Sometimes it’s like a brick in the snow

Brick in the snow

Brick in the snow

When you’re out photographing your surroundings, and you don’t have a plan (which is always fun) you have to ‘wing it’ at times.  This winter I spent a day outside wondering around and captured this random brick in the snow.  I wasn’t planning on creating a HDR photograph during this small photowalk.  I just wanted to take pictures.

When you come upon a scene that is so bright and so colorful that you want to create a HDR, but you have no cables, there is a simple solution.  In fact, I sometimes do this on purpose just to get myself into the extremely creative mindset.

Steps to a completely manual HDR

  1. Put your camera on manual
  2. Put your camera on self-timer (2 seconds is enough)
  3. Frame, focus and get your main exposure
  4. Leave your aperture wherever it is
  5. Shoot, then adjust your shutter speed by 1 or 2 stops longer depending on what you want
  6. Adjust your shutter speed by 1 or 2 stops shorter depending on what you want
  7. Check your histogram after each shot to make sure you got what you need/want

The key is that self timer.  The 2 second timer delay will reduce any shake that you caused when touching the camera before the shutter fires.

Here are the thumbnails of all of the brackets I shot for the brick in the snow photograph.  As you can see I didn’t need many brackets over-exposing but I did need more under.  I made sure that my histogram covered the entire range before calling the shot a success.

brick-in-snow-thumbsThanks for reading and happy shooting,



  1. James Brandon February 22, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Hehe, you poor poor Nikonians :-). With my Canon I just set it to a 5 exposure AEB, set a two second timer, hold the camera still, and listen as 5 exposures fire off in perfect harmony.

    Great shot btw dude! Digging the clouds and snow, and my eye really wants to see the detail at the top of that mound!

    • Scott February 22, 2011 at 9:48 am #

      Nikon’s can put on auto-bracketing as well but the key is to reduce the shake as much as possible which is why I choose to use the self-timer. :-)

      Thanks for the comment James!

  2. Joe February 22, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    That’s a great effort. I was going to mention the AEB on my 60D but James stole my thunder. Did you use a polarized filter?

    • Scott February 22, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      I only had a UV filter on the lens. Keep in mind that even with AEB, if you don’t let the camera stop moving you risk shake in between brackets.

  3. James Brandon February 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Wait. On my Canon though, I set it to 5 bracket AEB, then set a timer for two second. Once the timer goes off, all 5 brackets fire off in a row. That way all I have to do is hold the camera still.

    • Scott February 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Ah, yes – Canon’s have a 1-up on Nikons when it comes to that.

  4. James Brandon February 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Are you sure Nikons can’t do it? I know Trey has some special trick he does to make his fire off in a row on a two second timer, but maybe that is just the D3 bodies?

  5. bycostello February 23, 2011 at 4:32 am #

    NIce, and nice technique.. something to play with next time i am out shooting…

    • Scott February 23, 2011 at 6:07 am #

      Glad you liked it

  6. Chris Jones February 23, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    Nice advice – I must say that the promote control really helps when it comes to stuff like this.

    • Scott February 23, 2011 at 6:06 am #

      The promote control is a very useful tool but my point is that you don’t need it. You can do without it.

  7. Scott Webb March 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I do a lot of handheld HDR because alignment ability in the software of Photomatix is pretty outstanding. I even had my D300 on 14-bit mode so the Continuous High bracketing was uber slow. I recently changed it back to 12-bit and the camera fires like a machine gun.

    It’s pretty impressive and I still love the results.

    • Scott March 12, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      I try not to shoot any brackets for HDR handheld. Much prefer to just shoot the shot with one exposure if I am forced to not have a tripod. Or I will find a stabilizing surface from my surroundings. Just my preference.

New Jersey Photographer

Thank you for reading the Scott Wyden Imagery blog. I am a Manalapan, New Jersey Photographer sharing my passion for photography any way I can. I am also the Community & Blog Wrangler at Photocrati, teaching other photographers on how to increase business with their website.

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