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Black and White HDR Photos How-to Make Them

January 31

5 min. to read

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HDR is not a tool only for colors. It is incredibly useful for the monochrome photography!

Many people feel that HDR photography and Black & White are mutually in… separate entities that should never cross paths. Well I would argue that HDR can be incredibly useful to the monochrome photographer! Especially since you can take an image that has had it’s details pushed beyond the normal range of belief in color...but then convert to  B&W editor to create a stunningly detailed piece of fine art! Just do a quick search on Google for Black & White HDR and you’ll see there’s no end to amazing examples.

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Give Aurora HDR 2017 a try.

HDR can bring out microtextures in your image, making the details of the light & Shadows that much more enhanced and thus, altering the tone of your image! While using these techniques may be over the top and brash to the eyes when viewed in’s a beautiful flare in black & white images.Give Aurora HDR 2017 a try.(2)

There's no right way...

There’s no “right” way to apply HDR to a black & white image, it’s all about experimentation and finding a workflow that works for you. For me, I like to see how much detail and contrast i can bring to an image before making my initial conversion to B&W. Once i do my initial conversion, then i start to explore  additional edits in B&W!

I recommend shooting and editing in RAW whenever you can, this will give you so much more data and light/shadow recovery to work with. It’ll be a little more work on your computer, but worth it in the end!

Merge your brackets (3-14 steps) to get the HDR base point you need. From here, start editing your image as if you were processing in color and make it look as incredible as you like. For me, I'll edit my Tone mapping on layer 1, then use a Luminosity mask to really push my HDR edits safely. The next layer will be a DENOISE layer to smooth out my details. Then I’ll add another layer to re-punch up some details and colors to make it incredibly vibrant. Once you have an image that’s tone-mapped as you like (layers included) save your file! This is where it gets fun.There\'s no right way...There\'s no right way...(2)

Create a new layer, and go to the COLOR tool on your side bar, select the SATURATION slider and pull it ALL the way down to -100! now we’ve got an incredible pure black & white starting point. That’s all you need to do to that layer…label it accordingly, and then create another new layer! This is where things get real. 

Any edits you now do, will be applied to your B&W layer safely so the world is your oyster. Ideally you should have a pretty incredible image in B&W already...but it never hurts to keep playing. Whenever i create a B&W image, i like to really push my shadows and contrast to give a real sense of depth to the shot.There\'s no right way...(3)

As you can see from these samples and their Color counterparts…HDR isn’t just for color...if you’re a monochrome photographer like myself, HDR is an incredible weapon in your arsenal for creating breathtaking images.

Go ahead, and try monochrome HDR on your photos. If you don't have  Aurora HDR yet, visit the home page to download the free trial. Enjoy.There\'s no right way...(4)

There\'s no right way...(5)

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Team Skylum


Our team of passionate photography enthusiasts at Skylum has been committed to assisting you in discovering the world through your lens for over a decade. We're dedicated to providing photographers like you with easy-to-use tools and valuable resources to help you capture your vision and produce beautiful photos. Our articles are filled with friendly tips, industry insights, and inspiring stories from other creative individuals in photography. Together, we can help you grow your photography skills to new heights. Join us on this exciting journey of exploration, creativity, and growth.

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