Experience Reports


I love HDR photography. In case you don't know what that is you can head over to Trey Ratcliff's website for an explanation. Here's my quick version. In HDR photography, the photographers take at least two (three or more is better) exposure bracketed and through the magic of software, algorithms combine them into a single image. As you can tell from Trey's photos, the results can produce a striking increase in dynamic range.

I capture most of my images for HDR work on my Nikon. However, setting up a tripod, DSLR and wide-angle lens while stopped at the side of a narrow country road with cars whizzing by is a less than ideal experience. Sometimes my iPhone is the most convenient camera I have with me. I've experimented with various HDR apps for the iPhone over the last few years, but I always found them lacking in some aspect. I've installed and deleted about half a dozen HDR apps from my iPhone. vividHDR is the first HDR app that has a chance of remaining on my iPhone long-term.

vividHDR is a simple app. This simplicity is one of the reasons I like it. Most HDR app overwhelms me with a million pre and post-processing option. Contrast that with vividHR, which launches right into a camera-ready mode.

Tapping the icon on the bottom left of the screen brings up several HDR presets. When I started writing this review, the app only had three, but a recent update raised that number to five. It doesn't matter which one you chose upfront since you can switch between presets after the HDR is created.


Tapping the lightbulb in the lower right corner overlays icons indicating how to use the app.


Swiping to the right reveals a vertical menu. From here you can toggle on/off geotag, overlay grid, auto-preview, select and setup sharing options, and how you want to save the original and HDR images.


Swiping to the right will let you swipe through each image in the photo gallery. You'll get another set of menus on the bottom of the screen. You can compare the original photo to its HDR version or share the HDR image, make editing changes or delete the photo. I've never used the image editor. I usually stick with the results from the presets. If I do want to make an edit I prefer using another app like Photogene4.

Tapping the i in the upper left-hand corner will bring up some meta-information about your HDR image.

I like the fact that vividHDR has its own internal gallery/lightbox and saves images exported to the Photos app to its album. The iOS Photos app can get so cluttered and sometimes I have difficulty finding the photo I want. Whether I am snapping a picture to post to [Pressgram ][http://pressgr.am\]or upload to a blog posing using Poster, being able to navigate to an album with just the images I need makes things simpler.

Although the app is simple to use, taking a good quality HDR image requires some patience. The app has to take three photos and merge them. Neither the camera nor the subject must move or change while the images are being captured. Although the app can be used handheld, I recommend bracing yourself against something -- a tree, a pole -- to reduce movement. For the photo below I leaned against my car to get the shot. Or maybe you can keep a mini tripod and iPhone mount such as the Glif in your glove box.

Sunrise, Princeton, Battlefield Park, Winter, Snow

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  • Khürt Williams
    5th December 2017 at 12:55 PM

    Before I left home this morning I packed my camera bag with my Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5-5.6. We had a lot of snow yesterday but the ploughs came late to my neighbourhood. Driving along slick snow packed roads wasn’t a good idea so I stayed home. But this morning, with the roads cleared, I wanted to capture a winter scene.
    I took a different route this morning. Usually, I take Blue Spring Road west to 206 South. That’s normally the fastest route. But [my navigation system] suggested I go east on Blue Spring toward River Road through Kingston. Perhaps this was faster since the schools had a delayed opening and the roads had no school buses at this time.
    I pulled onto Blue Spring Road and I was hit by the beauty of that scene. The golden light of the early morning sun was reflecting off the snow on this tree-lined road and it was just wonderful. I stopped to snap a photo with my iPhone but before I could focus and compose my shot I had three cars waiting for me to move. So I moved on. But I was disappointed. The scene on Blue Spring Road was better than what came later. I could have just let those cars wait.
    My commute this morning took along the Plainsboro side of Carnegie Lake along Mapleton Road. There were no cars behind me so I was able to stop and take this shot from the car using vividHR on my iPhone. Not my Nikon D5100. My iPhone.

    By the time I composed my shot I saw a few cars coming up the road behind me. The next photograph was taken on the corner of Mapleton Road just before it connects to Route 1 South. I had to pull over onto a side road near an apartment building.
    Both photos were post-processed in Photogene. I have a scratch on my iPhone 5 lens that shows up as a purple dot on all my images. I used the healing tool in Photogene4 to remove it.

  • I regretted leaving the DSLR at home
    17th December 2014 at 9:20 AM

    […] pulled into the parking area near the small boat house. I shot this one on my iPhone 6 using vividHDR. The one below was shot using the native iPhone 6 camera app. I also did some minor editing in […]

  • Early morning fog over Princeton Battlefield Park
    19th November 2014 at 10:25 PM

    […] driving to work this week, I pulled over to capture this image using the vividHDR app on my iPhone 6. I used a gradient filter in Adobe Lightroom to saturate the colors in the sky […]

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