HDR is normally described as a post processing technique.

I usually can't find time to do post-processing - thus I have turned out to favor SOOC-pictures ;-)

My question is: Is it possible to create HDR-photos by multiple-exposure?


I'm not asking for a built-in post-processing tool in the camera.

I want to know if multiple-exposure can be used as a capture-technique when the scene has a large difference in exposure. I.e. both overexposed and underexposed parts. (Eg. in a landscape where the sky is very bright and the ground is very dark).

Using "HDR" as a term is probably not correct. The issue I'm trying to solve is simply to fetch the details from all parts of the scene. I was wondering if this could be done by multi exposure... (After som thinking, I guess not...)

As far as I can tell - a GND filter is the only way to go. I.e. to reduce the bright parts of the picture more than the dark parts...

enter image description here
Picture from the article "GND Filters vs. Exposure Blending"

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of Which cameras have built-in HDR? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 19:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ah. Thanks. Perhaps this one too: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/38689/… :-/ ? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 19:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Well, Nikon's active d-lighting is probably the closest you can get. But, basically, if your camera doesn't have the in-camera processing to do a certain thing... it doesn't have the in-camera ability to do that thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 19:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Unless the camera has a feature to map the different exposures properly — that's what the in-camera HDR feature in the other cameras is. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 19:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JørnE.Angeltveit No, you can't. The second exposure adds more light on top of the first exposure, so if either of the exposures blow out the highlights, the multiexposure will be even more blown out since it gets the light from the other exposure on top. A graduated ND is not a general replacement, but it works if your picture has one bright and one dark part and a more-or-less straight line separating them. Or you could use gelatin/plastic ND filters and cut them to the shape you need. IMO multiple shots and post processing is easier. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 23:09

2 Answers 2


The short answer is: you can, if your camera has a feature to support it (see Which cameras have built-in HDR?) but really can't if it doesn't.

"HDR", which stands for High Dynamic Range, is a little bit of a misnomer, because the end result is a photo with regular dynamic range displayable on a typical monitor or print, but which shows detail from across a wider range from dark to light than a straightforward mapping to that media normally would. Michael Nielsen's answer to another question on HDR covers this nicely.

The important part is that in order to produce this mapped image, the processing software (either in-camera or out) needs to know what to do. Cameras with a built-in feature to do HDR have that knowledge; that's exactly what the feature is. * Other cameras just don't. (But, the software to do it after the fact is easy, inexpensive or free, and gives you a lot more control.)

(Plus, usually also some sort of rudimentary auto-alignment to compensate for slight shifts. This will be much better on a computer.)


With the D90 you can use the multiple exposure feature, on a tripod, bracket the exposures, with Auto Gain turned on. As you say in your comment, if one exposure is great for the brighter part of your image, the next one will probably blow it out. You'll end up with an average exposure.

If you don't like post-processing, there are quick ways to do a blend of two images in post without HDR software and spending a lot of time. For one, you can stack two images in layers and use the layer "blend-if" sliders to let certain tones in one layer blend in on top of the other layer, rather than using masks or HDR processing. There's a lot more processing power and memory on a computer than on your D90 to do this, so you're bound to get better results than in-camera.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.