HDR photography using a Samsung NX1000

A lot of people have been asking me how do I do my HDR photography using a Samsung NX1000? I am new to writing tutorials so forgive me if this does not help you in any way? 😉
I will say that although this is mainly aimed at a Samsung NX1000 user, of course parts of it might interest anyone who is getting into HDR photography and wants to see what I do POST producing the basic HDR shot?

Firstly what is HDR?

HDR or High Dynamic Range Photography is the process of taking 3 or more exposures at different levels/values and then merging them to produce stunning images. These images generally have more light and detail in them due to capturing a greater range of light to dark. HDR can be used in a few different ways to help you with getting that shot you want. Have you ever taken a shot of a stunning landscape that caught your eye, and then had it come out looking flat and dull? That’s because your eyes can see about 11stops of light, but a camera only on average 3!  You will also find that different effects can be achieved using this process too? It is quite simple and you will wonder why you have never done it before if you are into photography and like the effect of HDR or just simply want to learn a useful process for managing light in your photos’.

Here are a few shots I have taken and produced using the 3 exp or more process then merged. Some you will see are more natural than others, this I will come on to later…

Langdales Valley
Langdales Valley – Taken at sunset in the Langdale Valley area of the Lake District, Cumbria. This is an HDR shot using multiple exposures and layers to achieve the image you see now. The Lake District at its best.
Museum Quarter - This HDR shot of the museum quarter and Hull river was taken as you can see on a cloudy day with some great sunny spells. This is a great looking industrial/docklands area of Hull.
Museum Quarter – This HDR shot of the museum quarter and Hull river was taken as you can see on a cloudy day with some great sunny spells. This is a great looking industrial/docklands area of Hull.
Lakes Sunset
Lakes Sunset – A moody sunset taken on Derwent water, Lake District. The shadows on the jetty and the hills in the background all add to the whole atmosphere of this image.

As you will hopefully see, these images stand out with that extra bit of wow factor?

The Tutorial

Step 1: Setup the NX1000
Step 2: Take your bracketed shots
Step 3: Edit your shots
Step 4: Post Photomatix processing
Step 5: The finished article

The software I use for this:

Photomatix is the main bit of software for HDR, if you are familiar with this and the software above, most of which is available as a trial etc, then goto step 1 of my process, if not then may I introduce you to an excellent beginners guide to HDR and also the photographer who first inspired me to try HDR. His name is Tray Ratcliff and he has an excellent HDR tutorial that you should read it is available here and for free.

Now you have the basics and the software I hope? In fact if you are still reading this then thanks haha. Ok so here is what I do to achieve the same effects with the Samsung NX1000.

Step 1: Setup the NX1000

Firstly we have to set up the NX100 to take auto bracketed pictures, the Samsung can auto bracket 3 different exposures. In most cases this is all you need. However if you want more brackets then you will have to manually take those exposures.

1. Select Bracket Set - NX1000 - Access the menu system to do this.
1. Select Bracket Set – NX1000 – Access the menu system to do this.
2. Select AE Bracket Set and Set Bracket Order and Bracket area - NX1000 - Set this to +-2, this will give you 3 shots,1 at -2, 1 at 0, and 1 at +2ev.
2. Select AE Bracket Set and Set Bracket Order and Bracket area – NX1000 – Set this to +-2, this will give you 3 shots,1 at -2, 1 at 0, and 1 at +2ev.
3. Put the camera into Aperture Mode - NX1000 - I always shoot my HDR shots an aperture mode and set the aperture to my desired requirement.
3. Put the camera into Aperture Mode – NX1000 – I always shoot my HDR shots an aperture mode and set the aperture to my desired requirement.
4. Select shooting mode as AE Bracket - NX1000 - Now take your shots, select the shooting mode to AE bracket and your NX1000 will now take 3 bracketed shots.
4. Select shooting mode as AE Bracket – NX1000 – Now take your shots, select the shooting mode to AE bracket and your NX1000 will now take 3 bracketed shots.

