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Create HDR photos in Photoshop CS5

February 15

5 min. to read

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Explore fast and easy ways to create stunning HDR photographs with Photoshop CS 5 built-in tools and extra plugins.

HDR tools give you all necessary power to make realistic photos from a single image or from multiple exposures that are merged together. Where to start? Take one to three photos at different exposure levels. One of them should be underexposed with over 50% of dark areas. Another one should be overexposed with over 50% of highlighted details. And the last one should be a usual photo that we most commonly take.

HDR photos in Photoshop CS5

HDR Merge Pro in Photoshop CS5

A CS5 version of Photoshop supports building up a realistic picture from exposure brackets. The result is currently average, but we hope Adobe developers will improve this drawback in newer versions.

Launch Photoshop. Click on the File drop-down, find Automate and select Merge to HDR Pro. Choose the brackets and click OK.

Are you happy with the result? Try to use this tool for several different scenes and draw your own conclusions. For more advanced HDR images, consider using purpose-built tools like Aurora HDR Pro.

Breath new life into Photoshop with Aurora HDR Pro

Plugins expand the functionality of Photoshop by giving you more and more artistic freedom. Aurora HDR software is a popular plugin that, once installed, is located in the Filter drop-down menu. It is easy, fast and impressive - which makes it a better alternative to other apps like Dynamic-Photo HDR app.

Download and install Aurora HDR Pro. Launch the app and find the Aurora HDR Pro menu in the upper left corner of the window.

Click Install Plugins... - click on Install next to Photoshop - Done.

Install Aurora HDR as Photoshop plugin

Launch Photoshop CS5, open the photo and right-click on it. Find Skylum Software and select Aurora HDR Pro. Click Create HDR and Apply.

Before applying the changes, you can also consider enhancing your image further. One-click presets allow you to easily create fast and stunning results from natural to highly creative and stylized. Manual adjustments like selective color, vibrancy, details, tone and contrast controls, vignettes, glows and much more help you enhance your photo until it is the masterpiece you desire. Foe additional ideas for your art, check the "how to take HDR photos" guide.

Tip of the Day: Adjust Midtones in Photoshop CS5

The shift of the midtones center compresses or expands the tonal range on the left and the right of the center depending on the direction of motion. 

A shift to the left stretches the histogram to the right and compresses it to the left (i.e., brightens the image by compressing shadows and expanding light tones) while the shift to the right has the opposite effect. Thus, the primary use of midtone center is to lighten or darken the midtones in the image.

What are other ways of using midtones shift? Imagine the following scenario: your image must have completely black and completely white details. The histogram makes an entirely black detail, but does not create white. 

If you move the white point to the edge of the histogram, you will make the overall image look too bright and overexposed. Use midtone central point together with the white point to save the proper brightness of the picture and at the same time strengthen light details to white.

Photoshop CS5 Midtones

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