44 Increase your range
Create natural-looking HDR images with ease by merging exposures in Camera Raw and Photoshop. James Paterson shows you how…
Merge exposures in Camera Raw and Photoshop to create natural-looking HDR images, without the overcooked effect that spoils many
Of all the ways to create High Dynamic Range images, Photoshop’s ‘Merge to HDR Pro’ command has always lagged behind the best options available. Like all HDR tools, it enables you to combine a set of exposures into one image with a dynamic range beyond what your camera is capable of. However, it suffers badly in comparison to dedicated third-party offerings, such as Photomatix Pro, and almost all of the HDR presets it offers are too harsh, for my taste at least. It’s not completely without merit, as it does let you create 32-bit HDR files, but if you’re serious about HDR then it’s worth exploring other ways to achieve the effect.
Thankfully, Adobe has added an excellent feature to Photoshop CC’s Camera Raw plug-in (and Lightroom) that merges a set of exposures for you, creating a 16-bit HDR RAW file in the process. It means you can produce HDRs without the overcooked effects that turn many photographers off.
The HDR controls on offer in Camera Raw are fairly limited, but the results are usually very good. In this tutorial we’ll explain how it’s done, first by combining frames in Camera Raw, then by enhancing the details and finishing off the image in Photoshop. With these skills you’ll be able to create images with a level of detail that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. You can produce landscapes with radiant skies and detail-rich land, even in contrasting light. Or you could capture interior scenes without blown-out windows.
In fact, any high-contrast scene can potentially benefit from the HDR treatment, and with the controls on offer in Camera Raw, bringing everything together is both quick and easy.