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HDR: Lightroom 5

Build up unbelievable and stunning HDR shots. Play and manipulate with color, texture and details.

It wasn’t too long ago that we all celebrated film photography and the possibilities it offered. During that period, many fantastic darkroom techniques were discovered and learned. 

But like all progressions in technological advancement, the once prestigious film photography technique has now become archaic – replaced by digital photography. 

Now in the arena of digital photography, High Dynamic Range (HDR) techniques can be said to be one of the most amazing breakthroughs ever to be attained in the history of the photograph, after digital photography itself.

An HDR photo by Andrew Coley

What's High Dynamic Range in Photography?

HDR photography technique involves the processing and merging of images with varied light exposures into a hybrid image – the HDR image. Usually, the component photos are shots from the same scene, the only variable being light exposures.

Why shooting HDR?

The answer is pretty simple and straightforward… Ever wondered why there is a marked difference between the captured version of a scene or environment and what your eyes see?

The simple answer is that our optical eyes are able to accommodate a much higher tonal range or light intensity than the camera. Even the best cameras are found wanting in this regard, especially when the shot is taken while facing the light or in an environment of very low light.

This is where the HDR technique becomes most relevant. By varying your camera’s light exposure mode or setting it to AEB, a series of shots can be taken and merged into a single (HDR) image that has improved highlight, mid-tone and shadow details. All these processes take place in an HDR app.

Why shoot HDR?

How to choose the High Dynamic Range App

What the HDR app essentially does is to automatically blend the best components of the under- and overexposed, as well as balanced shots to produce the hybrid (HDR) image with amazing highlight and shadow details. HDR apps play a fundamental role in the digital reconstruction of the tonal values of a picture.

Lightroom LR5 is a fantastic image editor with HDR features. This article focuses on how you can get stunning HDR results using Adobe Lightroom 5.

Adobe Lightroom 5: HDR vs non-HDR

Adobe Lightroom 5 is a fantastic tool for photographers, graphic artists, professionals, hobbyists and amateurs alike. One of the fascinating benefits of using LR 5 is its ability to help you with the effective organization and management of your image files. 

If you are a professional photographer or one who frequently uses images, you must have found out that your hard drive quickly gets filled with thousands of photos within a short while. Hence the need for effective management and organization of the files to keep things running as they should.

In addition to LR 5’s organizational competencies, the app has the potential for a wider range of image editing in its Develop Module. On Lightroom, whether you work with RAWs or JPEGs (for your HDR imaging), you are at liberty to do just about everything you need in LR 5’s editing environment. 

The software also integrates well with Aurora HDR for a more pleasant editing experience.

Lightroom 5: Export to Aurora HDR plugin

LR 5 is great at processing your photo exposures into an HDR hybrid image of a better dynamic range value. The result? An HDR image with improved highlight and shadow details, and a fascinating look-alike of the real-life scene.

An Overview of Lightroom 5 HDR Features

As earlier mentioned, the HDR photography technique has been in existence for some time now, howbeit, the feature was only incorporated into the Adobe LR workspace just a couple of years ago. 

The HDR in Lightroom 5 has, since its incorporation, continued to offer Lightroom enthusiasts the convenience of not having to exit LR to perform their HDR tasks.

Since an ideal HDR image is obtained from the processing and merging of individual photos, shot under different exposures, Lightroom 5’s HDR feature employs this modus operandi. RAW files are more flexible and compatible with this feature than jpeg or other formats.

Lightroom 5 Tools - Screenshot

It is recommended that you sync all settings throughout the exposure images when performing HDR tasks in LR 5. This is particularly necessary for settings such as cropping, lens corrections, and the likes, that have the tendency to cause a distorted effect in the overall result. Using the “Align” tool does help a great deal.

Another fascinating feature of LR 5, that’s characteristic of the LR series, is its ability to transform 32-bit images and other file formats as desired – perfect for an HDR workflow. You need not worry about your Tone Mappings; you can easily count on LR 5 for some really nice HDR-Tone-mapping effects.

Lightroom 5 HDR tool is fantastic; its image-blending options are quite flexible and easy – LR takes absolute care of the inconveniences of having to export your image files out of Lightroom and re-import them back again during your workflow. 

Create your HDR Images in Lightroom 5

If you are a Lightroom enthusiast, you’d agree that one of the app’s main characteristic features is its straightforwardness. Put differently, Lightroom 5 is unambiguous and fast. It’s no surprise that its HDR tool exhibits the same property. 

LR 5 allows you to carry out quick and satisfactory HDR processes. It also offers you the possibility to edit your resultant HDR image with ease and saves you the stress of having to go through the burdensome processes that characterize the use of some other HDR apps.

However efficient and fast LR 5 may be, there are certain occasions where the app comes short in its ability to deliver as expected, particularly when handling complex tasks. 

In such situations, you’d require some help from third-party presets and plugins. Here again, LR 5’s fantastic compatibility with third-party apps makes working within the app a breeze.

Aurora HDR Presets: Enhancing your Lightroom 5 HDR

Aurora HDR is a fascinating HDR tool created by Mac photo app giant, Macphun, and the HDR professional photographer, Trey Ratcliff. Aurora is designed to correctly handle all your HDR tasks in an amazing and intuitive way. Aurora HDR is fun to use which makes it a user-friendly app that gives you absolute control of your edits. For now it's even available in free trial version, which gives you an opportunity to try this amazing HDR software for free.

Using Aurora’s Presets for your Lightroom 5 HDR workflow is the surest way to getting stunning results most of the time. Even more incredible is the fact that these Presets have simplified slider controls that can be easily tweaked to achieve your desired HDR effect.

Aurora HDR Pro plugin: using a preset

Whether you are using Aurora as an LR 5 Preset, Plugin or even as a standalone app as an alternative to Lightroom CC, you’d love Aurora from its simplified installation to its stunning HDR photo editing functionalities and all. Simply put, using Aurora HDR Preset in LR 5 is the smartest and most efficient fun way to creating great HDR images.

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