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Create True HDR Photos in Lightroom Using This Simple Plugin

HDRphotographyLightroom

Create True HDR Photos in Lightroom Using This Simple Plugin

While there are amazing tone-mapping software available which specialize in this sort of practice. However, you can create true HDR photos in Lightroom 4 and greater, with the aid of a simple plugin from HDRSoft, without even breaking a sweat. Want the plugin? I’m sure you do – here’s the link to their download page – it’s the one at the bottom. (FYI – It’s $29 to buy a license, but is free to try).

Ultimately the merge to 32-bit plugin by HDRSoft is a pretty neat little process that allows you to select three or more images from your Lightroom catalog and then merge them together to create a 32-bit floating point TIFF file. This file then allows you access to all the great things you love about editing photos in Lightroom, from detailed shadow recovery, to full control over white balance and everything in between.

Because you’re merging multiple photographs together and retaining a full 32-bit image you get much more detail for you to work with inside of Lightroom allowing for a greatly improved overall image. The best part is, because you aren’t truly tone-mapping the photograph, you end up with (at least in my opinion) something that looks more realistic than a photograph that has spent time inside of a true HDR tone-mapping software.

For a full look at the plugin in action – watch the video below – and then let me know what you think in the comments below!

More From Phogropathy

Oh, while you’re here, I did want to mention that I’ve just started a fun new series here on Phogropathy called “Community Edits”. Basically it’s a fun weekly series where I host a photograph from the community for you to download and edit and share that edit with us. It’s been a lot of fun so far to see how each person approaches the same photograph differently and we’d love to have you join the group! Find out all the info here.

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11 Responses to “Create True HDR Photos in Lightroom Using This Simple Plugin”

  1. Is this needed in addition to Photomatix Pro? I went to the URL and it states, “Note: This plugin is not part of the Photomatix family. The plugin for using Photomatix from Lightroom is included in the Photomatix Pro download.” Does this mean that the Photomatrix plugin is sufficient? Or does this mean that this plugin is needed in addition to Photomatrix? Thanks for this clarification.

    Never mind! I watched the video, which clarified it for me.

  2. revdfw said

    Is this needed in addition to Photomatix Pro? I went to the URL and it states, “Note: This plugin is not part of the Photomatix family. The plugin for using Photomatix from Lightroom is included in the Photomatix Pro download.” Does this mean that the Photomatrix plugin is sufficient? Or does this mean that this plugin is needed in addition to Photomatrix? Thanks for this clarification.

    Never mind! I watched the video, which clarified it for me.

    Glad you found the answer Dolores! For others who might have the same question – if you have Photomatix Pro this plugin is included in the download.

  3. I downloaded and installed the demo last night. Today I was bracketing exposures because I had a polarising filter on, so I thought I’d try some simple HDR merges. Unfortunately my first one was corrupted by the plugin and caused LR to behave very badly. So I deleted the offending output file… whereupon my entire folder was deleted!

    Sadly I am not inclined to experiment further with this software. I’m sticking to the Nik package. I really do not need more scares like that!

    Thanks for the demo, though – for the impetus to try HDR and for the LR tips that I picked up regarding the Adjustments brush. All much appreciated.

    I like your image John, very much reminds me of Monet and his water lilies.

  4. Beth Loft said

    I downloaded and installed the demo last night. Today I was bracketing exposures because I had a polarising filter on, so I thought I’d try some simple HDR merges. Unfortunately my first one was corrupted by the plugin and caused LR to behave very badly. So I deleted the offending output file… whereupon my entire folder was deleted!

    Sadly I am not inclined to experiment further with this software. I’m sticking to the Nik package. I really do not need more scares like that!

    Thanks for the demo, though – for the impetus to try HDR and for the LR tips that I picked up regarding the Adjustments brush. All much appreciated.

    I like your image John, very much reminds me of Monet and his water lilies.

    Sorry to hear about the scare Beth! That’s terrible – Nik software will serve you well they have a great reputation for HDR processing. :)

  5. Interesting tutorial John. I have the watermarked version of Merge to 32 Bit HDR. I also have another plug-in called LREnfuse. Just for fun, I did a side-by-side comparison. The two give very different results as seen below. I played with the settings in LREnfuse, but was unable to achieve similar results. Can’t say one is better than the other, just different.
    HDR-Sample-1.jpg

    HDR-Sample-2.jpg

  6. It’s always interesting to see these kinds of comparisons. In the end it all comes down to how each software developer has interpreted the 1s and 0s that are stored in your camera once you depress the shutter button. I too don’t think it’s fair to say one is better than the other in an overall sense, but some people might prefer one over the other as it fits with their style better.

    Just out of curiosity do the two plugins work in a similar manner?

  7. As anyone other than Beth had problems with Merge to HDR? I’d like to try it but now I’m a little uneasy about downloading it. I’m still in the Photomatrix Pro trial and I think I don’t want to buy it right now. I am considering the Merge to HDR as a substitute just to allow playing with HDR, but I don’t need the corruption issues.

  8. I use Both Photomatix Pro (currently 5.3) and the plug in and have never had a problem with either since I first purchased them in early 2013. There are also times when I will use HDR efex pro2 when doing a little editing to my work. I guess it all comes down to your personal choice and what you are trying to produce as an artist. No matter what program you install, or how you process your work. there will always be those who will like or not like the results.

    Personally, I use what will give me the results that I find pleasing and, if others don’t like the results, that’s fine. They are entitled to their opinion. I listen and read what is said, take some on board and reject the balance. But in the final analysis, it is my results, the way that I interpreted the final shot that will “hopefully” bring in the dollars. I hope this helps in some small way

  9. I’m happy to hear that you’ve not had problems with the plugin. I don’t think the issue is what you can create using the plug in. The issue is that one of our community, Beth, experienced some corruption in the download. That’s what I want to avoid. But it seems that she is the only one who has had this problem. so I think I’ll move forward with a download. Thanks for your input, Les.

  10. Dolores let us know if you have any issues with it – I’ve never had problems myself and have used it on a handful of photos so it might have been a fluke thing with Beth’s corruption issue. HDRsoft is a great company and Photomatix has always been highly regarded so I’d be surprised if they had a known issue that they’d still be selling it.

  11. Of course, I don’t know anything about the internal workings of either program. I would say that LREnfuse offers a few more options for combining the photos. There are sliders to let you modify the importance of exposure, saturation, and contrast to get the affect that you want. I must say, that I haven’t really played with it enough to understand the differences with various settings. It can be used for HDR as well as for focus stacking (I haven’t tried this aspect yet.) There are fewer options for processing images in Merge to HDR, so it’s a little easier to learn. Processing time is about the same for the two programs. I think I like the results from Merge to HDR more, but bringing the image back into LR I can give about the same final result. Hopefully, this answers some of your questions.

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