Step 2: Take your bracketed shots

Now I do not confess to be an expert in HDR, but I do know the really important stuff. A big one being always shoot on a tripod when you can, in fact unless you have excellent light you will need a tripod. Why I hear you ask? Basically for two reasons, one, you want to merge these 3 frames later so the closer they all are to being the same frame the better the result. Two, you are going to be shooting one of the frames at a +2 exposure which will make the camera keep the lens open that bit longer. You don’t want any movement when this happens or your great shot becomes useless… Another big thing is your ISO setting. HDR shots will increase noise. So make sure that your base shots are set at iso100, this will help with the end result.

With the Samsung NX1000 my normal settings for shooting HDR are as follows:

5. Other NX1000 settings - F?? your choice, ISO100,  Auto White Balance, RAW Quality, Single Auto Focus, Single Point focus selection, Multi Metering light balance.
5. Other NX1000 settings – F?? your choice, ISO100, Auto White Balance, RAW Quality, Single Auto Focus, Single Point focus selection, Multi Metering light balance.

Obviously different conditions or settings might require a tweak or two? This will depend on you really. The camera will automatically work out the exposure times for you when set up like this.

Step 3: Edit your shots

As said above I use 3 main bits of software and associated Plugins for this…

Below you can see most of my steps/workflow taken to achieve the end result, I will explain a little on each step but if you want any more information then please ask in a comment.

6. Export to Photomatix
6. Export to Photomatix

When you install Photomatix it gives you an option to include the Lightroom 5 plugin. This Plugin allows you to export directly from Lightroom to Photomatix. If you have used Photomatix before then you will know that it basically takes all the hassle out of merging your frames into one HDR shot and to apply some processing like tone mapping etc. When exporting you have various options:

  • Align Images – Here you select how you want the software to handle your images, I always have this ticked and then select if it was taken on a tripod or handheld etc.
  • Show Options to remove Ghosts – This is a useful tool that will allow you to fix a ghosted part of the image, for example if you have something in the image that was moving whilst you took the multiple frames it will allow you to mark it and attempt to eliminate the issue.
  • Reduce Noise – does what it says on the tin. The software has a built-in noise reduction function that can help deal with the extra noise you will get on HDR shots, personally I only ever have this set to underexposed frames.
  • Reduce chromatic abrasions – It will try to deal with any anomalies that your camera and lens might produce. I always have this on.

You will see above I have the 3 frames selected and my settings set how I want them. So I click Export…

7. Choose your settings in Photomatix
7. Choose your settings in Photomatix

Photomatix will now open and import and merge your selected frames. No ghosting options here as I have nothing that moved from frame to frame.  I am using the latest version (version 5) here and this has some very good presets already, you will se them on the right panel, on the left panel is where you can tweak and play with more settings. If using the default preset then the only things I tweak are the following:

  • Strength – How strong do you want the tonemapping/HDR effect?
  • Colour Saturation – Change as you so desire, personally I leave this at default as I correct or adjust after Photomatix.
  • Tone Compression – Adjust this to get the desired look you want.
  • Detail Contrast – I never tweak this, leave at default.
  • Lighting Adjustments – Once again tweak this to get it how you want, to quote Trey Ratcliff “Let’s just call this the “druggie slider” — the more to the left, the more “on-drugs” it is!”

There are lots of setting other than this, but for me that is all I ever change, or really understand to be honest!

Once you are happy with how it looks here you can then ‘save and re-import’ this will place your photo back in to Lightroom…

8. Tweak the photo in Lightroom
8. Tweak the photo in Lightroom

Ok, so now we have our created HDR photo in Lightroom. For me this is now when I might use Lightroom to tweak the image, maybe adjust exposure etc. You will all have your own ways with lightroom so I will not bore you with mine. Basically if you wanted you can stop here? You have produced your HDR image from your Samsung NX1000 and can now show it off to whoever you wish?

