How to Use HDR Photo Merge in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Other Great HDR Software
Last Updated on October 27, 2022 by Peter Wood
It is convenient to take various types of photos with smartphones now. But the standard high-dynamic-range photos are not included. Both iOS and Android devices provide some built-in methods for HDR photo merging automatically. It should be difficult to say you are satisfied with the effects without an HDR camera app or further editing.
Even if you have captured the bracketed images with HDR cameras, you still have to use HDR photo editors to balance the shadows and contrast. Since the dynamic range of most customized digital cameras and smartphones camera is low. That means you can capture a dark photo with such devices. And the shadow details on LDR (low dynamic range) photos will miss. Of course, you can use some accessories, like reflectors and ND gels, to shoot beautiful pictures. But it is not portable sometimes. Another solution is to create high dynamic range (HDR) images by software. That sounds more feasible. Therefore, this article will introduce how to use HDR merge to make HDR images a profession with ease.
HDR photo merging combines two or more photos with different exposures into a stunning HDR. HDR Photo Merge has been implemented inside Lightroom and Photoshop with the basic HDR effects. When you need to explore the surrealistic or nature effects for the HDR files with HDR photo merge to create HDR photos. WidsMob HDR is another excellent choice.
Part 1. What is HDR Photo Merge
HDR Merge is a feature of Lightroom to process photo files or RAW images to produce a DNG file. And the output file of Photo Merge can also be generated as HDR (High Dynamic Range) image or panorama image. Similar to the HDR Pro of Photoshop, HDR photo Merge can create HDR files with Lightroom.
But the current version, HDR Photo Merge of Lightroom is pretty basic without much room for manual control. If you have installed Lightroom, you can use the HDR Merge function built-in to achieve a natural HDR effects, but to create some good HDR photographs, you have to use other programs instead.
There is a lot of other HDR software to merge HDR photos. Photo HDR should be one of them that you can try. It is an affordable choice with the best result.
Features of HDR Merge
Auto Align and Auto Tone
Auto-Align is the first option of HDR Merge. And it is helpful for tiny differences between images taken handhold. Auto Tone can adjust the tone or exposure automatically. You'd better turn on the automatic settings for merging HDR files.
HDR photo is a combination of a series of images with different exposure. When you take a series of images, any movement in the frame should result in ghosting when you merge the HDR file. And the Deghosting feature can avoid a semi-transparent ghost of the moving stuff.
RAW contains more information than JPEG. You'd better use RAW to merge HDR photographs. But whether you start with JPG or RAW originals, the resulting merged HDR image is saved as a DNG RAW file along with its developing settings.
Part 2. How to Merge HDR Photos with WidsMob HDR
WidsMob HDR is an easy HDR photo merger, which helps you to create HDR images from bracketed images or apply HDR filters for single photos. It provides advanced tone mapping algorithms, auto-alignments, and ghost suppression, which handle both JPEG/JPG and RAW formats. Moreover, there are multiple HDR presets and advanced parameters to get the optimal HDR photos.
1. Merge HDR photos from bracketed images with auto-align and tone mapping.
2. Apply HDR filters to make HDR images from multiple presets and parameters.
3. Auto-align algorithm to make HDR with tone mapping and ghost suppression.
Step 1. Download and install WidsMob HDR, you can launch the program on your computer and click the Add Photos icon in the upper left corner to import the bracketed images. Of course, you can simply drag-n-drop the single photos to apply HDR effects.
Step 2. To blend photos into an HDR picture, you can choose the Bracketing mode, which can stitch the series of images with different exposures into a standard HDR photo. Different from other HDR photo editors, it has an advanced algorithm to merge HDR photos automatically.
Step 3. When the process is done, you can add some effects on the HDR image from the Effect tab. There are 10 built-in HDR effects you can choose from, such as Classic, Super Nature, Magic, Cooler, Fresh, Blue Sky, Painterly, B/W, Super B/W, and Old Photos according to your requirements.
