How To Create HDR Images In Adobe Lightroom 6/CC

of 06
How To Create HDR Images In Adobe Lightroom 6/CC

How to use the new HDR creation feature of Lightroom CC.

HDR – High Dynamic Range- as its name implies, is a method that aims to add more "dynamic range" to photographs, where dynamic range is the ratio of light to dark in a photograph. Instead of just taking one photo, you take three photos shot using different exposures. In simplistic terms, you get the perfect exposure and then take one underexposed and one overexposed image. From there you use image editing software – in this case, Lightroom CC-  to put those three images together and highlight the best parts of each photo.

Needless to say, I am not a huge fan of the HDR because many of the images I see look overdone. This is not to say I don’t like the technique. From a creative point of view, it opens up a whole world of imaging possibilities. What a lot of folks need to learn is to say, “OK, that’s enough”.

In this “How To” we are going to explore the new HDR feature of Lightroom CC. What I most like about it is how easy it is to use and how it can be a great first step into creating HDR images and learning  to say, “OK, that’s enough.”

One final note about Lightroom. There are actually 2 versions of the software: Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6. The only difference between the two is Lightroom 6 is a stand-alone product. Lightroom CC is aimed at CreativeCloud users and gives them access to their CreativeCloud Assets folder and works seamlessly with  Adobe Lightroom Mobile on their iOS devices.

With that out of the way, let’s get started.

of 06
How To Create The Images For HDR

You need at least three images- Over exposed, Under exposed, Normal Exposure- to get started.

To start, this technique works best when you shoot RAW files with your DSLR.

As I pointed out earlier, you need three images because an HDR photo emphasizes the Shadow, Highlight and Midtone data in the composite image.  There are a number of ways of accomplishing this: Use the Bracketing feature of your DSLR, use three different f-stop settings, use different exposures or any other technique that results in three shots of the same image, In the case of this exercise I changed the Exposure for each shot.

of 06
How To Prepare The Images For An HDR Composite in Adobe Lightroom CC

Apply Lens Correction and Camera Landscape profiles to each of the images.

You can use a number of exposures but the minimum is three. What I do is to select the images in the Lightroom Library and Group them by pressing Command-G (Mac) or Control-G (PC). The next step is to open the group to apply Lens Correction and,in the Camera Calibration panel, I select Camera Landscape from the Profile pop down menu. These are applied to each of the images in the group.  

of 06
How To Create The HDR Composite In Lightroom CC.

Creating the HDR Composite is done from the Photo Merge menu.

The next step in the process is to return to the Library panel and select the grouping. With the grouping selected, choose Photo> Photo Merge> HDR. This will open the HDR Preview panel.

For a complicated technique, this panel has been stripped down to its basics. The choices under the HDR Options area are broken into 2 areas. At The top are Auto Tone and Auto Align and, underneath, how to Deghost the composite.

When you shoot your images you may be shooting at a slower shutter sped for a few of them. This will introduce blurring to objects that move in the image. Deghosting looks for these blurs and fixes them. In the case of this image, I didn’t think the house would move so I selected None.

You also might want to consider deselecting Auto Tone. You are most likely going to be doing a bit of color correction in Lightroom, which makes this choice unnecessary.

When you are finished click the Merge button. You will see a progress bar and when it finishes the DNG version of the composite will appear in your Library.

of 06
Colour Correcting The HDR Image in Adobe Lightroom CC

Use the Develop Module to adjust the colour and to add a Graduated Filter.

The first step in this process is to select the DNG HDR composite and open it in the Develop Module.

In looking at the Histogram I noticed there were not a lot of highlights. To deal with this I pulled the Highlights slider all the way to the right and the Shadows slider to the left. Then I adjusted the Whites and Blacks in the image and moved the Clarity slider to 100%.

I then added a Graduated Filter to the bottom of the image to bring up a bit more detail in the foreground of the deck. I then readjusted the Clarity.

of 06
How To Adjust Luminence Values in Adobe Lightroom CC

The sky is adjusted using the Luminance Panel and a brush.

The sky still didn’t have the “pop” I was looking for. To fix this, I opened the HSL panel and selected Luminance. I then selected the “Brush” in the Luminance panel and painted over the sky to bring up the color I was looking for. Clicking and dragging up or down or from left to right will lighten or darken the color of the sky.

At this point I decided, “OK, that’s enough.” and exported the image out of Lightroom as a jpg image.