On the fifth day of Christmas… Stuck In Customs

trey-ratcliffToday is day five and I have another gift for all the HDR fans out there.  Today’s winner will receive a download copy of my friend Trey’s HDR Workshop video.  Oh, and one of his eBooks!

To win this gift, comment below stating your biggest struggle with HDR photography.

I will use random.org to pick a winner.  Please use a working email address, otherwise a new winner will be picked.  (Double bonus fun points if you tweet this post to your friends… I will still be picking at random but it doesn’t hurt to share)


The easiest way to find out about the next free photography gift is to subscribe to my blog via RSS or Email

This Post Has 136 Comments

  1. My biggest struggle in HDR photography, is getting started and finding a free software package that i like. Ive had a LOT of starts and stops.

  2. biggest struggle: figuring out my ‘style’ – do I want to be the really bright color guy? the really dark image guy? the person who takes shots and makes them totally natural looking…etc

  3. Scott,

    Thanks for your generosity…I am a huge Fan of Treys as well…would love to learn his methods via video…fingers crossed.

    Jim Nyland

  4. My biggest struggle is taking the shots (at times). My camera doesn’t have auto bracketing, so I have to choose my subjects wisely. Granted, I like the challenge and all, but sometimes I get more blur and ghosting than I would like.

  5. My biggest struggle is finding enough time to keep going out and taking more photographs!

  6. Biggest struggle is to not to get stale. Seeing Trey’s (or any other photographer’s) techniques in action will help keep my head and images full of new ideas.

  7. My biggest struggle is finding my own style.

  8. My biggest struggle with HDR is actually remembering to utilize it’s functionality in some of my work, in a more subtle manner. I rarely use HDR, partly because of the prep time it takes to setup and take the shot and then the work required in post.

  9. My biggest struggle is the finishing post-processing after tone-mapping, all local adjustments, proper saturation of colors and contrast.

  10. Halos in the sky! I find that I consistently have the haloing issue. I’ll get building looking exactly the way I want, only to see the dreaded halo around it in the sky!

  11. I think my biggest struggle with HDR is trying to keep the photos somewhat realistic. I wrestle with going a bit crazy and “overdoing” a shot versus trying to tone it down. I do know that at the end of the day it’s my decision because it’s MY art, but it’s still difficult sometimes to judge.

  12. I have totally fallen in love with HDR and have now shot lots of brackets, but have yet to give it a shot. I have CS2 and I’m scared to try.

  13. Keeping it real. It’s difficult to find the line between flat and cartoony.

  14. Since I shoot Canon, I think a Promote Control would speed up the capture part, but the other issue is the shear number of sliders in photomatix and not always being able to see the subtle effects they have on each other. I wonder if in future versions, there will be a way to hover/highlight which pixels are being affected by an individual slider, sort of like the adjustment brush in Lightroom.

  15. my biggest challenge in HDR is not making it look like a cartoon.

  16. My biggest struggle is with the evening and twilight shots. I can’t seem to avoid the halos around the lights.

  17. Those damn halos !!!

  18. My biggest struggle, aside from finding time to do all the shooting I want to do, is dealing with highlights. The base tone mapping settings I typically use have a habit of blowing out bright highlights and I’m constantly searching for ways to maintain the feel of the rest of the image while reducing or eliminating the blow-outs.

    (Sorry if this appears twice – my initial attempt to post using my Twitter ID hung)

  19. I struggle with getting enough brackets due to limitations of my gear.

  20. i agree with the halo statement..

  21. My biggest problem is trying not to over HDR the image (not sure if that is a technical term or not) I try to find the right balance of making the image look surreal but not too much or making it look too natural.

  22. It’Is very hard make it look realistic and not a surreal thing

  23. My biggest problems are halos and the right balance between great and too much…

  24. My biggest struggle right now is making the image pop without overdoing it.

  25. I have such a hard time with using the tone compressor features. I’d like more natural looking images.

  26. My biggest struggle with HDR is my Nikon D90 allowing 3 brackets. Yes, I know how to work around this but just touching the camera is troublesome when shooting

  27. My biggest struggle is finding “my look” of whether an image goes over the top and looks ‘fake’ or to keep the processing subtle to make it look ‘natural’ …

  28. My biggest struggle with HDR photography is making sure my brackets have the details I want, and doing the post processing currently.

  29. my biggest struggle with hdr? photomatix. Lots of possibilities, but really not intuitive user experience.

  30. Sky is often the most difficult to adjust in HDR.

  31. I agree with the above statements, about trying to find a balance between real and surreal.

  32. Biggest HDR struggle:
    Making it look like what I see in my mind, more like realistic high range than full blown HDR.

