Master HDR in minutes
Who needs HDR plug-ins? As George Cairns reveals, Adobe Camera Raw’s ‘Merge to HDR…’ feature produces natural, controllable results
Produce natural-looking HDR images without resorting to specialist software
Photoshop has long had its own HDR tools, but these have been rather complex in the past. And while there are plenty of third-party HDR plug-ins on the market, the difficulty with these is that they introduce new jargon and processes to learn and it’s not always easy to create naturallooking results and avoid that oversaturated HDR ‘look’.
But the arrival of the Merge to HDR… feature in Adobe Camera Raw is really welcome. It doesn’t just save time, it produces refreshingly natural-looking HDR images with little effort.
Like other HDR tools, it presents an early preview of your merged image with controls for optimizing the results. Camera Raw can automatically align images (useful if you weren’t using a tripod) and automatically adjust the exposure (Auto Tone). It also has Deghosting options, which you may need to resolve movement between frames.
Most of our walkthrough is devoted to the adjustments you can apply to your HDR image once it’s been merged. You’re working in the familiar Camera Raw editing environment with a flexible DNG-format image and all the global and local adjustment tools at your disposal. Those you’ll find most useful for HDR are the Dehaze tool, Exposure, Highlight, Shadow and Clarity sliders, and Graduated Filter – between them, they can work wonders.
B EF O RE Af ter The mission ● Create an HDR composite in Adobe Camera Raw Time ● 15 minutes Skill level ● Beginner ● Intermediate ● Advanced Kit needed ● Photoshop CC