9 Steps to creating an HDR image

corsair-airplane-fighter-world war II-pacific-navy-marines

corsair-airplane-fighter-world war II-pacific-navy-marinesOften people say: Wow!! You can really take something ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. That the power of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. And really it is quite simple. Well… HDR photography is simple after countless hours of practice, practice, practice.

Here is my winning recipe.

1. Begin with a well composed image. Think the power of 9.

2. Keep the subject simple and make it the focal point of the photograph without frivolous distractions.

3. Shoot for your best exposure(s) when capturing for HDR… or anything for that matter. In the case of this image I only shot one. My rule is if people or things are moving I use only one capture. If things are still I shoot 3 to 5 bracketed shots.

4. Load into LightRoom 5 or LightRoom 6.

5. Whether shooting 1, 3, or 5 brackets I always edit my first image in LightRoom5 whether. Regarding this image I edited the exposure, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks primarily. In most occasions I will tweak the contrast, clarity, and vibrance ever so slightly. My goal is to get that first image picture perfect.

6. Then I duplicated into three images. And shifted the exposure to be as follows (2.1, .60, and -.90). This gave me a 1.5 exposure deviation in each direction.

7. I merged into HDR through my Photomatix Pro software and applied my Airplane2 preset. Then re-imported to LightRoom 5 for final adjustments.

8. As a final adjustment in LightRoom 5 I am looking for Chromatic Abrasions. These are bright purple or green lines around parts to the subject between light and dark areas that tend to ruin an image. They are just anomalies created by a digital camera. To finish off this image I added a Vignette of -.25. This image really pops with the Vignette applied.

9. Next, this image went into Topaz DeNoise where I applied the Strong filter just as it is set by the manufacture. Topaz De-Noise reduces noise in your photograph. Then, back into LightRoom and exported as a final full resolution image to my storage folder.

I really hope you enjoy my HDR photography and final HDR processing work. I shoot for a more natural look and feel in most cases. However, not in the case this military Corsair HDR photograph. I was seeking more drama.

You can also check out these additional blog posts related to other HDR airplane photos.

P47 Thunderbolt

The Air Show Enthusiast

Japanese Zero in HDR

Thanks and I wish your family and friends an outstanding and stunning year of love, laughter, and limitlessness.


P.S. Trey Ratcliff reveals 100% new stuff! In the first hour, you’ll know all the basics, and beyond that, you’ll learn an amazing collection of new tricks, workflow, and post-processing techniques that will give your photos a great and unique look. Excellent for any skill level, from beginner to advanced.