  33. Trying to get natural looking images without an over-processed look.

  34. Biggest Struggle: In a way, style, I tend to overdo some of the time & make some bad color decisions…

  35. My biggest problem with HDR is the issue of getting whites, white. Too often my merged images containing a white subject, as in say a white sailboat, becomes too grungy. In general I like the rest of the scene, but the whites are horrible.


  36. Just beginning and unsure where to begin!! I need to do more reading and tutorials!!

  37. I can’t seem to get the clarity and luminance in the shadow areas. They always come out flat and grayish, with no detail. Help!

  38. Striking the right balance between under-do / over-do

  39. my biggest HDR struggle is, I just can’t getting good settings in Photomatix….. I just can’t get em right.

  40. My struggle with HDR is how far should i go when editing a hdr photo. Too much and it seams unreal, too little and it becomes kind of boring old photo. I need to find the right balance.

  41. My biggest HDR problem is getting (and knowing that I’ve gotten) a properly exposed image set.

  42. My biggest struggle in HDR Photography? Fighting off the HDR-haters ;)

  43. Trying to find a nice balance in HDR.

  44. My biggest struggle with HDR photography is not using a stabilized camera most of the time. The tripod I own is large and heavy and I just don’t care to carry it around with me.

    Outside of that, I struggle with completing the entire workflow process. If something looks off after importing to Photomatix, I tend to give up on the image.

  45. My trouble is evening out the areas. I end up with blotchy parts that I can’t seem to mask well.

  46. I think deciding whether or not to keep the singular images after Processing a 7 picture bracket. Using my 1D Mk IV, It tends to take a lot of space in Raw. So I think my struggle will have to be the workflow process. I think I’ve got the HDR down pretty well. If you want to look and see, here are a couple of examples.


    But I’m always willing to learn new techniques, new ways of doing things, and new tricks that I’ve probably not thought about.

  47. I’m still having post processing noise issues

  48. I am just getting started with HDR and have been looking at this video and would sure love to win it thank you so much for doing this.

  49. Making my images “pop”, without making them EXPLODE!

  50. My biggest struggle with HDR Photography is getting 3 to 5 great shots to work with. I have a great tripod but it is so darn heavy and because of my failed back sugeries I don’t normally take it with me any more. I also have the tendency over saturate into the fake looking side of things. So I need to learn to accurately run Photomatix to make a life like photo.

  51. One of the things that I struggle with when trying to create an amzing HDR photo is a lack of light. Outdoor daytime photos usually come out pretty well but night time or indoor low light photos are quie a struggle. I’m getting better through a ton of trial and error… but its still a struggle.

    1. My biggest struggle with HDR is getting the photo to look like I want. I want the detail but not the over the hill processing.

  52. Skys… I hate skys… unless they are good skys; then I love skys.

  53. I have trouble with the settings on my camera and making the pictures have a realistic effect at the end.

  54. My biggest problem is getting all of the layers to line up well enough to come out right and knowing where to take the photos to get the best results. I’ve tried locations before that look, in my mind, like they would work, but then the final result doesn’t come out right.

  55. Winning this would be perfect since I didn’t get any new photo gear for Xmas this year.

    1. And my biggest struggle is being patient enough to deal with all the post steps to reduce the halos, etc.

  56. My biggest struggle with HDR are blacks that come out to be a different color.. like a purplish blue.

  57. Oh, this would be awesome. Gotta try out my new T1i camera.

  58. My biggest struggle is that I often process an “HDR Lite” and an “HDR Heavy” version of my my images – and I usually like both versions – so which is better?

  59. Awesome. This would be great to win.

  60. I have been told that my HDR pictures are too saturated so I think the video tutorial will help me a lot.

  61. I have such an issue with finding a sweet spot between realistic and too fake looking

  62. I have 2… I really like the HDR effect in portraits, however It does not have the look that I want.. #2 the shaded areas are red and blown out.. Thank you…….

  63. Love HDR unfortunately I’m stuck using a point and Shoot for all my Photograhy, so my biggest challenge is resolution and focus.

  64. My biggest struggle with HDR is getting the look just right between photograph and a painting.

  65. My biggest struggel is to find my own HDR style. I’m a beginner in HDR

  66. My biggest struggle with HDR is finding good locations. I live in the country and find it hard to find something interesting and different.

  67. trying to understand how figures (people) are shown in HDR images, not blurred or HDR’d but the rest of the image is!?

