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From Capture Through Edit Using Lightroom

Lesson 16 of 27

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Jared Platt

From Capture Through Edit Using Lightroom

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

16. HDR (High Dynamic Range)
This lesson will teach you how to shoot and edit RAW HDR images to get the very best exposure in very challenging conditions.

Lesson Info

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

you'll recall that when I was in Hall Stott and I was taking photos of the lake in the town. As I was selecting the images, I saw a beautiful scene. I wanted to take it, but I wasn't quite sure if I could get all of the information in one photo. And so this is the photo that I was worried about. I was worried that I wasn't gonna get quite enough information up there in the clouds. And if I turn on the exposure highlight warnings, you can see that I'm blowing out some of those clouds Now. The the camera actually shows, ah lot mawr blinking highlight warnings than the actual raw image because the camera is looking at the J peg that it is showing to you on the back of the screen. That's what it's looking at when it's creating the history Graham and when it's giving you warnings. And the JPEG is a very condensed and compressed version of what the raw actually has. So JPEG has a very small number of tones to demonstrate, or thio describe black all the way through white, and so it's it's a v...

ery it's very compressed and so if there's a problem, it's more pronounced. It's more exaggerated, whereas on a raw image there's a lot more latitude, and therefore there's a lot more leeway on the way to the problem. Eso when you see blinking highlights in the sky on your J peg on the back of your screen and your camera can't always trust that that means you have a problem. Often times you can kind of push that a little bit because the warning is kind of a pre warning. And so if that's the case, then you need to get to know your camera. And that's why we went through the kind of our bonus discussion on exposure and getting a perfect exposure and the camera, because it's really important to do that. Teoh. Know what your camera can actually give you, Even though it's warning you, you should know how far you can push it. In this case, I knew I could push it a little bit, but I wasn't absolutely certain. So the best thing to do is to take a normal photo and then also taken HDR version just in case. And since there's no moving, uh, items in the photo. Aiken simply taken HDR as well. I just needed to kind of lock the camera down. So I set him on a on a stone wall and kind of held it nice and still and then took the photo. So in this case, I'm going to show you how to create an HDR inside of light room. And it's ah, it's a fantastic tool. It's very easy to do, and once you've done it, then you can use the resultant HDR image, which is very different than an HDR plug in HDR plug ins. Pretty much every HDR plug in I've seen out there is pretty over the top when it comes to the way it presents stuff. I'm not a big fan of them. I from the beginning, HDR always drove me crazy. But Adobe has figured out how to do HDR right. It's very natural. Looking at it is, it's a fantastic way to take very contrast ing situation and give yourself a little bit more leeway, actually, a lot more leeway because the resultant file is a raw DMG 32 bit file, and it's got all the information all the way from deep, deep blacks Thio Super bright whites. So let me show you how that's done. The first thing that you have to do is choose the three images or five or seven images however many you've chosen and you can see in this one. I have one that is, uh, under exposed one that is normal, one that's under exposed and one that's over exposed. And so I'm going to right click thes, and I'm going to go to photo merge. The photo Merge Tool has an HDR merge. I'm gonna click on HDR merge, and it's going to open up a dialogue box that gives me a couple choices. So up at the top, you can see that it's doing automatic alignment, and it's also applying an auto setting. Now, if there's anything moving in the shot, you conduce a de ghosting. And so the de ghosting allows you to like if there was a swan moving across the lake, it would then it does a really amazing job. But choosing one of the photos with the swan in it keeps the swan on the one photo and then erases the swan from the other photos. So it does a great job it kind of patching together reality. I've even seen a situation where I had my son and a friend of his running across the field, and it did the HDR and then chose one of the three shots where my son and the friend were and then erased them on the other shots. And so I only have one shot of my son and his friend. So it's pretty impressive what it could dio eso. In this case, we don't need de ghosting because there's not. There's not a lot of moving anything. I mean, the waves, I guess we're moving. But I don't need a D ghost anything, so I'm going to turn that off. But otherwise I like what it's doing generally. So I'm gonna hit merge, and it's going to create this file. Let me double click that file and show you the difference. So let's let's go back to this hall Stott, Um, album. And in the Hall Stop album you will find Let's go back to the grid. Let's go find that HDR image, which is right here, and you can actually see it, says HDR four and then DMG. So it's a DMG file and it's got four images in the HDR, but it's stacked. Hm. So it made the HDR, and then it stacked the result in HDR on top of the other ones. And so whenever you see an image that has four or three or 10 or whatever on