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Dan Achatz Talks About HDR and Blending

Published: 04/12/2008

I asked Dan Achatz last July ago to do a guest blog post for us on how he uses Photomatix for real estate shoots but up until this week he's been too busy shooting. Many of you are familiar with Dan's great looking HDR work that he posts on flickr or on this site. His real estate work on his site is here. Dan has done more than a blog post for us, he's put together a really nice video tutorial on HDR and blending. To view it either click on the image above or click here. Thanks Dan for the great tutorial!

Larry Lohrman

28 comments on “Dan Achatz Talks About HDR and Blending”

  1. Thanks Dan, that was a one of the best video tutorials I've seen. Well produced. I'll have to watch the section on the tone mapping again. I've found that the most difficult, and not much info on it. So many dials, and things to move up and down.

  2. Thank you Dan.

    You know what I like about HDR is not having to set up lights, because the lighting setup IMO can dictate where the tripod is located and with HDR the choice is mine where I want to photograph 🙂

  3. Hello Dan,
    I just watched your very informative video on HDR and have a question.
    What camera mode is best for HDR and RE photography. M or AV?

    Thank you in advance for your help,

  4. Michael- You want to set camera on Aperture priority so the auto bracketing uses the shutter speed to do the bracketing. This is so the depth of field stays the same in all three bracketed images.

  5. actually, Michael, I'd suggest using manual mode over AV b/c you want to nail the 0 EV exposure as best as possible & this will give you the most reliability.

    granted, some cameras have excellent meters built-in that will meter the entire frame & thus will work well on AV... but there are a number of cameras that will pick up the predominant light source (e.g. sunlight coming through windows) & underexpose the frame. If you get a dark middle frame, try shooting on manual & keep an eye on the histogram.

  6. Thanks Larry & Scott.

    I'm shooting a 5D with a 17-40mm.
    What is a ideal ISO for interiors? 400? exteriors? 100?

  7. FYI,
    I'm shooting a "freebee" for an agent at 3:00 today. In hopes to get more future jobs.

  8. I have yet to use HDR but I may do some experimenting now. Thanks so much for the tutorial Dan! Does CS3 do HDR processing or is there a good program for mac someone may recommend?

  9. In regards to the question about what mode I shoot in.

    I shoot in Manual. iso 100, f6.3 for everything. The AEB will only bracket the time and not the Iris in Manual mode.

  10. Dan,
    Very nice video. I had thought the consensus was to use 3 level bracketing for exteriors, but expand to at least 5 for interior shots, so I am encouraged to see you getting such great results with that 'limited' tonal range. I much prefer auto bracketing to having to touch the camera for each exposure. I've heard there's a Nikon model that has extended auto-bracketing up to 5 or even more stops, but us Canon folk have only the 3. (I have done 2 sets, one at +- 2 and the other at +-1 and just tossed out the extra 0 to get the full 5 stop range, but it isn't much faster than doing a 5 stop series manually and also requires touching the camera a little too much) Anyway, thanks again for the informative video.

  11. Dave: Yup, The Nikon D100/200/300/700 or any of the D1/2/3 series have 9-step AEB w/ a range of +/-4 EV.

    Michael: Assuming you're using a tripod & no flash, there's no reason not to shoot on the lowest standard ISO for the cleanest possible image. I shoot on 100 or 200 depending on the camera (my D2Hs only goes down to 200).

  12. Thanks for the video Dan,

    I am trying to perfect my HDR technique. I see a lot of photo's around these days with that "muddy" look. I assume you address that issue in photoshop. I would be very interested to see what Photoshop work you do after the tone mapping/blending. Do you have a video on that?

  13. Dan,

    I would also like to see a video on what you do in Photoshop to "clean-up" the images after working in Photomatrix.

  14. Hello Dan,
    I am looking seriously into specialising in HDR real estate architectural here in Australia. I use a Nikon D200 which allows me to bracket up to 9 shots depending on the highlight and shadow level.
    Develop on FDR basic with a Mac and the resulots are quite encouraging. Agree with the comments about making the final image appear as natural and real as possible.
    Seeing your site has encouraged me all the more to see my opportunity to expand my craft and create a successful business right here right now.

    Thanks a bunch

  15. Once again,

    I'm convinced this is the secret to VHT's professional looking architectural photography at

    I can't imagine spending this amount of time on each photo though.

  16. Dan this is great work! I wish I could get my HDR to look like yours, but I just haven't been able to do it. I have started to use Enfuse and I have been getting much better results with less work flow.

  17. [...] Dan Achatz Talks About HDR and Blending I love HDR photography and have been playing with it quite a bit over the last year or so. It’s fun to play with and can easily be overdone, but this was a great tutorial that I wish I had when I first started in HDR. [...]

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