How to Use Lightroom HDR Merge

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a situation where it’s impossible to get the best exposure. You could be photographing a landscape during sunset and end up with silhouettes and blown-out skies.

Thankfully, you can quickly solve this problem by using the HDR technique. We’ll show you how easy it is to apply HDR.

What Is HDR?

HDR is the acronym for High Dynamic Range . It’s a technique that allows you to improve your exposure by equalising the shadows and highlights of any particular image

In situations where the scene is too contrasty, it can be impossible to capture both the shadows and the highlights in one frame.

As an experiment, try photographing your room and include the window.

First, meter for the dark interior of the room. When you take a picture, it’s highly likely you will end up with an overexposed window.

Now, meter for the window, and you’ll find that the interior will look dark.

How Does HDR work?

High Dynamic Range doesn’t start . Instead, it begins inside your camera. If you don’t do the necessary steps with your camera, you can’t create an HDR in your Lightroom at all.

The first part of HDR involves you taking three to nine photos of a scene. It is worth shooting in RAW for the easier post-processing.

Apart from the correct exposure, your camera also needs to capture several pictures that are equally under and overexposed.

Then, you can use Lightroom to combine the files through a process called HDR photo merge . It will use the details in every frame and composite them to create a properly exposed image.

If you use your camera’s built-in HDR mode, you don’t need to process the images in Lightroom. Instead, your device does the HDR photo merge for you.

But this auto function comes with a caveat: You can’t tweak it at all once it combines all the photos. That’s why we recommend doing this process manually.

If you want to create HDR manually, you’ll need to use your camera’s bracketing function . But before you start, you will need to shoot in RAW to ensure you maintain your image quality when editing.

Bracketing is a technique that allows you to shoot several frames that vary in exposures. You can choose between three to nine images depending on how much detail you need to capture. In most cases, three to five pictures are enough.

To use bracketing, all you have to do is press your camera’s bracketing button. Once you activate it, you’ll see 0F on your screen, which means 0 frames.

After you set the frames, all you have to do is press the shutter button. The camera automatically takes the exact amount of photos you specified.

When you review your images, you’ll find that each one you take has a different exposure as you can see below. The difference may be subtle, but the exposure actually increases slightly per frame.

The first image is the regular exposure. As you can see, the buildings are dark and you can barely see the details.