it, that means that they're stacked. And when you click on them, the stack opens up down here below where the filmstrip would be. And you can see that this one is the HDR. This one is the normal. This is the under, and this one is the over. But we're just going to be dealing with this one from now on because it's the Onley one that matters. All the other ones could just sit there underneath. And furthermore, once you've chosen one that's gonna be your HDR and you're happy with it. Then you might as well take the rest of these images that are, um, no longer going to be used and simply right. Click them and then stack them. So now you've you've kind of collapsed all the other ones into a stack, so they're no longer taking up a lot of visual space, So I prefer to stack stuff that I'm not gonna use. So I'm not I'm not searching through it. I just know this stack is a whole bunch of HDR stuff, but this is the HDR that I'm going to be using. So let's double click that and we're now in the edit panel and we're going to do some editing on it. And I want you to see how powerful the HDR is in comparison to just a regular shot. So let's go back and open up just a normal shot here. You can see that normal shot if I were to take the highlight and bring it down. Yeah, I can get it. But I want you to look right here at the cloud. And by the way, I just did something interesting that you might want to know about. Um, if you are zoomed out and you want to zoom in on a particular area in the image, if you just hold down the command or I think on the PC, it's probably, uh I'm not sure what. Anyway, on the Mac, it's command, and I don't know what the key stroke for the PC is, but if you just hold down the command key. Your zoom feature will turn into like a little box, and then you could just draw a box around what you want to zoom in on, and it's gonna zoom directly to that and you can see that that cloud is just a little bit flat. There's not as much information as I would like to have in that cloud, so it's flat like there. No matter how much I go down, I can't get that cloud. It's just a flat piece of information. So that tells you that no matter what I do to this image, I cannot get that. There's not enough image in the normal image to be able to do that. Now there's plenty of information in the cloud in the dark image. And so if I was to try and bring up this, I can certainly get those things back. But now let's go in here and look at these and there's a lot of color noise. You can see there's color noise inside of this area here because I've had to really brighten it up. And so you're gonna start to see ah, lot of color noise in the image itself. You could see it on this. See the magenta and the green in there. That's just color noise coming out. So we don't We don't want to brighten stuff up three entire stops because we wanted the clouds in. So the best way to deal with that was then to go back and do an HDR. So that's why I did an HDR. And I think it was a good idea to do the HDR. So let's double click this and let's work on the HDR. Because now, if I go to these in these clouds here, and I bring down the the look at that, even if I zoom in there and darken it down, you can see there's total information in those clouds. That's because I have all the data. So what we're gonna do then, is we're gonna just bring it down just a little bit until we get the full information in those clouds. Once we've got those that information the clouds, I Kenbrell up the shadows here because remember, I've got a really bright version and all of these air coming from the bright version. So then when I zoom in on on these areas here. They're really clean and nice. And the magenta and green is not on that on up on this, uh, on this roof anymore. So there's less. There's there's less of that color noise going on, and so you're gonna have a much cleaner file. So now I'm just gonna work this file to my heart's content. I really like this shot. So I wanna I want to do a great job with it. I'm gonna go up instead of camera standard being my profile, I'm actually gonna kind of play around with Maybe a landscape landscape is way over the top. So let's not do landscape. But maybe let's see if we can do mhm. Portrait looks pretty good, but it's a little over the top is Well, I'm just gonna dio faithful. So that's gonna be our actually, Let's go to Adobe Rock because Adobe Raw is generally better, I think, than the camera matching ones. I'm gonna go thio Vivid, vivid looks pretty good. So let's stick with vivid. So now I have that underlying profile and now I can really play with this file because I've got all of that information. So I like what I'm seeing here, let me turn off the shadow and highlight warnings because I don't think we need those anymore. I like what we've got going on here. I like the colors that were going on and like how bright it is, I need to burn and dodge the the area right over here and get that green under control. But I definitely need to work on that sky. So I'm gonna go, um, into my Grady int tool first. And I'm just gonna bring the exposure down. I'm just gonna go kind of like this across that and let me turn on the overlay so we can see what's going on. I'm just gonna pull this back a little bit. Not gonna burn it so deeply. I'm also gonna take the saturation down just a little bit so that greens not quite so green. And the beauty is that I've got this Grady in. But I can also add a brush to it so I can add a brush to the Grady in. So I'm taking the same settings that are here, and I'm just painting in right here. There we go. So now that greens not quite so bad, just adding a little pink brush to some of these areas here, so they're not just quite