Lightroom HDR

(Click here if you have trouble viewing this video)

Can you create HDR images in Lightroom? Yes! Well, sort of. Lightroom only works with one photograph at a time, so you can't blend different exposures of a scene together. But you can handle some high-contrast scenes in Lightroom, without HDR software or Photoshop, by using Lightroom's tools to exploit your camera's full dynamic range. I explain how in this latest video.

Like many inventions, this technique was born out of laziness. I wanted to avoid the sometimes tedious process of blending exposures manually in Photoshop, with HDR software, or my favorite plugin, LR/Enfuse. I also try to keep my adjustments flexible by using Lightroom's non-destructive workflow whenever possible.

This technique only works with Raw images, and scenes where the contrast isn't extreme, but I keep finding more and more situations where it does work. If you try it, let me know how you make out!

As always, be sure to view this in high definition (720p) to see the tools and sliders clearly.

—Michael Frye

Related Posts: Using Curves in Lightroom and Camera Raw; New Video: White Balance for Landscape Photographs

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBook Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.

In the Moment: Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog

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    Thanks for the tutorial – I have PS CS-5 and have been considering investing in LR3, mainly for its noise reduction properties but it also looks like there are several other functions that I would find useful.

    You’re welcome James – glad you liked this. You can actually do everything in this video in Adobe Camera Raw, and ACR has the same noise-reduction tools as Lightroom. In fact the Develop Module in Lightroom is almost identical to ACR, just laid out differently. Personally I find it easier to use Lightroom, where editing, sorting, and keywording functions are integrated with the develop tools, rather than the combination of Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, but most of the same functionality is there.

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