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HDR Drone Photography: Mastering the Art

Do you want to take your drone photography to the next level? Look no further than high dynamic range (HDR) drone photography. With HDR, you can capture stunning shots that showcase the full range of...

Do you want to take your drone photography to the next level? Look no further than high dynamic range (HDR) drone photography. With HDR, you can capture stunning shots that showcase the full range of brightness in any scene, from vibrant skies to detailed foregrounds. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about HDR drone photography, including how to set it up, the best settings for different situations, and the post-processing software you can use to enhance your images.

What is HDR photography?

Before we dive into drone photography, let's understand what HDR photography is. High dynamic range photography allows you to capture images that bring out the deepest shadows and highlights in a scene without overexposing or underexposing any area. It's particularly useful for real estate and landscape photography, adding a fantastic feeling to your shots.

The process involves merging multiple images of the same scene, each taken at different exposures, to create a final photograph that is properly exposed in every area. By combining these images, you can achieve a level of detail and tonal range that would be difficult to capture with a single exposure.

How to use AEB?

AEB, or automatic exposure bracketing, is a feature available on many drones that automates the process of taking multiple exposures of a scene. This saves you time and ensures that you capture the full range of brightness in your images. With a single press of the shutter button, your drone will capture multiple exposures, allowing you to choose the best one during post-processing.

To enable AEB on your DJI drone, simply connect to the drone and open the DJI Go 4 app. Switch to photo mode and click on the settings button. From there, you can access the camera settings and enable AEB mode. This feature is crucial for drone photography, as even slight changes in drone position can result in blurry images when combined.

Best uses of HDR drone photography

HDR drone photography has numerous applications and can significantly enhance your shots. Here are some of the best uses for this technique:

Real estate

HDR photography is perfect for capturing eye-catching real estate photos. It allows you to showcase the surroundings and details of a house in a single shot, even in challenging lighting conditions. By combining multiple exposures, you can ensure that every detail is revealed, leaving nothing to the imagination for potential buyers.


Landscape drone photography is always awe-inspiring, but it can be challenging when the sun is too bright or the foreground details are difficult to capture. HDR photography helps resolve this issue by balancing the exposure between the sky and the foreground. The result is a perfectly exposed image that showcases the beauty of the landscape.

Golden hour shots

Golden hour, the time just after sunrise or before sunset, offers a magical lighting condition for photography. With HDR, you can enhance the warmth and softness of these shots, capturing the golden light that bathes the scene. Whether you're photographing natural landscapes or urban cityscapes, HDR will allow you to perfectly expose every part of the scene.

High contrast environments

In high contrast environments, where shadows and bright areas coexist, HDR photography is essential. It helps reveal details in the shadows and prevents the sky from being washed out. If you find it challenging to see the details or capture the scene's full range of brightness, turning on HDR mode or AEB settings will make a significant difference.

Best practices for HDR on a drone

To achieve the best HDR shots with your drone, it's essential to follow some best practices. Here are a few tips:

  • Shoot in RAW: Shooting in RAW format ensures that you capture the most information and have more flexibility during post-processing.
  • Shoot into the sun: If you're shooting into the sun, capturing a shot at -3 exposure settings will help capture the details without overexposing.
  • Use tripod mode: If your drone has a tripod mode, use it to stabilize your shots and minimize blurriness caused by wind or drone movement.
  • Turn off front-facing lights: Front-facing LEDs on drones can introduce unwanted light into your shots. Turn them off to avoid any interference.
  • Use the lowest ISO possible: Aim for the lowest ISO settings to minimize noise and capture the best image quality.

Post-processing software for HDR drone images

Once you've captured your HDR shots, it's time to bring them to their full potential with post-processing. Here are some popular software options:

  • Photomatix: This software allows you to merge and process your HDR images, providing a range of presets and advanced editing tools. It's available for purchase with different pricing options depending on your needs.
  • Aurora HDR: Powered by artificial intelligence, Aurora HDR offers advanced merging capabilities and color enhancement features. It can be used as a plug-in for popular photo editing software or as a standalone application.
  • Luminance HDR: If you're looking for a free option, Luminance HDR is an open-source project that provides powerful tools for creating HDR images. It supports a range of high dynamic range formats and is available for different operating systems.

In conclusion

With HDR drone photography, you can take your aerial shots to new heights. By capturing multiple exposures and merging them with the right post-processing software, you'll achieve stunning and perfectly exposed images. Whether you're capturing real estate, landscapes, or high contrast environments, HDR photography will enhance the details and create captivating visuals. So grab your drone, experiment with HDR mode, and unleash your creativity in the sky!