When should you use HDR on your DSLR camera, iPhone X/8/7 or Android phone like Samsung Galaxy S8? Read and learn when to use HDR.

The Ultimate Guide on When to Use HDR for the Photography Beginners

Last Updated on November 15, 2021 by Peter Wood


When to use HDR on DSLR, Android, or iPhone? It should be a big problem for beginners. And professional HDR photographers can always take advantage of the tone mapping magic to make a stunning HDR photograph. The article explains some dos and does not's for beginners when using HDR.

If it is the first time you get your HDR camera to shoot some stunning HDR photos, you have to know more about HDR before taking any further steps. Just short for the definition of HDR, it involves taking several photographs of the same subject with different exposure, and then use HDR software to combine them as one HDR photo.

Ultimate Guide on When to Use HDR

WidsMob HDR

With advanced Alignment technology, WidsMob HDR is easy to create a sharp HDR photo by combining 3 different bracketed photos and letting coordinates of every pixel aligned perfectly.

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Part 1. When to Use HDR

There is not any fixed hard-set rule for using HDR for pictures. You can bracket the images to get the best exposure if the final result turns out to be a good HDR photo, it will be a great success.

Take practice should be the most important. Just choose between different shooting modes, including HDR, use your imagination to explore the best HDR occasion. “Do I use HDR here?” should not be a difficult question for you soon.

1. Use HDR for Multiple Contrasts

Use HDR for multiple contrast

Dos

When you are shooting for stuff with a wide range of contrast or brightness, it should be the best HDR situation and the most frequently used HDR occasions, such as landscape photos and outdoor photos. The different exposures show different subjects in a better way and combine them into a stunning HDR. Once you activated the HDR mode of your HDR camera, some camera type detects a wide range of contrast scenes, it shows a message, which you can touch to use HDR mode.

Donot’s

You can find some photos that look better in contrast between the dark part and the light one. If you are still a newbie for an HDR photographer, you better not use HDR when you have to highlight a shadow or have a black-and-white effect.

2. Use HDR for Backlit Scenes

Use HDR for backlit scenes

Dos

The usage of HDR should be a good way to bright up backlit scenes or low light occasions. You can find lots of HDR photographs for sunset, twilight, or nightscape. The stunning HDR photograph taken for the decoration of a gorgeous church should be my favorite. The Gods of the mural came alive in the HDR image.

Donot’s

But when you use HDR for such occasions, the HDR image might be blurred. It is because HDR is not always the best choice for the super low light situation. You can use a camera reflector to capture the best exposure of the HDR image. You can check for the best result accordingly by using HDR mode or the Night mode.

3. Use HDR for Stationary Stuffs

Use HDR for stationary stuffs

Dos

Use HDR for vehicles is one of the best themes for HDR photos. When using HDR on cars, the high contrast between the cars and surrounding (usually the sky) should be impressive. And you can also find some HDR photos for plants, seashore, wooden houses, and other stationery stuff. But you can also check some breathtaking HDR photos for animals from professional HDR photographers.

Donot’s

1. It is hard to make HDR of animals because they move around. When you use HDR mode for shooting moving stuff, the stuff movement makes the HDR blurred.

2. 2. For more detailed shots or people images, you can not use HDR photo effects. The skin tones will warp. And the HDR looks like crap instead.

Part 2. When Not to Use HDR

1. Not Use HDR for Movement Subjects

Not to use HDR for movement

Since HDR needs to take three pictures to get the better-merged image, if any subject on the photo will move among shots, the final picture will become blurry as those shots can not match completely. And when you are using HDR, the photo process will be longer than a non-HDR photo. So for moving subjects or scenes within moving things, you’d better not consider HDR.

2. Not Use HDR for High Contrast Scenes

Not to Use HDR for high contrast scenes

Sometimes some photos would be fun with high contrast between the dark and light parts. If you are using HDR when you have a dark shadow or silhouette to highlight, it will reduce the photo contrast to make the effect less pronounced. It also includes very bright and sunlit conditions. Direct sunlight would be hard to shoot in, and if you are using an HDR setting, it will wash out your scene.

HDR sometimes is suitable for low contrast scenes as HDR will pull the highlights down (darkening) and pull the shadows up (lightening them) and make the scene oversaturated and the color garish. Moreover, using HDR will easily remove all photo shadows, which will let light and dark in less contrast and make the photograph less in shape, dimension and depth. In all the above conditions, the normal mode would be better than HDR mode to make photos more dramatic and fun.

3. Not Use HDR for Vividly Colorful Scenes

Not to use HDR for vivid colorful scenes

HDR can bring some color back for too dark or too light scenes. However, if your photo is already full of vivid color, HDR may wash them out rather than bringing them back. For example, HDR may make vivid color photos look garish. So you’d better not overdo the color saturation.

4. Not Use HDR for People or Animals

Not to use HDR for people or animals

If there are people or animals in your scene, you’d better not use the HDR setting since HDR is not good at doing skin tone and usually moves from one frame to another to make it hard for bracketed shots and put them together. It is the same for animals. HDR may show a ton of detail of the animal (like the dog’s fur) that may not be necessary to show. Then the original mode would make the animal seem soft and few in detail to be natural.


It is time to use the HDR mode of your camera. You can have another beautiful world in HDR photographs. These guidelines should be something you bear in mind when you take HDR photos, but not the fixed rules to use HDR. It would be the same rule no matter you are wondering when to use HDR on a camera, iPhone, or Android phone. The more you practice, the more professional you will be. If you want to share your experience using HDR, you can share it in the comments.

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