Hello Everyone, So you know those awesome images with bright colors and crazy dark shadows… Like me, I bet you wonder how the heck people achieve that. The secret is HDR Drone Photography and Video with AEB… Lets dive in!

What is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The dynamic range is the difference between the lightest highlight and the darkest shadow in a photo. 

In certain lighting scenarios, usually during sunrise or sunset or shooting directly into the sun, no matter what your camera settings are, it is impossible to avoid having blown out highlights or completely black shadows. 

One solution for this is taking several photos at different exposures and compositing them together to make one, evenly exposed photo.

How to shoot HDR with your DRONE?

My first piece of advice is to always make sure your drone is set to shoot in manual, and it is taking raw photos. Here are a few steps that may help.

The first option is to set your shooting mode to HDR.

This is the simple and easy way to get a quick HDR photo. Your camera will automatically take bracketed photos and combine them into one HDR photo every time you click the shutter. A couple examples of drones that have auto HDR are the DJI Mavic Air and the GoPro Karma.

But with the built in HDR mode there is one thing I don’t like. You have no control over the processing of the image. You only get one already processed photo to work with.  The photo usually does turn out great though. The downfall of this approach is that not all drones have the HDR option built in.

The second option is to have the camera take several bracketed photos.

These photos are taken at different exposures and you have to process them into HDR photos later on in your editing software.  

Most drones like the DJI Spark, DJI Mavic Air have a setting to shoot  AEB,  which stands for Auto-Exposure Bracketing. To do this you have to simply change the shooting mode to AEB. I usually use my DJI drones to do AEB.. This setting makes your camera take 3 or 5 photos in quick succession at varying exposures every time you click the shutter.

These photos will make one HDR image once merged in your editing software. You can fine-tune each of the photos as you process them.

The only issue with this option is that you cannot change the different exposures that your drone takes in AEB mode. The drone camera will automatically choose to take a photo one step above or below the correctly exposed photo.

I recommend learning  the second option which i’m also learning myself.

AEB mode is very helpful because it captures several photos very quickly. This eliminates a lot of movement between the photos. In most lighting scenarios the AEB process is able to get a large enough range of exposures to correctly expose for both the shadows and the highlights.

Creating the HDR image in the editing software gives the photographer enough control of the situation to get a good result. Doing HDR this way still takes advantage of some of the drone’s automated functions that can help to eliminate human era. This is why I still use AEB on the drone until I feel comfortable getting the shots manually.

There is so much to learn when taking HDR Drone Photography and Video. This is my understanding on how it works so far.  Since summer is finally here I will be playing with HDR setting a lot more.

Visit my Instagram to see my feed and my IGTV video.

To be honest, this is a process I am still learning and working on currently. So if you have any tips please drop them in comment box below.