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    What is HDR?

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    Pau Monfort
    @paumonfort

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    What is HDR? … Three small letters that are present in most of the camera applications of current smartphones and that attract the curiosity of users. But do you really know what this mode is and when it should be used? This is what I propose to find out in this article.


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    HDR is a system that is triumphing in digital photography. If you want to know what it is and what its characteristics are, pay attention because we are about to tell you. In recent years, more and more mobile phones have the HDR mode for taking pictures, especially high-end smartphones. But you know what is HDR or what it consists of? Keep reading!



    What is HDR mode?

    HDR stands for High Dynamic Range (Wide Dynamic Range), and refers to the use of different images within the same shot, each with a different light / shadow ratio. It is a method of taking several photos at the same time (usually three or more) each with a different exposure.

    Although this is a technique that has been used for some time in the world of photography in recent years it has also appeared on high-end mobile phones.


    How does the HDR mode work?

    And what does the HDR mode? Instead of taking a single photo, HDR mode uses the captured images, some overexposed, some underexposed and one with medium exposure, which are then merged by the camera software to create a final optimized photo.


    Then, through the software, these three shots are combined into one and this brings out the best of each of them. Now smartphones do everything automatically, since you just have to take the photo.


    Images that are taken with the HDR mode they should look like what the human eye captures with its camera. The human eye has its own sistema HDR, which is why the result obtained with this technology is so fascinating.


    However, excess is never good and in many cases this technique is not useful. This is the case with moving photographs, as this mode will make the image blurry.

    Another situation where we must avoid HDR is in scenes with a lot of contrast, as this type of situation tends to be better with rich colors between dark and bright areas. Finally, you should avoid using such technology in rich color compositions, as HDR will eventually turn them off.

    when HDR should be used? Landscape photos are the most recommended to apply this mode. This is because usually this type of images have a lot of contrast between the different elements: sky, earth, mountains… Thanks to this, by activating the HDR mode you can capture the details of the sky without making the rest of the scene seem too dark, and vice versa.


    One of the latest news related to this mode is that YouTube will start posting video content in HDR, but the exact date of its incorporation into the platform is not yet known.


    When to use HDR mode?

    As explained above, HDR cannot be used at any time, you run the risk of making images that are sometimes too artificial. Here are some tips on when to use the feature to capture images:

    Landscape (panoramic)

    In general, large landscapes that offer great contrast between the sky and the ground are perfect for using HDR mode. With HDR, your smartphone camera captures the details of the sky without obscuring the details of the earth.


    Remember, everything here is mainly related to the incidence of light, so the camera lens will prioritize more or less light as the case may be.

    Portraits in bright light conditions

    Brightness is one of the most important aspects of a good photo, but outdoors, sunlight can sometimes cause shadows or, conversely, “burn” images. HDR mode can solve these differences and offer a nuanced snapshot.

    Images in low light or backlit conditions

    If your photo is too dark or backlit, HDR mode can help you “brighten” the image and balance the scene. But it is always good to remember that HDR does not work miracles, for example, in an environment where there is no light, it will not be possible to obtain a great result.

    When not to use HDR mode?

    Many times, HDR mode really helps you but it can also ruin images. Here are some situations in which it is best to forget that the function exists:


    Moving objects

    If you want to photograph moving objects or people, HDR mode increases the chances of a blurry photo. Remember, HDR takes three photos, so if the subject moves between the first and second shots, the final image won't be very good.

    High contrast scenes

    If you want to keep a high contrast between a light and a dark part, we do not recommend using the HDR mode which will tend to smooth both parts.

    Bright colors

    If the environment is too dark or too bright, the HDR mode may sometimes have problems analyzing too bright colors making them washed out or too dynamic.


    Which smartphones offer HDR mode?

    This HDR mode can now be found on most current smartphones, at least those launched since 2015.

    Remember that HDR mode usage and performance may vary from phone to phone, depending on camera quality and HDR settings. If you particularly need this feature when buying a phone, I recommend that you run a test with the device.

    If your device doesn't have a native HDR mode, the solution is simple. Just use specialized photography applications.

    I propose you a small selection:

    • HDR FX Photo Editor Free
    • HDR Camera
    • Camera360
    • ProHDR Camera

    Using HDR mode can give great results, but you have to be patient and use it sparingly. If in doubt, do not hesitate to take pictures without and with HDR mode and compare the results.

    Have you heard big differences when using HDR mode on your smartphone?

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