Photography Blog

5 HDR Software Options to Make Editing HDR Images Much Easier

Although you may not know exactly how it works, by now you've likely heard of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. The technique of HDR photography is fairly simple: Take a light photo, a normal photo, and a dark photo and merge them together to create a single image that looks magnificent. 

Get Started With HDR Photography

HDR photography often results in more dynamic and captivating images

But in practice, compiling HDR images is a bit more difficult than that. The good news is that there isn't just one way to produce an HDR image — in fact, there are five popular editing tools that make it simple. Test a few of these HDR software options and decide which you like best.

1. Photoshop

Photoshop gives photographers the ability to blend multiple images into one HDR photo easily. After importing the photos you would like to blend, select them all. In the navigation bar, select Tools > Photoshop and then merge to HDR pro.

The program will then place all of your photos into layers and align them so that they fit together seamlessly. Once the photos have been merged, you can click OK and continue to edit your photo as you would normally.

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2. Photomatix Pro

This HDR processing tool is one of the most popular amongst HDR photographers. To create your HDR image, simply select the files you want to blend from your computer and drag them over the Photomatix Pro icon on your desktop. A window will appear asking what you would like to do — select "Merge for HDR processing" and click OK.

The next window will ask you some preliminary photo editing questions about alignment, removing ghosting, noise, chromatic aberration and white balance. Once you've answered the questions, select Pre-process. After the photos have been merged, you can go through and edit your photo by changing the strength, saturation, luminosity, detail contrast and much more.

3. Easy HDR

As the name suggests, this program makes creating HDR images incredibly easy. Simply import the photos you want to blend in Easy HDR and a window will appear. Select "Generate HDR," and you've got your image — easy as that! There are also a few settings you can adjust to fine tune your image afterward.

In Camera HDR Photography

4. Lightroom

While there technically isn't an HDR option in Lightroom, there are ways that you can adjust the highlights and shadows on a single image to create a similar HDR look. After importing a RAW image, decrease the contrast by bringing the highlights and the shadows closer to the center of your histogram. Boosting the clarity will enhance the look, giving an HDR aesthetic to your photo. Of course, you'll need to play around and see how much alteration you'd like to make.

5. In-Camera HDR Mode

The simplest way to make an HDR image without any additional software is straight from your camera. Many smartphones and DSLR cameras have this feature built right into the camera. Just turn on the HDR setting and the camera does the work for you. Keep in mind that the software inside of a camera isn't as powerful or creative as software made specifically made for photo editing, and in-camera HDR may leave your photos looking unrealistic.

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Learn how to get the most from your camera, for photographs that help you build a body of work you’re proud to share and display.Get My FREE Guide »

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