  68. post processing….and finding a look I really like

  69. Finding the time to post-process.

  70. Although I’m getting better at it my two main problems are finding the correct subject matter and the post processing in Photomatix. Compared to other HDR photos I’ve seen on the net, I just can’t get my photos to “pop” like theirs. But every photo taken is one step closer!

  71. My biggest struggle with HDR is to make the finished image look great without making it look like it has been “overcooked.”

  72. Just really want to make real looking HDR photo’s – not over manipulated.

  73. I don’t do a lot of HDR, but I think my biggest issue is noise. HDR seems to make it worse. Ghosting is of course a close second.

  74. My biggest issue with HDR is not making the picks look too gimmicky and figuring out the optimal settings on my slr! I hope I win this it would really help!

  75. My biggest struggle in HDR is simply finding the time and place (composition). I live in the city and would love to do some landscape and sky but there isn’t much of that around here… I’ll be doing a lot of camping this summer though luckily!!!

  76. Trying to get the settings right on my camera and combining them afterwards to get the best results…

  77. Well my biggest struggle with HDR is probably noise, as all the processing does cause noise and if I shoot at an ISO above 200 this shows in my final pictures.

  78. I’m just starting out in HDR and I would say I have a couple of ‘worst’ problems that are equal:
    1) Noise. Photomatix generates a little noise, but I like to run my photos through Topaz Adjust too, and that generates a LOT of noise. One thing, I just thought of actually, might be to run it through to DeNoise before running it through Adjust, then again after. Anyways, DeNoise helps a little, but there seems to always be a little noise left over in the skies. Masking in some of the original brackets will probably help this too… like I said, I’m still new with this.
    2) Too Blurry – I don’t want my photos to look too much like a painting. I think that I’m getting better with this. Too much DeNoise isn’t a good thing. Also, masking in original brackets seems to help a bit too.

    Anyways, thanks for the post and opportunity, Scott!

  79. my biggest problem is making the photo look real, soo much HDR looks too fake these days

  80. I would LOVE to win Trey’s video tutorial!!! Have tried HDR a few of times without good success – lots of ghosting. Just came across Trey Ratcliff’s website before Christmas and looking forward to going thru his free tutorial as soon as all the holidays are over.

  81. My biggest struggle is the post-processing. With so many software options available, it is sometimes confusing selecting the right programs, plug-ins, settings, calibration, etc. This is where I am hoping the video really helps. Thanks.

  82. My biggest struggle is with the post processing. I use Photomatix, which is great, but sometimes it’s difficult to get my image just how I want it to look. Would love to win Trey’s tutorial!

  83. I struggle to make it all line up and not ghost.


  84. Hmmm…my biggest problem working with HDR? Oh..got it…trying to find an extra 3 or 4 hours a day to explore all that is HDR!!! HDR is fast becomming an obsession for me!

  85. I love Trey’s stuff! My biggest problem is getting the drama without it being too overblown.

  86. Halos and making it look too much like a painting, not a photo.

  87. My problem is to get time to find out what HDR exactly is and how does it work.

  88. Still trying to learn HDR and have yet to have any success. Trey’s workshop video would surely be a help.

  89. My biggest HDR struggle is night time images. Whether it be noise, or lights looking funky, it is just tough.

  90. Trying to work out if a particular image could carry off the ‘overdone’ look.

  91. To make the colors pop but not overdone

  92. My biggest struggle for HDR is that I only shoot HDR when ever i go out!

  93. My biggest problem is the British weather not giving me the best lighting conditions for taking good contrasting shots.

  94. I getting good at getting natural looking results…much of the time. When I don’t, it’s either halos or poor skies (posterized, or blown-out).

  95. My biggest strugle…making my photos look like Trey’s!

  96. Learning how and what would be a good HDR setting and what exposures would be best. I’m clogging up my MAC w/ several shots when I could learn to be a little more efficient w/ the right techniques and knowledge. Raw images by the thousands fills your hardrive up quick.



  97. My biggest struggle with HDR is that it is often used to cover up poor quality images.

  98. I haven’t totally embraced HDR, and I blame that on the time/ability to use it better. I think if I had more knowledge and more time, I would become a bigger fan.

  99. biggest struggle is deciding if a potential picture would benefit from HDR’ing.

  100. My biggest struggle is using the software there so many setting to use.

  101. My biggest struggle with HDR photography is finding the right software package that I like the best

  102. The biggest problem for me was picking the type of shots that would work well with HDR, and the getting them lined up.

