HDR Tutorial, Photography, Lightroom

HDR – Intermediate Part II

 Step 3. – Lightroom Touchups

Continuing from the first part of the intermediate HDR tutorial, we left off with your tonemapped and saved 16-bit .tif file.

Here is the photograph I slapped together for the example (not the greatest I know):

HDR Tutorial, Photography, Lightroom


Now that we have the image we will import it into Lightroom and select the “Develop” Tab:

HDR Tutorial, Photography, LightroomWhen the image is fist imported into Lightroom the settings for all the options will be 0 by default.  In the photography above I have already made some adjustments to fix the highlights and a few other things which I will now explain.

  • Tint and Temperature: I was pleased with the white balance so I made no adjustments to modify the atmosphere of the photograph.
  • Exposure and Contrast:  I have boosted exposure slightly because adding a medium curve and increasing the contrast darkened the photo a bit too much in some areas.
  • Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks: You have already learned what these do from the first part of the tutorial which focused on the same sliders in Photomatix Pro.  I lowered the highlights because the clouds were too blown up and raised the shadows a bit to increase contrast for the tires.  The adjustments for the whites and blacks were made with a similar thought process in mind.
  • Clarity: This was boosted slightly to increase the overall detail of the tires and the dirty which should, in my opinion, pop out a little more.
  • Vibrance and Saturation:  These were left basically at the default value of 0.  The photo is already quite vibrant in terms of color and boosting it even more would make it look a bit too fake. I personally LOVE super rich and bright colors though so if you want to push your images up a notch they’d still rock.
  • Medium Contrast Curve: Just to boost the contrast a little.

The next step included sharpening and noise removal.  See below:

HDR Tutorial, Photography, Lightroom

  •  Sharpening:  The detail in the photograph was relatively sharp to begin with.  I didn’t want to sharpen the whole image as that would make it a bit too crisp. Super Tip: By pressing the ALT key you can drag the masking slider to the right which will only mask the outer most edges (which are shown by the black and white overlay) of the objects in the photograph and not everything.  You can use the ALT key for many of the other sliders in Lightroom (whites, blacks etc.) to fine-tune your changes instead of wholesale application.
  • Noise Reduction: HDR photographs inherently add a great deal of noise.  I boosted the noise reduction to 66 and the color to 100.  This would normally have the effect of smoothing over the photograph quite a bit.  However, using clarity and the sharpening method from above you can return some of those details for an overall pleasing effect.
  • Lens Correction: I always check the lens correction option to correct the curvature of the lenses I am using. 

Some final touches are included below:

HDR Tutorial, Photography, LightroomOnce most of the standard changes were made, I selected the brush tool from the top of the option menu.  This brings up the menu you see in the photograph above.  I noticed some of the features on the excavator were a bit too dark (cockpit and vents are still too dark but its fine since this photo is just for learning purposes) compared to the rest of the photograph.  so I selected the “Dodge (Lighten)” tool and clicked on the areas I wanted to brighten up a bit and increased the exposure to 1.43. The areas circled in green are exposed more than necessary so you can notice the differences between the photos above.  Tip: Change the size of the brush using the “[]” keys to make it bigger or smaller.  Also, it is advisable to create a new “marker” each time you wish to brighten a different area.  The reason for this is you may not want each marker to be brightened by the same amount. Simply click on “New” button immediately under the brush and then place the new marker where you need in the photo.  Tip: Don’t stop at dodge.  There are many more tools available that I cannot possibly cover in just this section of the tutorial alone.  Use them all and enhance your knowledge, skill and creativity.


The advanced tutorial should be coming soon.


Thank you for reading!




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