In-body stabilization (IBIS) is one of the big reasons I continue to use the micro
When I first starting using the Olympus O-MD E-MH Mk. II, it was a huge leap forward in terms of features and functionality. Prior, I was using the Olympus E-PL5 and the Panasonic GF3. These cameras had basic functionality and didn’t really offer things such as live composition or in-camera bracketing. With the E-M5 II, I started to play around with bracketing. Unfortunately, the limitation wasn’t the camera but my skills. I didn’t know very much about photography techniques, including stacking these bracketed shots. In addition, I never really processed files using Lightroom CC Classic. I only really got into processing photos in the last two or three years and started off with the newer version of Lightroom CC. Lightroom CC as it was back then didn’t really come with so many of the features that photographers enjoy in Classic.
Now in February 2019, Adobe release an update to include the ability to photo merge. I had installed and opened Classic last year purely to use the photo merge in some of my photos in Colorado. However, when I returned from Vietnam, I was merging photos right in Lightroom CC.
Quickly Googling for “handheld bracket” or “handheld HDR” doesn’t come back with many results – which is why I decided to write this. I think the most influential search result I found was on DP Review. This is what kind of sparked me into trying this out. I don’t have much experience outside of micro four thirds, but I can say I have been satisfied with my handheld shots for bracketing. Note, I’m not arguing it’s better than using a tripod. I also shoot bracketed shots using my tripod when it’s convenient. The thing is – I don’t normally travel or shoot in a way where a tripod is particularly useful.
Bracketing on a tripod
To set a baseline, below is an HDR image I stacked from a tripod shot. The benefits of using the tripod mean the only ghosting that I dealt with in the photo-merge came from the window blowing the plants and the subjects (my friends and I) jumping. Everything else seems pretty sharp and I could recover a lot of information from the resulting stacked image. It’ll be a good baseline for us to review just how much we lose if we handhold.
The shot below was taken handheld. It was at a park that bordered a lake with suburban development across from the lake. It’s not the most interesting composition but I liked how the stacking allowed me to try out some processing with HDR images.
Let’s take a set of photos and try this out. I use Lightroom CC (not classic edition). It was
If you want to try this out yourself with the raw files, you can download them here. These photographs were shot during the mid-afternoon, which means the lighting isn’t the greatest. One of them is pretty much a white photograph due to the exposure. Below is
So let’s take them over to Lightroom CC. One of the strengths of the processing technique is the better dynamic range to save the darker shadows and brighter highlights. Below is an album showing us the amount of
I chose low and ended up with this photo.
At the end of this little experiment, we have a photo with a lot of room for post processing. While there are some folks that look at HDR images and think overexposed I enjoy the extra flexibility we get after stacking exposures.
I’m not professional so there could be a lot wrong with this guide. I hope that by writing out my thought process, I can learn and collect feedback. If you have any comments, definitely comment below or message me on Instagram, @boni_photos.