EQUIPMENT YOU NEED
Before getting started, take a look at the tools you will need:
Any digital SLR camera capable of taking multiple exposures (required) – Most dSLR cameras come with this feature (called AEB Auto Exposure Bracketing), but a few do not. Check your camera manual.
A sturdy tripod (required) – Because you’ll be taking multiple exposures of the same scene, it’s important to use a sturdy tripod to eliminate movement from each photo in the series. I use a Manfrotto 055 and recommend any tripod from Manfrotto or Gitzo. However, in my early days I used a cheap tripod from Best Buy. Although the quality of my images suffered a little, it worked fine for a time. So don’t give up HDR just because you can’t afford a fancy tripod just yet.
Photomatix (required) – This is the most essential piece of software you will need to make great HDR photos. You can download the standalone application from the Photomatix website. I use Photomatix Pro for $99. You can save 15% by using the coupon code “HOTSHOTPHOTO”. If you’re just looking to experiment, you can download their free trial version which will leave a watermark on the photo.
Photoshop (recommended) – I only categorize this as recommended because it is possible to create HDR images using only Photomatix, but if you want to get serious about HDR you will need to purchase Photoshop someday. As I will demonstrate later in this tutorial, we will use Photoshop to make corrections to the Photomatix image using Mask Layers.
Lightroom (recommended) – Although Lightroom is optional, I use it to make final edits and adjustments in the final stages of post-processing. And I love it. You can buy Lightroom from Adobe for $299. Again, if you’re just looking to experiment, you can download the free trial or use other free photo editing tools.
Topaz Adjust (optional) – Topaz adjust is great for adding a little extra “pop” and detail to your photos. It isn’t necessary, but I use it often and highly recommend it. You can buy it from the Topaz website for $39.99.