Basic Photography Article - #10 HDR Photography part 3 - MickeyRountree

Basic Photography Article - #10 HDR Photography part 3 HDR with Adobe Lightroom

In this article I'll explain how to create an HDR image in Adobe Lightroom. This is probably my preferred method when I want a more natural looking image. And we can do it all without leaving Lightroom, though I usually do some extra work in Photoshop.

The first step is to select our images, right click and choose Photomerge, and then HDR as below. I'm using the same six images we used in HDR Part 2.

LR Selection

After clicking on HDR, we get the opening screen below with a couple of choices to make. Auto align is necessary if you handheld your shots, and it doesn't hurt to leave it selected if you shot on a tripod. I always leave it checked. Auto tone will attempt to adjust the image once it's assembled. I Always leave it unchecked. It's important not to check this if you are creating HDR images for a panorama. The deghosting options are only necessary if something in your image was moving, and that isn't the case in this image. Once you make your choices click merge and Lightroom does the work.

Opening in HDR

After Lightroom assembles the images, you'll see the file below with the name of the first image, HDR and in DNG format (circled in the image below). Right now it just looks like a somewhat underexposed image. What isn't apparent is that it contains a huge range of usable exposure information which allows us to make very large adjustments in exposure and highlights and shadows without losing quality or increasing noise.


From here we begin working on the image just as we normally would in Lightroom. The first thing I did was get rid of the green cast. I selected the eyedropper tool and clicked on a couple of areas that were gray, until I found a spot that gave me a color balance I liked. Then I set the black point by shift-double clicking on the blacks pointer and then on the white pointer. I increased the overall exposure and brought down the highlights and raised the shadows. I increased clarity and vibrance a bit. Again I stay away from saturation.

Development in Lightroom

Here you can see the adjustments I made and their effects.

Development settings

And this is the resulting final image. It has a fairly realistic look. You could leave it here, but in Part 6 I'll take it into Photoshop for some extra tweaks.

Final HDR

We can make it a little more like the extreme HDR images you have seen by completely flattening the highlights, increasing the shadows all the way, and increasing clarity to the max. Below are the settings and resulting image. Which is right - the image above, or the one below? The choice is yours. Once you start working with HDR, there is no one right way, only your vision.

Extreme HDR