How to make an HDR Photograph with a Nikon D800

This Tutorial shows the complete steps to take to make a HDR photograph using the Nikon D800. To see my Gallery please visit this link: Luke Zeme Photography Gallery

This guide is for the Nikon D800 but you can use it no matter what camera you have- Nikon, Canon, Sony, Oylmpus … ūüôā

Quick step guide:

Shooting –¬†HDR Bracket setup for the Nikon D800

Tonemapping –¬†Using¬†Photomatix tutorial with 15% discount code¬†¬†& Ghost Removal using Photomatix¬†

Post Processing – Stylising your image


Full Guide and instructions:


The first step in creating a HDR image is obviously shooting the images on your camera. The HDR technique works best in situations with scenes that have a lot of dynamic range. So situations like sunrises, sunsets and night cityscapes are perfect for HDR. The HDR process does not work as well for shots taken in the middle of the day so try to steer clear of these times, unless indoors.

ALL HDR images are made shooting a bracket of images and these MUST all be shot using the same APERTURE. If you know how the aperture of a camera works then you know that changing the aperture in turn adjusts the depth of field within an image. So it is imperative that we use the same aperture in each of the images so that they will all have similar depth of fields and therefore will be sharp in the same places within the image. You can ensure that all your images all have the same aperture by shooting the images manually OR you can follow my tutorial below that will teach you how to setup up your Nikon D800 to shoot the bracket automatically using the algorithms that Nikon has written into your camera.

If you need help on how to setup the Nikon D800 to shoot brackets of images in Aperture Priority mode I have written that tutorial for you here. HDR Bracket setup for the Nikon D800.


Tonemapping is the process of taking the images from your bracket and combining them in HDR software. I highly recommend Photomatix Pro from HDR soft as this is the software I use in 90% of my HDR images.

Photomatix PRO РIs a MAC and PC HDR software for creating stunning HDR images. They have a free trial, but if you end up buying a copy of Photomatix you can get a 15% Discount with the coupon code LukeZemePhotography

If you choose to purchase a copy of Photomatix then I suggest you select Photomatix PRO as it comes with all the bells and whistles and is compatible with both your PC and MAC. The reason I like Photomatix so much is it’s ability to remove ghosts manually and this is a very powerful feature that other matching software companies don’t have yet. I wrote a tutorial on removing ghosts using Photomatix here. Products from NIK or Photoshop can do it automatically but often in scenes where you have a lot of movement the software becomes confused and you end up with a jigsaw puzzle of an image. I also like the amount of user control that is available in the creation of the tonemapped image in Photomatix and it’s done using a simple slider system, that is easy to pick up for new users.

Post Processing:

Technically all software editing of a Photograph is known as Post-Processing but for the sake of not confusing you,  the PP in this scenario will be the editing after you tonemap your image. I created a Full HDR workflow tutorial here- Complete HDR tutorial which shows how you can take your tonemapped image and use Filter software to adjust almost any aspect of it that you can image.

Some of the more Popular Filter programs to stylise your images are:

  • On1 Perfect Effects¬†–¬†An amazing Filter program to stylise the image.¬†a standalone Filter program which can also be launched from Lightroom, Photoshop or Aperture
  • Topaz Clarity and¬†Adjust 5¬†– is a great Filter program with a variety of choices,¬†15% off all Topaz software use discount code¬†LukeZemePhotography

and I can highly recommend the Photo Suite of Software

  • On1 Photo¬†the complete collection of photo editing software from OnOne

& the bundle from Topaz

For a Full list of HDR software I have compiled a list here- Comprehensive List of HDR Software

Examples of HDR images created with the Nikon D800, by Luke Zeme

Sunrise Gap Bluff


Morning Reflections


The Boat Shed




Please leave any comments or questions below.

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i would like to know if you have used focus stacking with the d800 and the promote system

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