My goal with this series of articles is to explain everything I’ve learnt about creating HDRIs in order to try and raise the standard of quality of HDRIs shared online.

It’s not difficult to make an HDRI that’s good enough for your own use, but if you want to make really good HDRIs that provide accurate and dependable lighting no matter the use case, you need to thoroughly understand every step of the process and how it will affect the outcome.

I’m only going to cover only the basics here, and then follow up with a number of smaller articles for specific situations in order to avoid going on too many tangents. A list of these articles can be found at the end, though some of the articles will be linked to throughout as well.

Read More

As you know, it is absolutely imperative that the light sources in an HDRI are not clipped.

In some indoor cases, this is fairly easy to achieve even accidentally, but as soon as you go outdoors and try to shoot the sun directly you’ll realize how absurdly bright it really is, and how difficult it is to shoot without careful thought and planning.

Even at my camera’s darkest exposure settings – 1/4000, F/22 and ISO 100 – the sun is still far too bright to capture without overexposing (clipping) it:

1/4000, F/22, ISO 100

We need to go darker.

Read More

Perhaps one of the most common questions I get asked is “What camera do you use?”.

Usually with any kind of art or industry when people ask what specific brand or model of tool you use, the answer is often “It doesn’t matter, use whatever you’re comfortable with”.

While it’s true that you can create an HDRI with almost any camera, including the one in your phone, if you want to create HDRIs at an acceptable resolution with unlimited dynamic range, there are actually some very specific requirements that not all cameras meet, even really expensive ones.

Apart from the obvious requirements like being able to shoot in RAW with full manual control, there are some aspects of your camera gear that have significant influence over the types of HDRIs you can create, what resolution your HDRIs will be, how long they will take to shoot, or if you can even shoot them at all.

This article will attempt to explain all these aspects and what difference they make.

Read More

If you understand the difference between using a JPG file and a HDR/EXR file for an HDRI, then you already understand clipping 🙂

“Clipping” is when the brightest part of an HDRI is “cut off”, or “burnt out”.

This is usually seen on light sources, like the sun or a bright lamp, and is the result of the HDRI photographer not using a dark enough exposure to capture the light completely.

If you’re an HDRI photographer and you want to learn how to avoid clipping, read this article next.

Read More