so garish. There we go. I like that. Now I'm going to solve that sky now with the sky. I'm just going to create a new Grady int. And so we're going to come up to the top of the sky here, and we're going to drag down like that and then we're going to play with the sky, darken it down just a little bit. We'll make it a little bit more blue, not to blue. But we're just We're just trying to burn in some of that mountain and some of that sky. And I like what I'm seeing there. That's pretty good. A little too much burn. And then I'm going to take maybe the blacks down a little bit, shadows down a little bit. Eso I'm just playing with the image until I like what I'm seeing generally. But remember, I've got areas that this Grady is touching that I'm not too happy with because I don't want that that ridge line there to be too dark. So now I'm going to go into the Grady Int Tool up here. And instead of adding a brush, I'm going to go in and erase from the Grady int and I'm gonna turn on my auto mask and I'm going to use a flow of, let's say, about 80%. Let's do 100% right up at the top. So I'm going to come in here and I'm going to remove that from this hilltop. Here we go Now that's not hitting the hilltop. It's on Lee hitting the sky, and it's getting those mountains back there. Now I'm going to go into the brush tool and add to it because I've got the setting that I really like. It's working, but I need to start adding it here to the mountain itself. So now I'm just going to start painting it where it seems to be needed. Just painting around. Remember, I've still got that auto mask on, so it's actually kind of just doing stuff to the trees, mostly because that's where I'm starting the burn. So I start burning at the trees. So it's just looking for Green, basically, and fortunately for me, because it's looking for Green. When I come next to that church, it's really not doing much to the church itself because it's sticking to the green and not to the plus. I like the fact that the the rocks are separated out, so they're not green, so they're not getting darkened, but the rocks are staying fairly white. So I like that. I'm gonna do a little bit of that work down here. Oh, that's I'm gonna undo that because I don't want to darken that too much. I like what I'm getting here. So now we can turn this off, and I really like that. That's pretty nice. I'm gonna do another brush, though. And this time instead of ah Grady int with a brush, I'm just doing a brush. And all I want to do is I want to brighten up certain areas of the image. Like, for instance, I want to brighten the church a little bit. So I'm just gonna go in and bill some brightness, you know, just in little areas here, like the front of this building. Maybe right here on some of these beautiful wood fronts of these buildings. Maybe right up here on this roof, I like that church a bit, so I'm just I'm not being super accurate about it either. I'm just kind of feeling my way through the shot, and then I want to give a little bit of extra love to this reflection. So I'm gonna do that in its own. So I'm gonna create a new brush, and I'm the same same settings. I'm just created a new brush so that it's on its own. And then I'm just kind of kind of spy. Just add a little bit of brightness here to this reflection. Now, right now, it's too much. But that's okay, because what I want to dio so I wanna finesse it. So I'm just adding some reflection where I think it would probably be worthwhile. And then I could take my exposure back down and just kind of bring it up, actually study using the exposure. I'm going to use highlights. There we go. That's what we want. So we just want those highlights to come up just a little bit and we're gonna warm them up just a little bit. There we go, like the way that's looking. All right. So you can see that with a little bit of help from an HDR weaken. Go a lot further with the photography and the key to a good HDR is to make sure that number one you have your camera very well locked down. Eso If I don't have a tripod with me, I just make sure that I either set it down on something firm and then I kind of push it down and hold it there. Or if I if I can really stabilize it, then I'll put it on a two second timer and push the button and then then step back and let it do its thing. So every camera nowadays has an auto HDR feature and they work wonders. Just turn it on auto HDR and let it do its thing and it will give you three shots and then it will merge them into a J. Peg. You don't wanna mess with the J peg in post production, but you do want those three extra shots. So if your camera has a way of of creating the JPEG without the three hdr bracketed shots, tell it. Tell it to keep the three HDR bracketed shots, the raw images because those were going to be what is going to be giving you the best results here inside of light room. I'm a big fan of HDR because it's so easy to actually do it. I take HDRs all the time when I'm doing even wedding photography because of the auto HDR feature. Have it on my short menu on my camera and then I just quickly turn into the HDR mode, shoot whatever image I need when there's way too much latitude going on and then I go right back to my normal shooting. When I get back toe light room, I just simply go and find those HDR images. Highlight um right click um merged HDR and then I move on on deny come back when I'm editing the images. So I actually do merge them to HDR. At the moment I'm searching through my images. If I see an HDR, highlight it, merge it to HDR and then be done with it that way Later on, when you come back, you're just dealing with the HDR along with all of your other images. So when you come up to the hdr, you