Common practice to create HDR photos is to take what’s called a “bracket” which is a series of photos at different exposure levels, and then to use software to combine those images into a single folder.

Well Stephen Clark was out shooting and after he got home he noticed a lot of his photos had some dramatically underexposed areas, so he took it upon himself to duplicate the RAW file, process it three different ways to simulate having three exposures, and then combined them into a single HDR shot, which got him to wondering…

Why do we need to shoot HDR brackets?

Here’s Stephen’s Question:

“So when I got home all the shots were exposed nicely for the sunrise but the dune was underexposed. I mean black. I was bummed but decided to try to go into Lightroom, make 3 virtual copies, expose dune, expose mid tones, expose sunrise, and than merge in HDR. I recently learned how to do HDR in Lr, but doing it with copies  I had not heard of. Why haven’t I heard of this? Why do we take 3 or 5 or more images, worry about alignment and ghosting instead of just copy the image you want High Dynamic Range and merge them?  It seemed to work fine with virtual copies. My first attempt and I know certain things don’t transfer into a merge HDR in LR but exposure and some others do. Seems legit. Is there a reason why HDR is done with multiple photos instead of copies of 1. Thanks for your time.”

The bottom line here is that with three (or five or seven) photos in a bracket, you have WAY more data to work with, which ultimately will result in better image quality.

Lightroom is a powerful photography tool, but the problem with powerful tools is they’re often complicated and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you want to learn how to use Lightroom to quickly and efficiently manage and edit your photos so that they look as amazing as you envision them, check out my Mastering Lightroom Video Course.