Or..

Step 4: Post Photomatix processing

If you are like me though you might want to edit it a bit more, really give it that extra wow factor? Read on and I will show you the extra steps I generally always take…

9. Open in Photoshop and selecting the sky only.
9. Open in Photoshop and selecting the sky only.

I love a great landscape HDR with big dramatic clouds, due to this though I tend to end up with a lot of noise in the darker parts of the clouds and want to fix this. The way I do this is to open up the image in Photoshop and rather than just noise reduce the whole image I will select say the cloud and sky area (using Photoshops great selection tools) so I can apply noise reduction to them only. You will see above that I have just the sky and clouds selected ready for noise removal. Then I use a plugin called Noiseware 5, Its a great little tool see below…

10. Using Noiseware to remove noise in sky
10. Using Noiseware to remove noise in sky

Noiseware 5 by Imagenomics, is my preference for removing noise from any image, having selected just the sky I then use the desired preset to remove any noise. For this image just the ‘landscape’ preset was all I needed.

Next…

11. Add effects and enhance.
11. Add effects and enhance.

I like to use NIK’s (now owned by Google) Colour Efex plugin for Photoshop. This plugin has lots of great presets that can assist you in really making that picture stand out from the crowd! It allows you to stack individual effects to achieve your desired goal. On this picture I wanted to do the following, warm it up a bit to bring out the sunshine, bring out the detail even more, then add a vignette to focus you on the middle of the image. Once I have the desired look and feel I apply this…

12. Layer work and masking.
12. Layer work and masking.

Being the perfectionist a bit on this shot, although I liked the fact It warmed the image up etc, but I didn’t like the fact it introduced to much of a tint on the clouds (see image 11). To overcome this I used the layer mask function so I could ‘paint in’ the sky from the base layer, at the same time I also fixed some halo issues that can be produced in the HDR process.

13. Sharpening the final Image.
13. Sharpening the final Image.

And finally, one thing I tend to always do before I post my images up online to show them off or even sell them is apply a bit of sharpening. I use NIK’s plugin for this but, you can do it in Photoshop or Lightroom? However you normally do it I guess?

So there you have it, this is how I achieved the picture you see below.

Step 5: The finished article

Llynnau Cregennen View HDR - Taken in the Snowdonia National Park, this 3 exp HDR shot looks out over the surrounding and stunning landscape of this lovely part of Wales.
Llynnau Cregennen View HDR – Taken in the Snowdonia National Park, this 3 exp HDR shot looks out over the surrounding and stunning landscape of this lovely part of Wales.

8 thoughts on “HDR photography using a Samsung NX1000

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  • March 22, 2015 at 12:48 am
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    I have a Samsung NX1000 & I have struggled to find tutorials. I’m a real novice. So thank you so much for the tips here, you have helped so much. The photos you have produced are outstanding. I’m now going to get snapping 🙂

    Reply
    • March 22, 2015 at 10:31 am
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      No problem, glad I could help you, even if a little bit.

      Reply
  • March 27, 2015 at 9:48 am
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    Hello, this was really helpful and amazing as I bought my camera just as a begginer to try this, I was wondering what lenses you used to take these wonderful pictures?

    Reply
    • March 27, 2015 at 11:27 am
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      Hey there, thank you. At the time when I wrote this I had only 2 lenses, the stock lens that came with camera 20-50mm and the 16mm prime. I was only a beginner/intermediate too, at the time. Its a great learning camera.

      Reply
  • July 21, 2015 at 3:07 am
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    Thank you so much for your great tutorials, I have this camera myself and I am eager to learn how to use it far from the smart mode only 🙂 your photos are phenomenal.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2016 at 10:04 pm
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    Hey Andi,
    Good article here. I was looking for some information on the samsung nx1000 since i got it a couple of years ago. Gonna try these tips and see how it goes. Thank you again.

    Reply

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