Create High Dynamic Range Photos in Photoshop

This tutorial will demonstrate you how to create high dynamic range (HDR) photos using Photoshop. High dynamic range photos are photos which has more tonal range than normal photos. Simply say that you will be able to see more color tones with this kind of photo.

Let’s learn about basic details.

1. Let’s take a look at this shot.

You can see that there is no detail in the shadow area but the highlight area has all detail. The typical photo looks like this.

2. Before going into details, I want to get you more detail how HDR is created. HDR can be done with several photography programs as Photoshop, Photomatrix, etc. The concept is to merge several exposure values into one photo; therefore, you need take photos with several exposures in order to get a lot of details from shadow to highlight.

–  Set your camera firmly on a tripod.

– Take several photos with several exposures as -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3 stop. You need at least three shots (under exposure, correct exposure, over exposure) in order to get good shadow and high light detail. For this example, I take a total of 5 shots.

Let’s go to Photoshop.

1. Go to File>Automate>Merge to HDR.

2. The pop up will be show and you need to select “Browse”.

3. Select photos and check the box “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Image”, then press OK.

4. Photoshop initially merge all photos for you. Your result will look like this.

5. On this example, you can see that there are two areas where color is not good due to merging.

6. I get rid of some exposure values (EV +3, EV0 and EV -1.32). This depends on your image. You may not need to do it or you may need to get rid of some like I do. You also can adjust brightness of this photo by sliding the bar located at the top right.

7. Change bit depth. There are 3 options which are 32 Bit/Channel, 16 Bit/Channel and 8 Bit/Channel. You need to select either 16 Bit/Channel or 8 Bit/Channel because they give you more options to adjust the final image. I select 16 Bit/Channel.

8. HDR conversion pop up will be shown. There are four methods for adjusting your image as Exposure and Gamma, Highlight Compression, Equalize Histogram and Local Adaption.

9. Exposure and Gamma is used to adjust brightness and contrast by sliding the Exposure and Gamma bar.

10. Highlight Compression- with this option, you are not able to change any parameters.

11. Equalize Histogram – with this option, you are not able to change any parameters as well.

12. Local Adaption – it is the best option and I recommend you to use it because it has a curve providing more flexibility to adjust brightness/contrast. Moreover, you can change Radius and Threshold as well. Try to play with this option until you feel satisfied with the result and then press OK.

13. This is the final result.

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You may have seen leaves or grass with unusual color and you may just wonder how we can use Photoshop to change color of leaf, grass or anything. Basically, I just simply use “Hue/Saturation” in Photohsop to do this job. Anyway, please see my before and after shot as shown below (the forest is changed from green leaf forest to autumn forest);


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Graduated ND Filter Effect in Photoshop

You may have a problem in regard to capture high contrast photos especially landscape photos. When you try to get the right exposure for the sky, the ground bill be dark and you lose details. On the other hand, if you try to get the right exposure for the ground, your sky will be washed out (lost of details). In order to fight with this situation, you may consider using graduated ND filter so you can balance exposure between the sky and the ground but you need to pay extra money for that.

Well, this problem can be solved with Photoshop. Firstly, you need to take photos with RAW format because you can get more information from RAW instead of normal JPG format. Then, you convert your RAW file into 2 JPG files and merge them together by Adobe Photoshop. Anyway, please be informed that this method is good for differences between the sky and the ground just only 2-3 stops. If you have extreme contrast between them, you may need to shoot many exposures and merge them together into one High Dynamic Range photo (HDR).

Let’s take a look of before and after processing.


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Glowing Photo Photoshop Technique

This digital darkroom processing technique is the combination of Gaussian Blur filter and layer blending. It looks like taking photos with a soft filter and photos still have glowing effect. You can see from the example below how your photos will look like after processing with Adobe Photoshop. It’s so simple and easy to follow.


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Please see the before and after shot as shown below.


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Perspective Correction with Adobe Photoshop

When you take photo with wide angle lens, you can easily see that your architecture is always converging vertical. There are 2 options to correction this situation as follows:

1. Use Tilt&Shift lens. With this option, you can correction the perspective completely straight from your camera but Tilt&Shift lens is very costly.

2. Use Adobe Photoshop. I normally use Adobe Photoshop to cope with this problem.

On this post, I will share the easy way to use Adobe Photoshop to correct perspective due to wide angle lens.


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