  103. Like many others, I fnid that my pictures are either over the top or flat looking.

  104. Is to know whether the picture is done or looking awful. Cause when you’ve applying all these effects and sliding all those slides you’ve kinda become blind of the oroginal image. Therefore you’ll need an another opinion and aswell some critiscism.

    Via using the tutorials in Trey’s Stuck in Customs tutorial I’m pretty sure that problem will dissapear or at least decrease!

  105. My biggest struggle is giving the colors a good pop without overdoing the HDR-effect…

  106. Biggest issue with HDR? Processing the image twice, one to have a nice sky and the other to have a nice subject, because often, the settings for the subject give sad dark clouds

  107. My biggest struggle with HDR is reworking originals back in with Photoshop. I cannot seem to grasp that with just the written tutorial on Trey’s site. I have come up with some work-arounds that give seem to be working but still they are not as good. (Next step is better lenses!) Then if I still cannot get it then it is obviously JUST ME! haha!

  108. The biggest struggle is to find a right balance between too much and too little processing. In addition, manipulating all the parameters in Photomatix is not a trivial task.


  109. My biggest struggle is getting the picture framed just right and the correct balance of natural versus overdone.

  110. I have difficulty finding a good balance between all my shots. I really can never get that ideal HDR image.

  111. My biggest struggle with HDR is getting brackets that can fully expose shadows or darken down the extreme bright areas. My camera only has an EV range of +/- 2 EV.

  112. My biggest struggle with HDR is fighting the misconception that it is not “real” photography. I faced this same prejudice when I started using digital cameras back in 1998.

  113. My biggest struggle is taking the time to sit down and process the HDR photos! I have learnt so much from Trey’s photography workflow book to get my photos onto the computer and organised, and now need to take the next step in efficiently process HDR’s!

  114. The bold, vibrant colors that i see in-camera often come out as over-saturated after post. Sometimes and sometimes not, balancing the hue works. Worse is when the composition is full of too many different colors. What seems a good opportunity just comes out looking like a jar of jelly beans!

  115. My biggest problem with HDR is being too busy at work to get time to go out and shoot brackets :)

  116. My biggest struggle while learning HDR is determining which scenes are best enhanced by the method. Since I’m just learning, I want to take pictures of *everything* in HDR and it isn’t always the right choice. But I’m learning! Oh and learning the ins and outs of LightRoom and Photomatix.

  117. Thanks for sharing Scott! My biggest HDR challenge is removing ghosting of people in my brackets.. I’m on a slow PC and opening multiple images to do masking in PS is a lot of waiting work.. :)

  118. My biggest HDR challenge is making the images look like they’re not over-the-top HDR images.

  119. My biggest challenge is putting the photo together in the software – it never looks a like a “real” HDR shot. Not sure what i am doing wrong.

  120. My biggest struggle is knowing at which point to *stop*. I like HDR, but it sometimes is just too far over the top for my tastes!

  121. My biggest struggle with HDR is getting all the exposure brackets right when viewing the histogram.

  122. Hands down, my biggest struggle with HDR photography is to make sure that I don’t overcook the image. There are times when an overprocessed image looks good, and times when it needs to remain subtle. Finding that balance can make or break an photograph.

  123. Trying to figure out single image HDR

  124. My biggest struggle is in post-processing and knowing how to “tweak” the image.

  125. my biggest struggle as with many things I enjoy is TIME! I always seem to need more :-)

  126. Being brand new to HDR, and i’d say still novice at photography in general, my biggest challenge seems to be in knowing when enough is enough. I swear, when I’m toning and blending my pics look amazing. When i come back to them the next day it’s holy S#!t! what was I thinking. Working on getting to know where the line is between surreal “wow” and simply over doing it.

  127. Struggle is getting out at night to play with night hdr. I also have trouble with these freezing temps.

  128. The biggest struggle I have other than finding time to shoot is getting the correct exposures. Be it through bracketing or manually.

  129. My biggest struggle is to find the time to post-process – takes time to really finish a good hdr photo – Lightroom – Photomatix – Topaz – Photoshop – Onone … publishing … promoting … ;-)

  130. My biggest struggle is when going back and forth between HDR images and single shot images…I find it frustrating the lack of detail in the shadow/highlight areas, then I realize it is not an HDR image I am looking at…doh!

  131. My Biggest struggle is being a perfectionist and wanting to keep tweaking an image once I’ve worked on it.

  132. My biggest struggle is keep the noise to a minimum without losing detail.

  133. My biggest struggle with HDR is finding the right subject. I have images in my mind but trying to find them or have the resources to create them is hard.

  134. Make photos look realistic!

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