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HDR Photography Made Easy

HDR photography aims at mimicking the human eye. It strikes the balance between light and dark areas to give an evenly exposed photograph that has greater depth. However, you can produce HDR images without the help of third party software like Photomatix – and good quality HDR photos at that. HDR photography is synonymous with overly-saturated photos with large halos.  This effect is caused by method that is commonly used in HDR photography called ‘tonemapping’.  You can avoid this with the use of High Dynamic Range and with full manual control. Here is how…

CC image courtesy Syed Abdul Khaliq

1. Start off with choosing a location and taking as many pictures as possible in different exposures. This way, different elements in the frame are exposed correctly in at least one picture.  HDR photography relies on the theorem of merging different images. Download these pictures into your computer and edit them on Adobe Camera Raw. Edit them first, like straightening or cropping.  Next, decide upon what element you’re going to focus upon in each image.  For example: If you have an image with the ocean, choose amongst the many elements, say the foreground first.


2. With each image, you need to finish a rough editing of the elements in the picture.  Once you’re done with the editing, duplicate all of the images into a single document.  The next task is to erase portions of each image, so that all the remaining parts blend and create a HDR image.  Once you start with the editing, you’ll have an idea of how the final image would look like.  Go through each layer and keep improving upon the quality.  Try some non-destructive editing so as to avoid any unnaturalness.

3. If you’re satisfied with the image, go ahead and save the file as a PSD document.  Using such a technique is a great starting point for landscape photographers, introducing many useful points such as merging multiple images into one via layers, layer masks and brushing things in and out. Next, merge all the layers in your document to one layer and save it as a JPG file. Once you’re done with the saving, open Adobe Bridge and open the .JPG file that you saved. Press Ctrl +R to re-edit.


Go ahead and open the edited file back up in Photoshop. Make all the last minute changes that you want to and lastly, save the image. Undoubtedly, this is the easiest way to make HDR pictures. Your initial attempts need not satisfy you, but as you keep trying, results shall bear fruit.

Best of luck.

~Zahid Javali