STEP BY STEP
Get creative with dynamic range
1 Merge to HDR
Start by selecting all the source images in Bridge, then right-click any one of them and choose Open in Camera Raw from the menu. They’ll be displayed in the filmstrip panel down the left side of the Camera Raw window – use the menu to Select All and then Merge to HDR…
3 Boost flat skies
Camera Raw will merge the separate shots into a single DNG file, ready for editing, and this is where you can really enhance the results. For example, although it’s not specifically designed for skies, the Dehaze tool gives our flat-looking sky a more dramatic, stormy look.
5 Add some clarity
Sometimes you can compress a wide brightness range in an HDR shot so much that it loses contrast and looks ‘flat’. If so, try giving the Clarity slider a hefty boost. This increases the localized contrast in the picture, making objects and outlines stand out much more clearly.
2 Preview the composite
Camera Raw will merge the images and show a composite preview in this window. You can leave the Align Images and Auto Tone boxes checked. The Deghost option is there if you have movement between frames. If you turn it on, you’ll see ‘ghosted’ areas show in the picture.
4 Exploit Highlights and Shadows
The advantage of using Camera Raw for HDR is that you use its regular adjustment tools to improve your picture, rather than having to master bespoke and complex HDR tools. Here, we’ve juggled the Exposure, Highlights and Shadows sliders to get the maximum tonal range.
6 Darken the sky
If the sky is still a little too bright, use the Graduated Filter tool to darken it down – the DNG file almost certainly has highlight detail in reserve that you can bring out. We’ve finished off with the filter’s Brush tool to erase the effect on the church tower where it juts up into the sky.