Learn How to Shoot and Edit This Eye-Catching HDR Portrait

You don't always need to have a complicated lighting setup to shoot high-quality images, and in fact, with a bit of ingenuity and editing prowess, you can make some very creative photos. Check out this awesome video to see how this natural light HDR portrait was shot. 

Coming to you from Lindsay Adler Photography, this excellent video shows how she shot and edited a natural light HDR portrait. To shoot the portrait, all she did was use a white door as a large bounce to create soft and flat light. Then, she had an assistant hold a muslin background behind the model, providing a nice, gritty texture that contributes to the style of the image. When it came to the editing, she opted for increasing the clarity and texture for more grit, while also bringing up the shadows and the highlights. Adler also gave it a very stylized color grade as a finishing touch. Of course, you don't have to take it in that direction if you don't want to, but it's still a great exercise in using a simple natural light setup to create a professional portrait. Check out the video above to see the full rundown. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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How to completely ruin a photo with post processing 101.

Before you judge other take a look at your own photo.

Kind of a rude comment. First of all everyone has a different artistic style, and there is no "right or wrong" when it comes to photography. If you're one of those photographers that thinks that you only shoot things the right way and there is only one style than you're just egotistical.

Fair reply. I’m not free of faults and many in here think the same judging by the amount of likes and comments of the same thought.

Her raw image was solid and it just went downhill from there IMO. This is a subjective art and we are all entitled to our opinions. Honesty is always the best policy and sometimes being honest about someone’s final image, especially when they are choosing to instruct the community on a “how to” video, is harsh but necessary.

If you think this comment is harsh, watch some of the FStoppers community critics. They’re honest as well and I bet people take note to get better.

*heavy sigh*

Are you sighing because your work is complete crap in comparison? Or just tired?

Both. The quality of the presentation does not come close to reflecting the quality of the outcome.

A lot of times, Popular <> Good.

It's subjective.

it is good actually. hdr is awesome if you do it right

I appreciate her enthusiastic energy and professionalism to share information, I don’t quite like the vibe of the final
Image but that’s not to say she didn’t do a great job putting together this video.

No, that's not HDR.
Everyone wants to be an educator huh.

To be fair, she does clarify in the video that she called it that because it has an "HDR" look to it. (in that there is lots of detail in the shadows and the highlights). She doesn't claim that it is actual HDR. (aka, stacking multiple images to expand the dynamic range beyond what the sensor is capable of)

I guess you don't know who she is. Considering Lindsay isn't one of these fly by night educators that pops up every ten minutes. Lindsay has been an educator for the past decade or more, has about 5 books published and 20+ videos on Creativelive. Do your research first before making a stupid comment.

Good for her. Great.
Research done, Still not HDR.
Thanks for your stupid reaction too.

If it is done by Unmesh Dinda (PiXimperfect) , it could be much better. He is like a wizard of photoshop :)

He’s amazing, I just wish I could fix his unibrow lol.
Unmesh would actually do HDR and not whatever the hell this chick did. It looks like she took a photo and then threw dirt all over it.

Unmesh is undoubtedly a wizard at Photoshop. But, he did a pretty awful job at this pretty recent video:


He may know Photoshop like the back of his hand, but, with great power comes great responsibility. :)

So much salty comment here :(

Especially if they have no insight or respect for the work of others.. and that my friend is the truth!

Yes but give critique to let the person evolve or giving bullshit to neg the person are 2 separate things. I can almost only read bullshit here. But as you say it an only personal opinion. :)

Right? So many haters in the photography community. The majority of which couldn't photoshop themselves out of a paper bag.

Just because the highlight/shadow recovery tools in C1 are labels “High Dynamic Range”, doesn’t mean it actually is. Also, didn’t “HDR photography” die off 10 or 15 years ago?

This is just an immensely over processed image that already had the entire tonal range captured without touching those sliders.

Not really. There are plenty of people doing HDR portrait styles now. Also tell Trey Ratcliff that HDR is dead or Joel's Grimes who implements a similar technique with post processing, i'm sure they'll have something to say to you about it.

It's not TRUE HDR in which you combine and bracket different photos, it's an "hdr style" as it states.

Plus you're also wrong, the extra processing enhanced the details IN the tonal range. Otherwise it would have been a relatively flat photo, but that's also NOT the point. If you watched or listened to the video instead of probably just leaving stupid comments, you would have understood that it was an experiment, and I think photographers are artists and therefore allowed to experiment and determine what they feel is their own interpretation. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but as stated above, there are many more people willing to hate than appreciate.

The image straight out of the camera already looked great. Not a fan of using the clarity slider unless you are photographing something that already has a gritty vibe and this photo hardly constitutes that.

If I were to edit it, I would just boost the highlights and color correct the red channel.
This is an example of when it's better to just keep things simple.

Its better to keep things simple is a very subjective opinion. Then you'd have a simple, boring photo like everyone else. It's not about what is "technically" right mate.

Looks like Photoshop threw up on this image

The gritty style makes the model look like she has dirty skin.