Home Photography Lighting HDR Interior Photography Tutorial and Great Example Photos

HDR Interior Photography Tutorial and Great Example Photos

8 min read

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography has become a very popular type of photography. In fact, many professional photographers are now shooting HDR interior photography as opposed to using flashes.

Before HDR came around, photographers had to set up a room with multiple flashes and strobes pointed at different elements in the room just to get the lighting perfect throughout the whole space. The problem with this is that it takes a lot of set up time and multiple shots of trial and error to get the best shot. With the invention of HDR photography those days are now over, at least for some.

Unfortunately, when most people hear the term HDR they immediately think of a highly processed, unrealistic looking photo. That’s because a lot of photographers have been using this technique in an artistic fashion and pushing it to its limits.

If used correctly, HDR can produce amazing interior and exterior photographs that look as real as if you were standing in the scene itself. And, the best part is that no one would ever think you used HDR techniques unless you told them.

HDR has become popular for interior photography because it enables you to produce images that capture much more details in the highlights, shadows and midtones of a photo, which results in a closer interpretation of what can be seen by the human eye. The two major benefits of using HDR for interior photographs are that you can work very fast (without having to set up a ton of gear) and it can give you exactly the kind of look you are after. A definite win, win situation!

How Do You Capture HDR Interior Photography?

HDR photography is actually a lot simpler than you may think. Instead of capturing one image you are actually going to capture a “scene” of images (five in total) with two photographs taken on either side of a proper exposure that are one stop apart.


Here are the steps you will need to take while on location.

  1. A tripod is essential for HDR photography. No movement whatsoever can occur from your camera. Set up your camera on a tripod and then compose the interior shot.
  2. Adjust the exposure on the camera so that it produces a properly exposed photograph (one that is not too dark or too bright).
  3. Take a picture
  4. Now, adjust your camera settings so that it is one stop under exposed (-1). If shooting on automatic or priority mode use the exposure compensation feature. If shooting in manual mode use a faster shutter speed.
  5. Take a picture
  6. Adjust you camera so that it is now two stops under exposed (-2).
  7. Take a picture
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 in the other direction. Capture the same photo with an exposure setting of +1 and +2. After you are done you will end up with five photographs.

Taking five photographs is required because this allows you to capture the fine details within the full dynamic range of the photo. The under exposed images bring out the details in the highlights while the over exposed images reveal details in the shadows. This is something that cannot be done with a single snapshot unless multiple flashes are used to properly balance the scene.

Combining the Images for Full Effect

Now that you have your five photographs all you need to do is combine them together to create the full effect. This is done by importing them into an HDR software program.

The two most popular software programs for HDR photography are Photoshop and Photomatix. Each software combines the important details from each of the five exposures you took.

In Photoshop all you have to do is go to File > Automate > Merge to HDR. Select your photos and let the process begin.

Photomatix is just as simple. Just import the photos and let it do the work for you. What’s great about Photomatix is that 99% of the time the default settings usually work fine. Many photographers that use Photomatix for their HDR photography do still use Photoshop to add some additional tweaks and finishing touches to the image such as burning and dodging or color enhancements.

Some Examples of Interior HDR Photos

hdr anwar vazquez
Photo by anwarvazquez

hdr kratka
Photo by Kratka Photography

hdr kratka
Photo by Kratka Photography

hdr spodzone
Photo by spodzone

hdr photowolfe
Photo by photowolfe

hdr parks
Photo by D.H. Parks

hdr atmtx
Photo by atmtx

Well, that’s it for this tutorial on HDR interior photography. Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this technique and experiences using it yourself.


  1. AlexJB

    July 3, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    A great straitforward explanation of good use of HDR thank you

    Also worth a mention is that Paint Shop Pro has this facility and is also easy to use.

  2. […] well written piece is accented with a great set of images to get the mind working on this concept.HDR Interior Photography Tutorial and Great Example Photos – this simple tutorial is accompanied by some great photographs showing the reader how to […]

  3. […] learn more about mastering this technique, be sure to check out our HDR Photography Tutorial and HDR Video Tutorials: Creating High Dynamic Range […]

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