How to Capture Amazing HDR Drone Photos & Save Time Editing

CEO Khai Intela
Capturing stunning HDR drone photos can take your photography skills to new heights. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, allows you to achieve balanced exposure even in challenging lighting scenarios. Whether you're shooting during sunrise or...

Capturing stunning HDR drone photos can take your photography skills to new heights. HDR, or High Dynamic Range, allows you to achieve balanced exposure even in challenging lighting scenarios. Whether you're shooting during sunrise or sunset or facing direct sunlight, HDR can help you avoid blown-out highlights and dark shadows. In this article, we'll explore how to shoot HDR photos with a drone and efficiently edit them to save time.

What is HDR and Why Do You Need It?

HDR refers to the difference between the lightest highlights and darkest shadows in a photo. In certain lighting situations, it's nearly impossible to capture a perfectly exposed image. However, by taking multiple photos at different exposures and combining them, you can achieve a well-balanced photo. Let's take a look at some examples from a commercial real estate shoot in Draper, Utah.

Dronegenuity Image: Dronegenuity

How to Shoot HDR Photos

To shoot HDR photos with your drone, ensure that you set your camera to manual mode and capture RAW photos. There are a few options for capturing HDR shots:

  1. HDR Shooting Mode: Some drones offer an HDR shooting mode that automatically takes bracketed photos and combines them into one HDR image. This mode is quick and easy, but you have limited control over the final result.

  2. Auto-Exposure Bracketing (AEB): By setting your camera to AEB mode, it will capture 3 or 5 photos in quick succession at varying exposures. You can later process these photos into an HDR image, fine-tuning each shot as you go. AEB mode provides more control over the final outcome.

  3. Manual Exposure Bracketing: In situations where the lighting difference is significant, you can manually change the exposure between each photo. This method offers the most control but increases the risk of camera movement.

I recommend using AEB mode as it captures multiple photos rapidly, reducing the chances of camera movement. It also provides a sufficient range of exposures to correctly expose both shadows and highlights.

Combining HDR Photos

To merge the bracketed photos into one HDR image, you can use programs like Photoshop or Lightroom. Although other software options exist, Photoshop and Lightroom are widely regarded as reliable tools for HDR processing.

In Lightroom:

  1. Import the photos into Lightroom.
  2. Select all the bracketed photos and right-click.
  3. Choose "Photo Merge" followed by "HDR."
  4. A dialog box will appear with various options. "Auto-Align" corrects minor camera movements, while "Auto-Tone" adjusts the image automatically. You can compare the auto-tone results and make further edits if necessary.
  5. Set the deghosting options to reduce subject movement.
  6. Click "Merge" in the bottom right corner to create your new HDR image.

Dronegenuity Image: Dronegenuity

In Photoshop:

  1. Open all the bracketed photos in Camera Raw.
  2. Select the photos you want to merge and right-click.
  3. Choose "Merge to HDR."
  4. A similar dialog box will appear, allowing you to adjust alignment and deghosting settings.
  5. Once you've made your selections, click "Merge" and save the new image to your desired location.

Dronegenuity Image: Dronegenuity

Now you have a stunning HDR image ready for further edits and enhancements.

Streamlining the Editing Process

If you have a large quantity of HDR photos to process, using Lightroom can be a time-saving option. Lightroom allows you to treat groups of photos as "stacks," making it easier to apply settings to multiple images simultaneously. Here's how you can make the most of this feature:

  1. Import all your photos into Lightroom.
  2. Select all the photos and right-click.
  3. Choose "Stacking" and then "Auto-stack by Capture Time."
  4. Adjust the time interval between stacks to match the number of photos you took.
  5. Once you have your stacks, right-click and select "Collapse All Stacks" for better visibility.
  6. Process the first HDR photo as usual.
  7. Select the next stack and press CTRL + Shift + H to paste the previous HDR settings onto the next stack.
  8. Repeat this process for all your stacks, and Lightroom will process them in one go.

Dronegenuity Image: Dronegenuity

This efficient method allows you to process a large quantity of HDR photos accurately, saving you valuable time.

Start Capturing Amazing HDR Drone Photos Today

Now that you're equipped with the knowledge of capturing and editing HDR drone photos, it's time to unleash your creativity. Don't hesitate to try different techniques and share your stunning results with us!

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