June 09, 2014

The merits of flash as opposed to HDR in event photography

Event photography is one of the most exciting branches in the field of professional photography. As a photographer, each event you have the good fortune of photographing will be different, as will be the kind of ambient light you face at each event. You will find an equal mix of indoor as well as outdoor events; therefore, it becomes necessary to equip yourself with all you need to get some beautiful shots at the event.

HDR and flash are among the two most used features when it comes to shooting photographs in a dimly lit environment. Let us take a moment to understand the meaning of each of these terms and what they can do for your photographs.


Flash Photography

Flash is just a very powerful light applied to illuminate a dimly lit picture. Complete with a startling color temperature of about 5500 Kelvins; flash has the ability to help you freeze the frame when you capture objects in motion. The bright light that emanates from a flash usually lasts for about 1/1000th of a second. Although flash originated from the single use of halogen flashbulbs, it has now progressed to an electronic version. Most of the digital cameras nowadays, come with a built-in flash, while SLR’s have a popup flash that is not as effective as your regular flash.

Pro photographers have been known to prefer the use of studio lights that you either plug in or use with a battery pack.

High Dynamic Range or HDR

HDRThis specific shutterbug feature represents the distinction between the faintest and most prominent of lights in a particular room. The camera has a dynamic range that captures the picture. Once the objects in the frame go past the camera’s range, highlights mellow down to whites; while the darker areas fall to the shadows. HDR basically helps you achieve a picture with a wide dynamic range or lighting that would be impossible without it.

A photographer has to take several photos at varying levels of exposure and then go on to process them together to get the desired effect.

The distinction

The HDR feature requires the photographer to click a wide range of bracketed shots; which is basically the same photograph with different shutter speeds. The photographer then has to merge the different photos with post-processing to get one well illuminated photo. There are several types of photo-merging software’s like the Photomatix available to HDR enthusiasts today.

A flash succeeds in illuminating the picture frame so that you get a bright picture of the subject to start with. You can then go on to tinker at the photograph during post-processing and make any more changes. Some cameras today, come with an electronic flash that has a tube full of xenon gas. It works by shooting a high voltage electric current creating an electrical arc; which essentially emits a brief flash of light for you to take your picture in.

If you’re shooting an indoor event, your best option is probably the flash as you can truly capture some compelling images with such a dominant source of brightness.

The nature of the HDR feature prevents its use for objects that move; especially with the exposure bracketing you will probably be better off with a flash. HDR is more of a suitable option for those dabbling in real estate photography, as they can take the time to use HDR to get some fantastic shots of interiors.

Several digital cameras including the new range of DSLR’s have a very powerful flash option as well as great HDR setting. Do remember to experiment and let your creative genius run free in the field of special events photography, leading you to a bright future!

About the Guest Author:

Aaron Ho is a professional photographer based in Sydney. He provides top notch event photography Sydney to people so they can cherish their every special event!