Step 4. If you need to further edit the HDR filter, you can adjust the image saturation, vibrance, smart tone, color enhancement, color correction, contrast enhancement, tint, and more to make the beautiful HDR photos. After that, you can click the Save As button to export the HDR photos.
Export the made HDR image on your computer or share it via Dropbox or email.
Part 3. How to Merge HDR Photos via Lightroom
Step 1. The HDR process begins with selecting a series of images with different exposures. After you import the photos, you can merge multiple exposure-bracketed photos into a single HDR image with the HDR Merge feature of Adobe Lightroom. Select all the images with different exposures in the Lightroom. Choose Photo > Photo Merge > HDR or right-click and choose Photo Merge > HDR.
Step 2. And it takes a few seconds to Create HDR Preview. When you finish, you will get a dialog and a progress bar. If you are a newbie, you can use the auto settings to enable the HDR Photo Merge option.
Step 3. After merging the HDR photos, some areas in the HDR image might be unnatural, which you can use the de-ghosting option in HDR Merge to correct these anomalies. If you need to customize the HDR photos, you need to deselect the Auto Align and Auto Tone option.
Step 4. Finally, you can click Merge to create an HDR image with HDR Photo Merge. You can create images and displays them in your catalog, and then you can export the DNG file to the desired file accordingly.
If you use HDR Merge of Lightroom and HDR Pro of Photoshop, you might find the result might be different from each other. And the processing technique used is not the same either.
Part 4. How to Use HDR Merge with Photoshop
Photoshop is a well-known photo editor program. It is not a professional HDR merger that handles a different bracket and ghost suppression of images. If you do not take the photos with digital cameras on a tripod, Photoshop might not merge HDR images for you. Here is the detailed process to make HDR files for you.
Step 1. Launch Photoshop on your Mac computer and load the photos to create an HDR image.
Step 2. Navigate to the top menu. Select File and then Automate. And then choose Merge to HDR.
Step 3. Click on Add Open Files button to add the photos to make HDR image in Merge to HDR.
Step 4. Check Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images and click on OK to confirm it.
Step 5. If the source photos have different exposure values, Photoshop will show the Manually Set EV box. You can customize the value and click on OK to continue.
Step 6. The preview window will show up. Then you can adjust the output by adding and deleting the source photos and changing the white point.
Step 7. After you get the perfect result, click on OK to start the HDR converting process.
Step 8. When the process has done, the HDR image will show in Photoshop. Then you can go to File and Save As to save it as an HDR file, like TIFF or PSD.
Part 5. How to Use HDR Merge via PhotoMatrix
When you need to create some stunning HDR photos on your Windows PC, You can try Photomatrix Pro. It is one of the most professional HDR creators. What is more important, the program provides different presets, which enables you to choose the desired effects from the output HDR files. Here is the detailed process to make High Dynamic photos with Photomatrix Pro.
Step 1. Open Photomatrix Pro and click on Generate HDR image on the left menu bar.
Step 2. Select the photos to create an HDR picture and click on OK. It could read DNG photos without converting.
Step 3. After loaded, you can customize settings in the Options window, like Align source images, White Balance, reduce ghosting artifacts, and so on. Click on OK to continue.
Step 4. Navigate to the top ribbon and select File and Save As to save the result as an HDR image.
Step 5. Click on the Tone Mapping button on the left to activate the preview window. The option of Show Original allows you to see the changes.
Step 6. You can change the settings to make an HDR picture. The lower the value of Smoothing, the more surreal the HDR image. The lower the value of Strength, the more real the image.
Step 7. Select a solution from the Presets dropdown list.
Step 8. Click on Process to apply the effects.
Step 9. Finally, click on File and Save AS to save the HDR image.
Based on the introduction above, you can do HDR merge easily on your computer. Lightroom and Photoshop are the most professional HDR editor with the HDR merge function but only provides limited features. Photomatrix Pro is compatible with Windows without any update now. If you are looking for an easy-to-use HDR photo maker to make some beautiful HDR photos, WidsMob HDR is the best choice. You can merge HDR photos and apply HDR filters for most photo formats.