Lightroom 6 HDR Merge Made Easy

Lightroom 6 HDR Merge - Photoreform

Lightroom 6 HDR Merge – Photoreform

Adobe has recently released Lightroom 6 with several great features including HDR merge. Other features include stunning panoramas, faster performance by using existing graphics processor, easily find photos of specific people with the help of face recognition, advanced video slide shows, improved web galleries, better control of filters, share your work, support for more devices, tell your stories, copy-paste enhancements, perfect presentations and get the perfect composition. In this post I will show you how to do HDR merge in Lightroom 6. If you are new to Lightroom you may read my previous posts Install Adobe Lightroom 5 in Windows 8.1 and Getting started with Lightroom 5

What is HDR ?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It contains a series of photos captured in different exposure. One captured underexposed, one overexposed and one with balanced exposure. After that all of these captured photos are combined to get the best out of them. Some cameras do have HDR support which does all the steps for you. So, it is very easy to capture an HDR photo by using such cameras. For example Nikon D7100
.
HDR photo can also be captured by using a camera without built-in HDR functionality. You have to capture the same photo in three different exposures. One underexposed, one overexposed and one in balanced exposure. After that using lightroom 6 you can easily merge them into a HDR photo.

Lightroom 6 HDR Merge

This is what I captured using my Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i)
with Canon EF-S 18-55mm Lens

lightroom 6 hdr merge - photoreform

Lightroom 6 HDR Merge – Photoreform

Merging Steps :

  • Goto Library module or Develope module after importing all of your photos in to Lightroom.
  • Select those photos in sequence that you want to merge into HDR.
  • Click on Photo -> Photo Merge -> HDR or press Ctrl + H. Wait for the preview to appear on the screen.
  • Check on the Auto Align ( Checked by default ) and Auto Tone check boxes. “Auto Align” feature automatically aligns all the photos.
    This feature also crops any uneven edges after aligning the images. “Auto Tone” enhances the resulting image by changing the color tone based on the dynamic range of the combined exposure.
  • Change the Deghost Amount to medium. ( You can check the Deghost overlay by checking the “Show Deghost Overlay” check box. )
  • Click on Merge.

After merging the photo will look like below. You can see vast changes in the horizontal middle area.

Lightroom 6 HDR Merge - Photoreform

Lightroom 6 HDR Merge – Photoreform

Retouching Merged Photo :

After merging Lightroom will create a .dng file which will be automatically added to your catalog. The name of the new dng file ends with -HDR. This will help you to search the HDR files easily.

This dng file is now ready to export or if you want to retouch further you can go for it. I want to add some brush stroke, filter or other settings to make the photo look better, since I had not done the basic retouching on the original files.

  • Under Lens Corrections check Enable Profile Correction and Remove Chromatic Aberration check box. You can check if the correct lens profile is loaded or not in the Profile section. If not, select your lens profile settings in the Lens Profile section.
    Lightroom 6 HDR merge - Photoreform

    Lens Correction

  • While converting the photos into HDR, Lightroom will change the basic settings automatically. You can tweak these settings according to your need.

    Under Basic Panel change Exposure to +1.15 and White to 0.

    Lightroom 6 HDR merge - Photoreform

    Basic Adjustments

Adding Graduated Filter

  • Click on Graduated Filter icon. Change Temp to -54, Exposure to -31, and Shadow to +58. Now using the mouse add the graduated filter by dragging from bottom to middle of the photo.

    Adding Graduated Filter 1 - Photoreform

    Adding Graduated Filter 1

  • Add another Graduated filter with these settings – Exposure -0.75, and Shadow +100. Drag from top middle to the center.

    Lightroom 6 HDR Merge - Adding Graduated Filter - Photoreform

    Adding Graduated Filter

  • Add the last Graduated Filter with the following settings – Temp +60, Tint +54, Exposure -0.13, Contrast +23, and Saturation +12. Drag from top middle to the center.

    Lightroom 6 HDR Merge - Adding Graduated Filter - Photoreform

    Adding Graduated Filter

Final Result

lightroom 6 hdr merge - photoreform

Final HDR Photo – photoreform

Conclusion

HDR in Lightroom is a great feature added to version 6. This will be very beneficial for Lightroom users. Multiple features in same software reduces time and cost of the user. But the merge process takes a long time to complete. I am running Lightroom 6 in Windows 8.1 with Core i3 processor and 4 GB of RAM. The merge process with 3 photos took more than half an hour to complete in my system. Does your system take less time to complete? I would love to hear from you. Do share your experiences with me and let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Buddha Saikia

PhotoReform.com is a blog maintained by Buddha Saikia. He is a photography enthusiast and Android Developer based in Guwahati, Assam. To follow his work or connect, visit the social links.

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About Buddha Saikia

PhotoReform.com is a blog maintained by Buddha Saikia. He is a photography enthusiast and Android Developer based in Guwahati, Assam. To follow his work or connect, visit the social links.
  • amsluis

    Half an hour is quite long to merge 3 images. Doing so with 16MP D7000 raw files, it takes my machine less than 30 seconds. i5 2500k OC 4.3GHz, 8GB ram, SSD.

    My guess is that you’re RAM limited and having to use the scratch disk, making the process IO bound and very slow. Try rebooting and doing it with only LR open.

    • Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. This will be helpful to other readers also. May be because of low disk space in C drive in my system it took that much time or may be because of low hardware configuration. I have reinstalled Windows 8.1. I will definitely check if it takes less time with only Lightroom open.