Fuji X-T2 - High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

The Fuji X-T2 introduced improvements in Auto Exposure Bracketing allowing up to + or - 2EV across 3 exposures. Each time the shutter button is pressed the X-T2 takes three shots; one at the metered exposure the second overexposed and the third underexposed.

Setting up the X-T2

I set the X-T2 to shoot in RAW + JPG fine (RAW F mode) in the Quick Menu and set the Drive Dial to the BKT setting.

In the 'Shooting Menu' (indicated by a camera icon) select 'Drive Setting' -> 'BKT Setting' -> 'BKT Select' -> Select 'AE BKT'

Under the 'BKT Setting' menu you can select 'AE BKT' and change this to the +/- 2 setting

Bracketed JPG and RAW shots

I took this shot of a Robin in Regents Park, London. Taken with a Fuji 56mm f1.2 @ 1.2 - This is a challenging shot for HDR as the Robin might have moved a little and the camera was hand-held.

I understand that this particular scene does not necessarily require the latitude of HDR but it serves to demonstrate the principles and the advantages and disadvantages of file formats and HDR programs

Click on the images for larger versions

JPG images - Fujifilm Velvia Film Simulation

RAW images

HDR Editing

Adobe Lightroom

In April 2015 Adobe added an exciting (for some) feature to Lightroom that allowed multiple files to be merged to HDR (or Panorama)

This feature allows the photographer to merge multiple RAW files into an 'HDR RAW' file or JPG files into a DNG. Simply select the images that you would like to merge, right click and select 'Photo Merge' -> HDR

Lightroom opens a simple dialogue box that allows for basic auto tone, auto alignment and levels of De-Ghosting

  • Auto Tone balances the tone in the output file
  • Auto Alignment deals with any camera movement, De-Select if you shot on a tripod to save time in the rendering process
  • De-Ghosting attempts to remove any artefacts that would be caused by movement in the scene. In my experience low or medium work very well in most situations.

Merging JPG files creates a DNG file which looks pleasing without much further editing

DNG file created by Merge to HDR in Adobe Lightroom

Merging RAW files creates a 'Super' RAW whose pixels can take a lot of punishment. I made some basic edits to the merged file

  • Color Balance to 'Cloudy'
  • Gentle 's shaped' tone curve to lift the contrast
  • vignetting increased to burn in the edges slightly
  • Fuji Classic Chrome Simulation
  • sharpening

The resulting image works very well, and the added tolerance in the RAW file after HDR Merge allows for greater tonal control

Bracketed RAW files merged in Adobe Lightroom

Aurora 2017

New kid on the block Aurora 2017 is a full featured HDR Application developed by Trey Radcliff (Who put HDR on the map) and Macphun.

It works both stand alone and as a plugin for Lightroom. The multiple pre-sets and intuitive interface make this worth looking at for beginners but it also has depth with multiple high end features.

Aurora 2017 - HDR based on 3 bracketed JPG files

The number of HDR applications can be a little overwhelming but the new features of Lightroom will give you a good idea of the usefulness of this technique and the resulting RAW files give a huge amount of flexibility for post shoot editing. HDR does not have to be garish and over-processed although Aurora 2017 will happily let you 'play' in the surreal.

You should take a look at Trey's site for inspiration and also look at these HDR Applications which offer solid features. NIKs HDR Efex pro is now free!