Quick HDR on the go using Auto-Bracketing

This HDR technique is great for the quick shot when you don’t have access to a tripod. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. An HDR photograph properly exposes the light and dark area’s of a photograph. Creating HDR images requires you to snap a series of photos at different exposures, then merging them into a single photo in a post-production software.

I am going to show you how you can create a quick HDR photo using your camera’s auto-bracketing feature, then combining the exposures in Adobe Photoshop which will automatically align your exposures.

My father just purchased a tractor for his hunting property and wanted me to take a couple of pics of it at the house before it went out to the property. The sun had some harsh lighting that was beating from the west, creating some very dark shadows. I always shoot RAW which allows me to have some more creative control over my photo’s, and I could’ve just lightened the shadows up in Photoshop, but I wanted to showcase some of the parts under the hood that were very dark.

Without lugging out a tripod and snapping 5 different exposures, I used the auto-bracketing feature on my camera. Auto-bracketing allows you to snap 3 consecutive shots in a burst. I specified 1 exposure value as my setting for the auto-bracketing. This means that the camera will shoot one photo at the normal exposure I am using, then (1) photo at -1 exposure value lower and and +1 exposure value higher than my “normal” exposure. When shooting, remember to stay as still as possible during the 3 shots.


Here are the 3 shots:
“Normal Exposure”

Original Exposure - HDR


-1 Exposure

2nd Exposure of HDR -1 EV


+1 Exposure

3rd Exposure of HDR -1 EV

If you open photoshop, go to FILE > AUTOMATE > MERGE TO HDR PRO

HDR Auto Bracketing then merging in Adobe Photoshop


Then BROWSE for your files, load them, then hit OK

Browse HDR Photoshop

You will then see a screen with options to increase exposure, detail, saturation, etc. Once finished, hit OK and photoshop will automatically align your photographs for you, then merge them together. You can perform some other enhancements to finalize the photo as well.


Here is the final image:

HDR photograph with auto bracketing technique

Related posts:

The Load

The Farmhouse (HDR)

The Rustic Barn (HDR)

Asylum by Drew Geraci (Timelapse)


  1. Rex McDaniel - reply

    I do this with my Panasonic FZ40 which does have auto bracketing. I also so do it with my Nikon D60 which does not have this feature. I make one exposure at the metered settings, then do one overexposed and one underexposed by setting the exposure manually. Sometimes I even do it handheld. I use the focus indicators on my view screen to line up the shots. I try to get one or maybe even two of the focus indicators on some prominent feature in the scene, and be sure I use the same framing each time. Not perfect, but works pretty well.

    • PhotoPeka - reply

      The auto-bracketing works well when you don’t have a tripod and the time to manually set the shot up. You don’t need to be exact when lining your images up, let post-production software such as photoshop do that duty!

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