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In this movie, I'm going to show you a technique for using Photoshop and Lightroom together to process an HDR image, or high dynamic range image, one that's made from a number of different exposures of the same scene. I'll be making a realistic type of HDR image, the purpose of which is to get the maximum detail in the highlights and in the shadows, and that's a bit different from that kind of over saturated HDR images that are so popular these days. But you could use the techniques that I show you here to get that sort of a look as well. What I think is so great about this technique is that it lets you use the familiar controls right in Lightroom to process your HDR image.
So I'm starting here in Lightroom with five exposures of the same scene. I'll select them all in the film strip, in the Develop module, or in the Library module. And then I'll go up to the Photo menu and I'll choose Edit In > Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop. That passes the five images over to Photoshop, and what Photoshop is doing is aligning all five images in a single document, which is then going to open into the Merge to HDR Pro dialog in just a moment. The Merge to HDR Pro window shows a default merged version of the five images that I started with, and the thumbnails down here represent those images.
By default, this dialog box opens to controls for tone mapping a 16-bit HDR image, and you'll see those controls as long as this other menu is set to the local adaptation method. At the time I'm recording this movie the current version of Photoshop is Photoshop CS6, and the current version of Lightroom is Lightroom 4.1. If you have older versions of either Photoshop or Lightroom than that, then this is where you'll do your HDR processing. I'm not going to go through all the sliders here because I want to show you how to do it in the current software.
But if you're interested, I have a movie on Merging to HDR Pro in another course I recorded for lynda.com in the online training library. It's called Photoshop CS5 New Features. So I'd like to take advantage of the ability to process a 32-bit HDR image. And to do that, I'll go to the mode menu and I'll change that to 32-bit. Here there are no sliders to tweak. There is one slider here, but it doesn't really matter what you put this at, because this is just a preview slider, so I'll leave it as is.
Now up here there is a Remove ghosts check box. If there were a subject that had moved during the time I took these exposures, there might be a kind of a ghosting look in the image and if I click this checkbox, Photoshop would do its best to remove that ghosting. I really don't think it's a problem in this image, but it can't hurt to check the box. So now I'm done in the Merge to HDR Pro dialog, I'm going to click the OK button to exit out. Photoshop has now created a merged 32-bit image. Now right now it doesn't look very good, but that's because I haven't processed it to taste yet.
I am going to go back to Lightroom to do that, so all there is for me to do here in Photoshop is to save the image. I'll press Cmd+S on the Mac, or Ctrl+S on the PC, and that saved the merged HDR image in the format that I chose for external editing back in Lightroom's External Editor Preferences. This happens to be a TIFF, and it's a very large TIFF. It is a 32-bit image as you can see up here in the document title. I'll close the image in Photoshop and I'll go back to Lightroom. Now in the film strip, in the Develop module, you can see in addition to the first five images, which are the original raw images that I started with, the merged HDR TIFF, the 32-bit image. And now comes what I think is the best part of this technique, which is being able to process this 32-bit image using Lightroom's controls, and those are all controls with which you are familiar anyway as a Lightroom user.
So you don't have yet another software to learn to create an HDR look. As I usually do, I'll start in the basic panel, adjusting exposure, and contrast and highlight, shadows. Maybe I'll bring up the Whites and bring down the Blacks. And the Clarity slider and the Vibrance and Saturation sliders can get you more of that saturated look that's very popular. But I'm going to actually try to make a realistic looking image here, so I'll cut back on those.
And there are many other controls available in the panels in Lightroom, all of which you can apply to this 32- bit image, everything from black and white conversion, to Split Toning and so forth. You can even apply local adjustments. So let's say that I'd like to draw the viewer's attention to this building in the foreground, which is in such contrast to the more modern building behind it. I'll go to the Adjustment brush, and that brings up all of these sliders, which I can use with this brush. I'm going to increase the exposure of that building, so I'll start by dragging the Exposure slider to the right, and then I'll move over the building, and I'm going to paint a mask on top of the building that defines the area that my adjustment brush is going to affect.
I can show you that mask by clicking this checking box. And actually, I want a little more masking here and here. If I hold the Option key, if I've gone too far with my mask, I can raise some of the mask. I'll uncheck that box, and now I'll go back over to the controls for the Adjustment brush and I can tweak them. So I could increase the Exposure, I might make the Highlights brighter, I'll add some Clarity for mid tone contrast, and so forth. And when I'm done I'll click the Adjustment brush again to close those controls.
So using the familiar Lightroom controls, I can get a pretty convincing, realistic or surrealistic HDR image, and the advantage of working with a 32-bit HDR file like this is that I have the maximum amount of information from which to obtain detail in both highlights and in shadows.
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