just adjust it the same way you would all of the other images that's the best way to deal with it so that you're not looking at thes over under normal, over under normal over under normal. Just stack all your hdrs together. So just right. Click the stack of images and merge the HDRs. In fact, you can actually create multiple stacks of HDR images and then simply go in and highlight. Just click on one and then command click the other ones. So I've got four stacks here selected, ready to merge to HDR and I simply right click any of them, Andi. And then I just go to photo emerge and then hdr merge and it's gonna merge all of those hdr stacks individually to HDR so I could do ah whole Siri's. If all I did was hdrs for an entire shoot, I could then come back, stack all those images into stacks and then simply merge them all at one time to hdr, then come back and work on those hdrs. It's a fantastic way to work. Here's another example of a good reason for HDR that wasn't actually shot with a tripod or with a steady rock to put my camera on. It's a vertical shot that I took just standing, So I just kind of braced myself and got a still is. I could. And then I just turned it on HDR mode and I squeeze the trigger and held us still is possible and let it do its work. And I came up with three shots and you could see that this is the normal. This is the under, and this is the over, and there's absolutely no way I could get what's in the window here. I couldn't get that stained glass and get the shadows here, um, and and get the beautiful artwork on the wall. I couldn't get all of that in one shot. There's just no way that the the dynamic range in this room is far, far too great. So when I come here to the grid and I right click and I go down to photo merge and click HDR merge, it's going to generate the file and it's going toe auto. Align it even though I'm moving slightly and this is what I'm going to come up with. Merge those files and the HDR is going to allow me to have the best of all of the tones inside image And so if you look at this, it's just a fantastic way toe work on an image. Well, let's let's change the color balance really quickly so that we have good color balance in that room. And that is a magnificent file. The fact that I have all of that information and I can I can bring down those those windows so that the highlights or not Look at that. I've got everything in that window and then I can bring up the shadows in the room and I've got everything that I need. I still want that deep, dark shadow. But look how natural that looks. It still looks very natural. And if you feel like it's not natural enough, then the one thing that most people do with HDR what and they do it wrong is they don't allow enough contrast. You still want the contrast. I still want this room toe look like it's a dark room. So I'm gonna take the black point and bring it down a bit, and I'm gonna take the shadows and bring them down a little bit. I want there to be, uh, contrast in this room, but then, if I want people to see certain little shadows. I'll come in with the brush because I have all the data in that area. I'll come in with the brush and I'll just brighten up that area that I want people to see. I'll just come in and brighten it up a little bit. Just that little area. So there's a hint of information and they can see the flower. But I'm still allowing there to be a nice deep shadow in there. Same thing over here. I want them to see the edge of this. Uh, there we go. I just brighten that up a little bit. I'm gonna come in and just play with this curtain here a little. I'm gonna kind of highlight some of the artwork up here, and then I might even click a new brush and bring down and take shadows down a little bit. Burned some of these areas up here so that I keep some of the drama, but I don't need all that information over there, so I'm helping to put a little extra drama back into the shot as well. And by doing that, I've created this beautiful dramatic shot. But I have all the details, so I can do whatever I want with it. So use HDR When you're in a situation like this, you just have to be steady. So make sure that you turn on all your stabilizers and that you, you know, sit nice and low and and hold your camera really steady and make sure you control your breathing. And if you can lean up against a pole or lean up against something, a railing or something to kind of steady your body, sometimes I'll actually take my camera like this, and I'll put it against the poll like this and I'll let the poll become the tripod and I'll push my camera against that pole. And if I'm doing vertical, I'll do it this way and I'll push my camera against that pole, and that helps toe steady it. But I can still turn it and get the right vantage point. And then as soon as I'm ready, I just push it against the pole and take the shot. And because I'm doing in a auto HDR, it just automatically takes the three shots. 123 right. So I just squeeze once and hey, hold it down. I don't go like this. I go like this and wait for it to finish and then let go. And if you do that, you could do a pretty good job at steadying yourself and getting a really good HDR, even though you don't have a tripod. So use that HDR mode on your camera to your advantage and then come in tow light room and really play with that file. But remember, allow a lot of contrast because still, even though you're doing an HDR, don't try to remove all the contrast, because then it starts to look like a painting and it doesn't look like a photograph. So you still want to have the drama in the shot. But just use all the data to your advantage and kind of burn and dodge until you get it to where it looks perfect.

