Are the benefits of HDR on your Iphone worth the trouble?

Are the benefits of HDR on your Iphone worth the trouble?

HDR-WITH-WORDS2-300x265 With the rollout of Apple’s latest OS came a plethora of ways to edit photos on your phone. While most of the features are straightforward, there is one in particular that is important to understand: HDR. Tap the words at the top center of the camera app when you are taking a picture to toggle it on or off. While enabled it will read “HDR On,” and likewise when it is disabled, it will display “HDR Off.”

HDR stands for “high dynamic range” and is achieved by your phone taking several pictures and merging them together in order to achieve a snapshot that uses the best parts of the scene. While this may seem like a feature that you would always want to have enabled, the opposite holds true.

HDR certainly has its uses, but it isn’t always necessarily the right tool for the job. Since the end result is a composite image, there are going to situations that HDR isn’t suited for. Trying to capture a moving object is going to result in a blurry mess. HDR may also wash out colors that are very vibrant and rich, resulting in a more boring picture. There are some pictures that look better with high level of contrast between the light and dark parts, HDR will cause those pictures to seem washed out.

The best times to use HDR are in low light and backlit situations. One of HDR’s strengths is brightening without washing out the rest of the picture. Landscapes are generally good candidates for HDR because it can be very difficult to capture the light in the sky without making the rest of your picture too dark. Harsh lighting can be evened out as well, removing unwanted glare and dark shadows

By default enabling HDR will save a normal copy as well as the HDR version to your phone. While this gives you the option of which to use, if you opt for keeping the normal and modified versions, you’ll be saving more data to your phone and, more importantly, having twice as many images to manage. The two pictures are saved back to back on your camera roll and unless you can tell which picture is which from a distance you’ll have to look at each picture individually (the HDR enabled picture will have a watermarked “HDR” when you are viewing it). This feature can be changed in Settings > Photos and Camera > Keep Normal Photo. Toggling this will save only the HDR image to your device, eliminating the duplicate normal picture.

Having duplicates of each picture you take is a very slippery slope. The time spent micro-managing pictures ranges from bothersome in small numbers to overwhelming in large quantities. Your phone will fill up much more quickly with your hard drives soon to follow. If you don’t choose which picture you like on the spot, eventually you’ll have to make that decision, and those of us that take a lot of pictures may soon find ourselves buried in duplicate files.
Our final concern is the ease of enabling HDR. It’s very possible to accidentally tap and enable it while trying to get a good picture. If that happens and is left unnoticed, you may be in for quite a surprise the next time you go to look through your pictures. Some experimentation is in order to try it out and get a feel for how it can help you, just don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done! And as always, be sure to back up your files on a frequent basis to a separate drive in case your phone is lost, stolen or simply stops working.

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