Nail natural-looking HDR
James Paterson explains how to combine several exposures into a single, highly detailed image using Lightroom’s HDR Merge feature
Retain detail in highlights and shadows using Lightroom
Lightroom’s HDR feature enables you to merge several exposures into one, providing a high dynamic range with detail in the brightest highlights and darkest shadows (which makes it particularly useful for high-contrast interiors and landscapes). Best of all, it then creates a merged DNG RAW file packed with tonal information. Understandably, the Lightroom feature isn’t as in-depth as dedicated HDR software such as Photomatix or Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, or even Photoshop’s own Merge to HDR command.
But Lightroom’s approach is slightly different. It creates a detail-rich RAW file without the over-processed look that puts many photographers off HDR. So it’s more HDR as a utility than as a style, and all the better for it. While limited, the options in the HDR Merge command are very effective. There’s an Auto Align feature, so as long as camera movement isn’t too severe, you can get away with merging hand-held sequences. There’s also a Deghost control to fix movement within the frame.