How do I use HDR on my Smartphone?

Smartphone Photography with HDR

Read more

January 18, 2018
What is HDR in cell phone photography and why should I use it? It stands for High Dynamic Range. It works to create a balance between dark shadows and bright highlights creating better images. Mobile cameras have a setting for HDR. In smartphone photography when you turn on the high dynamic Ranger mode your camera is actually taking three pictures, rather than just one. Then the images are fused together to create one image that shows the greatest lights and the darks; they are combined to create one image that has the greatest High Dynamic Range. This can be a great way to improve your photography.

When Should I use HDR?


HDR for Smartphones- Snow covered mountains

When taking pictures of scenery HDR can add more detail to the image. For example you are skiing and you take a break to take a picture. There is a beautiful view of the snow covered mountains and the sky. You would like to show the illumination of the snow and the vibrant contrast of the sky with the clouds. By choosing to use HDR you are able to capture the dynamic features in the snow and the colors of the clouds making it a better image.

Pictures in Direct Sunlight

Lighting is very important and when taking pictures in direct sunlight harsh shadows are often created. This creates unflattering images.  Your subject can look even better because it balances all the lights and dark’s which will decrease the shadows. Shooting in high dynamic range makes motion more visible and your images can easily become blurry. (Note: when taking pictures with people, steady phone with a tripod or arms.)

Backlit Scenes or Low Light Images

If your image is too dark and there is too much light behind the object, it can brighten up the foreground without washing out the back as well. This is a great way to improve your image, if the object is not well lit.

Smartphone Photography without HDRSmartphone Photography with HDR

Left image without, Right image with high dynamic range

When it is best not to use HDR?


It is best not to use HDR if your subjects are moving or are going to move. If you think your subject is going to move it is best not to take an HDR photo. Since three images are taken in a row if the subject moves the picture won’t turn out very good. Shooting in HDR makes motion more visible and your images can easily become blurry.

High Contrast Already Exists

If you are taking a picture where you want to capture the contrast between lights and darks in the image it is best to turn off HDR. If you are taking a picture of a shadow of a silhouette and want to show the contrast HDR will wash out the shadows creating a dull image.

When taking pictures of vivid colors

If you see a great image with vibrant colors it is best not to use HDR because it will wash out the color.

Using HDR on a Smartphone

On most smartphones you have the option to turn HDR on or off.  You can tap on the option and it will either turn to auto, off, or on. The best way to use it is to turn it on when it will improve your image or turn it to Auto. If you leave it on all the time it will impact the quality of your images and is not recommended.

How to use  on a Samsung


iPhone Example

HDR for an iPhone

If you have an iPhone you can choose to keep the normal photo and the other image. You can do this by going to settings and clicking on photos & Camera. Click on High Dynamic Range and then “Keep Normal Photo” where you can toggle on to save both images.

Using this technique correctly will improve your smartphone photography and will help you take better pictures with your phone. Learn more tips and tricks and try new products for greater images.

Related Articles






Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Our purpose is to inspire you to take great shots in the moment on the go. We sell mobile photography courses and products that help you better capture your life so that you can share every moment.

©2017 Picxtrix, LLC. All rights reserved.




Free Mobile Photography Book

Download the FREE Ebook

A Beginners Guide to Photo Editing With Snapseed



You have Successfully Subscribed!