HDR in Lightroom and Photoshop

Postproduction for photographs, in our digital age, seems to be a never ending topic particularly since cameras and choices of software are always improving with ever better capabilities. When taking digital negatives and processing them for a completed product, techniques like high dynamic range processing can allow for more creative control of an image, which is precisely what this tutorial covers.

Dynamic range can be a touchy topic; when to incorporate techniques to obtain more range, when it becomes too much, when is it even needed, and so on. Of course, there are those who believe that an image should come straight out of the camera as perfect, with no need for any retouching. But we all know that this was never the case. Even back with film photography, many varied techniques both chemical and with filters on lenses and enlargers were used to increase the dynamic range of a film negative.

HDR is simply a digital option for photographers to further the control which they have over their own digital negatives. The technique typically involves at least two, but can incorporate any number of images, each with the exact same composition and varying only in exposure value. These images are then combined to take the lighter areas from the lighter image(s), and the darker areas in the other(s) in order to increase the range of visibility in both the highlight and shadow areas. There are plenty of choices for software to choose from which will allow you to do just that. Even from Adobe, there are multiple ways to accomplish this. However, not every avenue will yield the same results. This video is about identifying the differences between combining images in Lightroom versus Photoshop for a high dynamic range image.

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2 Comments

Roger Spring's picture

I am impressed. Everywhere you can find News about HDR. I am using it since probably 10 years now. The next big surprise would be a perfect Tool for this called Photomatix...

And there it begins... again!

michael andrew's picture

If you were to take that 16 bit lightroom HDR into photoshop and make more local adjustments you can quite easily produce similar results.

I do a ton of compositing and dont really love lightrooms final touch of an HDR file but it does lift noise off the file and allow you to finesse an image in photoshop more than a single shot.

With a Color Balance Adjustment layer and a simple curves adjustment layer or 2 you can have a fast work around to complete manual blending or luminosity masking.