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

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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

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