stops over exposed version has little detail in the sky but because it was a 6.0 second shot it has the beautifully smooth water reflecting the sunset.
The -2 stops under exposed version has excellent detail in the sky and clouds but the bridge and buildings look like a silhouette they are so dark.
Most DSLR cameras have an AEB feature (it could have a different name) which when switched on will make your camera shoot in groups of usually 3 photos (sometimes 5 or 7) but i think three is plenty. By using a tripod and shooting groups of three photos in rapid succession I was able to capture the exact same scene exposing once for the sky, once for the shadows and once for everything else.
The final step is merging and processing the group of photos into one final JPG image. Many programs can be used such as Photoshop or a more specialized program called Photomatix. I believe that Googles program Picassa can also merge photos to create HDR images.
3 Shot HDR with exposure times of 1.6s, 0.4s, 6.0s – ISO 50 – f/16 – 17mm
Canon EOS 5D MkII Body and Canon EF 17-40 f/4L Lens.
Photographed in St. Paul, Minnesota on 6-27-2014 at 8:00 PM