Figure 6.40. You'll end up with an extended dynamic range photo like this one.

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1. Set your camera up on a tripod to hold it steady for the individual shots. The photos must be as close to identicalother than exposureas possible.

2. Prepare to take two or three photos at different exposure times. You should vary the shutter speed, rather than the lens opening, because changing the aperture will modify the depth-of-field and may change the apparent size of some components of the photo, such as points of light. If your camera has a bracketing command, you can use that to change the shutter speed between shots only if your camera allows relatively large exposure increments, such as 1 EV between bracketed shots. Generally, most cameras bracket using smaller 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps that are not suitable for Exposuremerge.

3. Make the individual photos at least one or two EV steps apart, such as 1/60th second for the first and 1/250th second for the next, and perhaps 1/15th second for the third. Smaller increments will provide little extra information for Exposuremerge to work with; larger increments may create photo sets that are so far apart in exposure that there is not sufficient overlap to produce a smooth tonal range.

4. Save in RAW or TIFF format in your camera so you'll get full-range, 16-bit/channel images, rather than the 8-bit/channel images created by JPEG. However, if Exposuremerge works with 8-bit/channel images, it will combine them into one new 16-bit/channel image using the HDR capabilities.

5. If you use an application to transfer the files to your computer, make sure it does not make any adjustments to brightness, contrast, or exposure. You want the real raw information for Exposuremerge to work with. You'll end up with two photos like the ones shown in Figures 6.37 and 6.38.

6. Activate Exposuremerge by choosing File > Automate > Merge to HDR.

7. Select the photos to be merged, as shown in Figure 6.39.

6. Once Exposure merge has done its thing, you must save in .PSD, .PFM, .TIFF, or .EXR formats to retain the floating point data, in case you want to work with the HDR image later on. Otherwise, you can convert to a normal 24-bit file and save in any compatible format.

If you do everything correctly, you'll end up with a photo like the one shown in Figure 6.40, which has the properly exposed foreground of the first shot, and the well-exposed sky of the second image. Note that, ideally, nothing should move between shots. In the example pictures, the river is moving, but the exposures were made so close together that, after the merger, you can't really tell.

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