How to Apply HDR Effect on Photo in 3 Easy and Effective Ways

Last Updated on October 27, 2022 by Peter Wood

When you preview a series of photographs, HDR photos should be the most stunning photographs that attract your attention. If you do have HDR cameras, how to apply some HDR effects to your shots? As for a series of bracketed images, you should merge them into a stunning HDR photo with HDR photo editors. Besides, there are multiple HDR effects for single photos. Just learn more about the 3 easy and effective ways to make HDR photos from the article.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photograph designs to solve highlights and shadows. Either highlights or shadows should be one of the most frustrating trends in high contrast photography. For example, when you are in outdoor photography, the big challenge you will face is the high contrast created by the bright sky versus a darker foreground. You should note that the correct exposure would not avoid blown-out highlights and flat shadows.

At this point, you can optimize your photos through a professional photo editor, which can make HDR photo effects. HDR imaging is the process of taking several exposures of the same scene and merging them into one HDR photo. Let’s enjoy a good experience of making HDR photo effects.

Apply HDR Effect on Photos

Part 1: How to Make HDR Effect Photo with WidsMob HDR

Even if you have taken 3 or 5 different images with different exposures with the HDR mode, you still need to use an HDR photo maker to create HDR photos. But taking shots with the HDR mode may also need some preparation. Is it possible to apply HDR photo effects to a single photo directly?

WidsMob HDR is all-in-one HDR software to merge different bracketed images, choose multiple HDR presets, and tweak advanced HDR effects. It provides auto tone mapping, ghost suppression, and alignments. Moreover, you can also use the HDR filters and multiple advanced settings for single photos, including HDR filters, smart tone, image radiance, color filter, vignetting, and HDR de-noise.

1. Provide 10 HDR presets and multiple manual settings to make stunning HDR files.

2. Apply HDR effects for standard HDR with bracketed images and single images.

3. Merge bracketed images with RAW files and JPEGs/JPGs from most cameras.

4. Tweak the HDR effects via different levels and settings to get optimal photos.

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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 and merge photos with different exposures. It enables you to handle JPEG, JPG, TIFF, and most RAW file formats.

Launch WidsMob HDR

Step 2. Once you have imported the desired images, choose the desired merging mode, such as the Bracketing mode and the Single Photo mode. Click the Bracketed mode to stitch a series of images for making the standard HDR or the Single Photo mode to apply the HDR effect directly.

Import Photos for Auto HDR

The Bracketed Mode

It will automatically align the photos into a standard HDR, which provides the original HDR effect with tone mapping, you can choose the desired HDR photo effect via the Effect tab. There are 10 different presets with different HDR styles you can choose and apply.

Choose Preset HDR

The Single Photo Mode

If you have not taken the photos in HDR mode, you can still choose an HDR effect from the Effect tab. But different from HDR images, it cannot present the best contrast and exposure. You have to balance different HDR parameters, such as the brightness, saturation, and contrast.

Apply HDR Preset Single

Step 3. When you need to further edit the HDR effects, you can click the Advanced icon to adjust the different parameters. It provides the HDR filter, smart tone, image radiance, color filter, vignetting, and HDR de-noise. After that, you can click the Save As button to export the HDR photos.

Apply HDR Color Correction Advanced Setting HDR Single Win Download Mac Download

Just get to learn HDR effect editing visually from the video tutorial:

Part 2: How to Create HDR Photo Effects with Photoshop

Photoshop is another frequently used method to create HDR photo effects. It has the HDR Pro feature to combine a series of bracketed images into an HDR image. But it should be a little complicated to apply a fake HDR filter since Photoshop does not have the effects designed for HDR only. Just learn more about the detailed process with the following steps.

Step 1. Launch Photoshop on your computer and load the photo as the original layer. After that, you can click the Open button to import the desired files you want to apply the HDR effect. Just make sure it is in RGB mode. If not, you can check the GRB mode option from Mode in the Image menu.

Turn on RGB Color Photoshop

Step 2. Duplicate the original layer by selecting the Duplicate Layer option from the Layer menu. Name the new layer as the copy layer and put it over the original file layer. After that, you can right-click the copy layer and change the blending option to Overlay to combine the two images.

Overlay Layers Photoshop

Step 3. Turn the image into a black-and-white one by choosing the Desaturate option from Adjustments of the Image menu. It enables you to change the copy layer to another saturation and exposure before combination. It is the method to create an HDR with a single photo.

Desaturate Color Photoshop

Step 4. Go to the Image menu and choose the Adjustments option. After that, you can select the Invert option. It will create a negative image. Generally, the light area will be dark, and the light of the dark part. You can get the fake HDR effect instantly within the interface.

Invert Copy Layer Photoshop

Step 5. Moreover, you can add a Gaussian Blur effect from the Filter menu. Go to Blur and choose the Gaussian option to experiment with the different settings, such as the radius until you find the best result. Just click the OK button when you finish the process.

Gaussian Blur Photoshop

Step 6. Change the desired blend mode from the Layer Style option of the Layer menu, which affects how your layers blend. Adjust the blend of the new layers and move to overlay to create your finished fake HDR photo. After that, you can save the file with the HDR effect.

Adjust Layer Style Photoshop

Now, you can see that the image with more colors to play with has better-looking results. Besides, if you have a series of photos taken by an HDR camera, you can learn how to make HDR photo effects with HDR Pro Photoshop.

Part 3: How to Fake HDR Photo Effects Online for Free

Given the difficulty of making HDR photo effects in Photoshop, you can try an easier way to create an HDR filter online. All you need to do is upload the original photo to the online HDR program. Then the HDR online application can make HDR photo effects for your requirements.

Let’s take Online HDR Software from Fotor as an example to let your know how you can make HDR photo effects online within four steps.

Step 1. Enter on the browser and click Get Started on the webpage to start HDR photo effect editing with this online HDR software.

Open Online HDR Software

Step 2. Upload two or three bracketed photos of the same scene but with different exposures. Then click the Start button to let this online software start making HDR photos for you automatically.

Create HDR Effect Online

Step 3. You can adjust different styles of HDR effects and change the intensity, brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness, etc. You can also modify other editing settings to create HDR images as you like.

Adjust HDR Effect Online

Step 4. After finishing editing, click the Snapshot or Save button on the top to save your work.

But, make HDR effects online has the limitations, such as limited editing options and lower quality of outputs. Some HDR online filters only add brightness and adjust the colors of the original photo. Therefore, the online HDR effects application should be hard to use if you need to create HDR photo effects.

Part 4: What are the Different between HDR filter and HDR effect

What should be the main difference between the HDR filters and the HDR effects? For the bracketed images taken in different exposure, the HDR photo effect includes all the detail of the stuff you took when you use RAW files. But the HDR filter, on the other hand, adds some filters to the original image, which will blur some detail of the original image.


There are multiple methods to apply HDR effects or HDR filters on photos. The most important one should be the effect of the high dynamic range image. You can use different HDR software to make various HDR effects or HDR filters. Here are 3 ways to create HDR effect photos. Creating HDR images with professional yet easy-to-use HDR software on your computer, making HDR pictures with Photoshop, or applying an HDR filter to your photo by an online HDR program. You can find the one most suitable for you as a starter or as a professional.

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