What is HDR Photography in Photoshop and how it works

Whether you are a big fan of photography or – more simply – a person who enjoys the great look of your photos using software like Photoshop, you’ll definitely heard of HDR.

The HDR (stands for High Dynamic Range Imaging) is a technique that allows you to merge multiple shots of the same scene to create a more “complete”, that is inclusive of all the possible variations in brightness. Can be used to enhance photos and make them more “natural”, that is closer to what the human eye sees, or to obtain a kind of fantasy style that is so fashionable lately.

HDR earl and after

With the guidance of today I want to focus on the subject as explaining what to do HDR with Photoshop. Think, there are at least a couple of ways to do that: one “official” that involves the use of multiple shots at different exposure levels and one a bit ‘more crude, but highly effective, which allows you to get a HDR effect from single shots. Here they are in detail.

Create HDR with Photoshop HDR Pro

HDR Pro

Let’s start from the function to create HDR photos in Photoshop automatically, the one to use when you have multiple shots of the same scene. To use it, start the software and select the item Automate> Merge to HDR Pro File menu.

In the window that opens, click the Browse button, select the photos you want to use to create the HDR image and press OK. Wait a few seconds for Photoshop examine the shots and, if necessary, adjust the parameters related to the exposure photos to help the program to recognize them better. When finished, click OK to go ahead.

At this point you have the ability to adjust all the settings for the output. Among the most important values that you should consider are: Radius and Intensity of the Glow edge thanks to which you can make it bright and contrasting edges of the subjects in the picture; Range and Details that allow you to adjust the midtones of the image; Exposure to control the exposure of the picture as a whole and then all the parameters in the Advanced panel that can adjust shadows, light and color (vividness and saturation). Finally we point out the function Curve, accessible by clicking on the namesake card, through which you can adjust the contrast of the image.

When you’re satisfied with the result, click OK and save your HDR photos by selecting Save As from the File menu of Photoshop. It was not difficult, since?

Create HDR from a single shot with Photoshop

HDR one shot

But now we see how to do HDR photography in Photoshop in a more “craft” using a single click. The first step you need to accomplish in this case is to import the photos into the program by selecting Open from the File menu (or simply dragging the image in Photoshop window).

Afterwards you have to alter the brightness of the picture by going to Image> Adjustments and clicking on Shadows / Lights. In the window that opens, then set the values and Quantity Factor on 50% and click OK to save the changes.

After changing the base image, duplicate the layer 0 by selecting it from the box located at the bottom right and pressing Ctrl + J on your keyboard (cmd + j on the Mac). Therefore eliminates the color from the new layer by selecting Desaturate menu Image> Adjustments and applies the Hard Light blend mode using the drop-down menu always placed in the lower right corner.

Finally, it creates a new copy of the level 0 and move it on top of the box to level management (using the mouse), set the blending mode to Soft Light and use the Gaussian Blur filter in the menu Filter> Blur to apply a blur level 40 image.