Class Description


  • Read your histogram and light meter to get the perfect exposure in the camera.
  • Make Panoramic and HDR images that look natural
  • Take your images from good to great in Lightroom.
  • Organize and find your images quickly anywhere, anytime.
  • Share your images with the world and even make a website to share your photography.
  • Retouch and enhance your images with targeted adjustments, sky replacements, removing and replacing distractions and much more.


No matter what camera you use or what you photograph, your images will always pass through the post-production process before you share them with the world. Taking a photograph at the camera is only the first step in the process of photography. It takes a great image capture and great editing to make a great photograph but it also takes great organization to keep track of it so you can share the beauty you have created. Jared Platt is here to teach you how to create high-quality images and edit your images in Adobe Lightroom to make them even better.

In this class, you will learn how to get better captures with the camera and learn how to use Adobe Lightroom to edit and organize your images. You will learn how to organize, adjust, retouch, and share your images from your computer or your mobile device. You will learn how to add and retrieve your images from anywhere, create whenever inspiration strikes, and share your creations anytime you like. You will be amazed at what you can do to your images in seconds. You will even learn how to create panoramic and HDR images for those complicated landscape shots and how to replace a sky to make your images more dramatic. Jared will take you through each and every step of the process of capture and post-production in Lightroom.

When you are finished with this course, you will have the knowledge that will set you free from your desk.

Lightroom is Adobe’s answer to simple and powerful image editing and organization. Lightroom is always connected to the Adobe Creative Cloud so that your images are available on your desktop and laptop computers, your smartphone, iPad, and even on any internet browser. It is a cloud-based service that gives you everything you need to create, edit, organize, store, and share your photos across any device. Lightroom is much more approachable and simple than Adobe’s Lightroom Classic (the professional level industry workhorse). Whether you are new to Lightroom or are using Lightroom Classic, this call is indispensable in your photographic education.


  • Photo enthusiasts.
  • Photographers who want to enhance and perfect their images.
  • Landscape and travel photographers.
  • Photo artists.
  • Anyone who wants to organize and edit their photos.
  • Bloggers and influencers who post photographs.


Lightroom 2021
Lightroom Mobile
Lightroom Web
Photoshop 2021
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Portfolio

Class Materials

1. Lightroom Presets and Profiles


JP Color Pro

2. RAW Images To Follow Along With





3. Lightroom Creative Cloud Schematic

Lightroom Creative Cloud

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Teresa Piccioni

Great great great class: Jarett explains the Lightroom workflow clearly and thoroughly. I am not a native English person and my English is quite poor but Jarett explains in a very simply and clearly way everything and I understand all chapters perfectly. Thanks guys, great job. I highly recommend this lesson to everybody,


I have watched each and everyone of Jared's classes on Creative Live and they are first class. I've waited a long time for a new one and now we have it and it's another gem. This is a wonderful overview of Lightroom and will repay watching sections (or all of it) several times to absorb the wealth of information presented. For anyone new to Lightroom, this is just what the doctor ordered.


Really in depth, so helpful! Thanks