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How to Create an HDR in Photoshop Using the Merge TO HDR Pro Feature

What you see is not what you captured with a digital camera. Human eyes can adapt to different brightness levels smartly, while digital cameras and monitors are limited to a fixed dynamic range only. If you want to represent the vivid world you see, you need to adjust the exposure to dig out the entire dynamic range. That’s why you create HDR images. For people who subscribe to Adobe Photoshop, you can check the following tutorial to create an HDR image in Photoshop. You can achieve the Photoshop HDR effect step by step.

By the way, if you are not very familiar with Photoshop, and you want to quickly create HDR images, you can use a Photoshop alternative instead. It is WidsMob HDR that can recreate HDRs with a set of 3 bracketed images in clicks. You can adjust HDR effects and parameters with easy-to-move sliders with ease. Compared with Adobe Photoshop, WidsMob HDR is a beginner-friendly HDR photo editor. You can make an HDR image within 3 minutes on Mac.

Whatever, no matter you use Photoshop or WidsMob HDR, you can get the detailed steps to create HDR photos. Just read and follow.

HDR Photoshop


Part 1: How to Create a Manual HDR Image with Photoshop

There is the Merge To HDR Pro feature in Adobe Photoshop. You can combine several images with different exposures into an HDR using Photoshop on your computer. This section will show you how to make exposure adjustment and create 32-bps HDR images in Photoshop. You can follow the similar steps to merge 8/16-bpc images into HDR as well.

Note: Make sure your pictures are captured in the same scene. Exposure is the only difference among those imported images in Photoshop.

Step 1: Run Adobe Photoshop. Choose Automate from the File drop-down list on the top. Then select Merge To HDR Pro from its submenu.

Merge Into HDR Pro

Step 2: In the popping-up Merge To HDR Pro dialog box, click Browse to add a set of exposures into Photoshop. Thus, you can create a high dynamic range image with Photoshop. Mark before Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images. Then click OK to move on.

Choose File for Photoshop HDR

Step 3: Wait for a while for Photoshop to create an HDR photo. Later, you can see a preview of the merged HDR result in a new popup. The imported source images will display at the bottom.

HDR Preview

Step 4: To save the entire dynamic range of this Photoshop HDR image, select 32 Bit from the Mode list on the top right corner. Or you can save an HDR as 8 or 16 bit HDR image as well. Move the white point icon with the slider under the histogram. You can make the preview adjustment freely.

32 Bit

Step 5: Or you can save a HDR as 8 or 16 bit HDR image as well. Here you can adjust the specific dynamic range you want using the Photoshop HDR tool.

8-16 Bit

Step 6: Save the Photoshop HDR effect. Or you can save it as an HDR preset in Photoshop as well. Go back to the Photoshop main interface. At last, save your HDR Photoshop image as TIFF or other image formats.

Save HDR Photoshop

Part 2: How to Make an Automated HDR Image with WidsMob HDR

Photoshop is a professional photo editor for Windows and Mac users. The HDR Photoshop tool is just a smart part. It is true that you can retouch and edit HDR images in details within Photoshop. But Photoshop is really expensive and difficult to use for common users. If you want to cancel the Photoshop subscription, WidsMob HDR can be your best HDR Photoshop alternative. Here’re the main features.

1. Create HDR images on Mac automatically with the advanced HDR algorithm technology.

2. Convert a 32-bit floating pointing format to 8-bit image with tone mapping.

3. Customize HDR photo parameters, including brightness, saturation, contrast, vignetting, etc.

4. Permanent license and free update for 5 computers.

5. Clean, intuitive and user-friendly interface.

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Step 1: Run WidsMob HDR after installing. Click Import to import a set of 3 bracketed images.

Import Photo on HDR

Step 2: You can see the selected images displayed in the main interface. Click Next to merge into an HDR.

Add Images HDR

Step 3: The auto-merged HDR image shows in the main interface. You can adjust HDR effects with the tools in the right panel. Later, click Save to export HDR or click Next to continue editing.

Make Changes HDR

Step 4: Move the sliders to find the best HDR result. Those HDR editing tools are available in Photoshop as well. But you don’t need to find them from these or those lists. WidsMob HDR just lists all necessary tools in the right panel directly. At last, click Share or Save to export your HDR photograph.

Adjust Effect HDR

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Part 3: Tips to Take Photos for Photoshop Merge to HDR Pro

1. It is suggested to take at least 5 images to cover the full dynamic range of the scene. When you add images into Photoshop for HDR creation, you should import at least 3 images.

2. The auto-bracket feature in your camera is not suitable for creating HDRs. Because the available exposure changes are small.

3. Use a tripod to take pictures. make sure the scene in the monitor is not moving.

4. Don’t vary the lightning in a set of bracketed images.


That’s all to create a HDR in Photoshop and WidsMob HDR. There is no need to install extra HDR Photoshop plugin. Because Adobe Photoshop has the built-in Merge To HDR Pro feature. But it is still not easy to use. Compared with WidsMob HDR, it takes longer time to upload and merge images into HDR. Because Photoshop takes high CPU usage, while WidsMob HDR is only a lightweight HDR maker. The output image quality is similar. You can save or share HDRs with both two HDR merging software successfully.

All in all, if you still need to edit HDR images with Photoshop, you can use Photoshop to merge high dynamic range images on your computer. But if you just want to create HDRs on Mac only, Adobe Photoshop is not your first choice. You can quickly merge images into HDR using WidsMob HDR with a cheaper and much more intuitive interface. The free trial shows all HDR merging and editing features. If you are not sure, you can download the free version to have a try. Later, you can upgrade to the full version to remove the watermark.

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Peter Wood
Peter Wood
Peter Wood, a senior editor, focus on photography design and editing software and devices.

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