Work flow for HDR

There seems to be a huge amount of questions I get asked especially on Instagram around how did I do a certain shot… rather than answer each person one by one I thought I would show the work that goes into some of these to get specific results. While some shots can only be done with specific equipment like a “big stopper” allowing me to expose images for a long time during day light a bulk of them. 

The second reason I have chosen to write this is because there has been heaps of time I have asked other photographers how they have done something or asked questions and they refuse to share… I personally don’t understand this or that type of attitude. 
This specific work flow is going to focus on HDR using 2 main applications. 

1. Adobe Lightroom

lightroom on mac
screenshot of adobe lightroom workflow

2. Photomatrix 

For those who don’t know what a “HDR” shot is i’ll briefly explain. 

HDR stands for high dynamic range, and it essentially takes a series of images, each shot with a different exposure from darkest to lightest. HDR combines the best parts of the three overexposed, underexposed, and balanced shots to create a dramatic image with beautiful shadowing and highlights.

Starting off this shot was done yesterday.. it was leaving home at 4am to get down to the beach in time while it was still dark, before “BLUE hour”. Originally I was out there to play around with a new filter I purchase for the camera, a nisi 10 stop

ND filter
my new nisi ND filter

In some other posts I will do some walk through a with this, they are one of the best accessories I have ever invested in. Anyhow… back to the HDR. 

landscape hdr
my set up for this HDR landscape shoot

The camera and equipment I shot on was – 

  • Canon eos M3
  • Canon adaptor for ef-m to ef-s
  • Canon 10mm-22mm wide angle
  • Tripod

For my settings I am in manual with f5.6 at 12mm with an ISO of 100. I find out what the balanced shot is by adjusting my shutter speed. I then shoot the balanced shot and check it is ok using my histogram on the camera 

A histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values of your image. In other words, it shows the amount of tones of particular brightness found in your photograph ranging from black (0% brightness) to white (100% brightness).

I then speed up my shutter speed till I get three to four stops lower (creating a darker image). After each shot I slow down my shutter speed slightly capturing more light in each shot

I won’t know till I’m home how these will look merged so every day can be a whole new experiment. 

Once I’m home I go to my work flow (Lightroom). I select each picture and select “edit in” > “photomatrix”. 

If you are interested in either of these they can be found here – 

Once that is done it will export all the shots from Lightroom over to photomatrix and give you either presets or manual control. These are different each time depending. On the aspects of the shot and your personal taste. After playing around in this I then bring the shot back into Lightroom. 

Once again the rest of the workflow remains down to the eye of the beholder. Remember your work flow is non destructive meaning that what ever changes you make in Lightroom can always be undone so play around! I focus my efforts on “whites”, “blacks”, “clarity” and “vibrance” 

Here is the finished product

hdr rockpools in australia
The finished HDR shot

Once I have my completed image I airdrop from my Mac to my iPhone and post it up πŸ‘πŸ» 

Hopefully this has helped or inspired someone else. If you want to check out more shots I now have a dedicated Instagram page and Facebook page for my landscape shots. 

Instagram – foto.holic


Joshua Beniston


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