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Make HDR Photos in Photoshop CS6

Explore two ways to make stunning HDR images with ease: native tools for primary editing and plugins for extra proficiency.

High dynamic range photography captures the greatest amount of light from a given scene, exposing the frame to take in the darkest to the lightest details. Having those details in shadow and highlight areas of your photo make it look realistic and precise. Done right, HDR photos are impressive and can take you back to how you originally saw the scene. Well known apps like Photoshop are probably the best option suited for this task, but alternatives like HDR Expose can be a good choice as well.

How to make an HDR image in Photoshop CS6

Once you have bracketed photos to process, launch Photoshop CS6 and merge them by taking the steps below:

Launch Photoshop. Click on the File drop-down, find Automate and select Merge to HDR Pro. Choose the brackets and click OK.

If you want to find out how to easily enhance your HDR image further with Photoshop CS6 plugins, read more below.

Create and enhance HDR photos with the Aurora HDR Plugin

Aurora HDR Pro is a proprietary image-processing engine developed exclusively to help you create amazing, magical HDR photos. Download and install it on your Mac or use a free Aurora HDR trial option before purchase.

Launch Photoshop, open the photo and right-click on it. Find Macphun Software and select Aurora HDR Pro. Click Create HDR and Apply.

HDR Toning in Photoshop

We use Adobe Photoshop to convert 32-bit imaging and HDR-16 or 8-bit LDR file by means tone mapping. We select the type of tone mapping depending on the subjects and the distribution of brightness in the picture.

Start converting the image to the normal 16-bit (Image → Mode → 16 Bits / Channel), and you will see HDR Toning controls. You can select one of four tone mapping methods as described below.

Exposure and Gamma

This method gives you the ability to adjust the exposure and gamma manually, which change brightness and contrast respectively.

Highlight Compression

This method has no settings, it uses a unique tone curve, which significantly reduces the contrast of the bright parts to lighten and keep the contrast in the rest of the image.

Equalize Histogram

This histogram equalization method attempts to redistribute the HDR histogram in the contrast range of conventional 16 or 8-bit image. It uses a tone curve that stretches the histogram peaks so that it becomes more homogeneous. Typically, this works best for histograms, where there are several relatively narrow peaks with no pixels in between.

Local Adaptation

Local adaptation is the most flexible method, and probably the most commonly used by photographers. Unlike the above three, this method changes the brightness of the screen on a pixel by pixel basis (similar to the increase in local contrast). This method allows you to change the tone curve to enhance the picture.

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