HDR dynamic range in Lightroom

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Lightroom HDR has completely changed my approach to certain types of images, but it would be very helpful if the dynamic range could be improved. As is, it is still hard to bring in windows from interiors to levels some clients want, frequently appearing washed out even with highlights and whites completely dragged down with multiple adjustment brushes overlayed.
I know this is no easy task, but it could absolutely change things. As is, I find myself constantly needing to mask out windows still.
Thanks
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Stephen Newport

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Posted 11 months ago

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Jerry Syder

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I agree that it could be improved and in extreme cases, do also jump into PS to recover those windows(with one of the underexposed files) 
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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The dynamic range is determined by the bracketed images, not so much by Lightroom. If you still have difficulties with highlights, then I suggest you add one or two more underexposed brackets.
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Stephen Newport

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John,

This is not the case. The brackets cover above and beyond the dynamic range of the scene in every case, but yes, you are correct when applicable.
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Dave Pearce

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This sounds more like an operator issue than LR issue. If the data isnt in the file to begin with then LR cant do the impossible.
It sounds like adjustments need to be made at the camera end first.
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Stephen Newport

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Negative, brackets cover beyond the dynamic range needed in  every case. It's an issue of tonal compression throughout different value ranges. You can see it for yourself if you have a high-dynamic range interior, setting the proper exposure for the interior doesn't give you enough latitude in the "highlight" slider to bring in the windows. However, if you bring the exposure down the windows look gorgeous, but the blacks/shadows don't give you enough leeway to make the interior a proper exposure.
(Edited)
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Rick Spaulding, Champion

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Adding an additional under exposed image to the HDR is a good idea. These images are also a perfect opportunity to use the new Adjustment brush Range Mask feature!
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Stephen Newport

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Rick,
The range of brackets is not the issue in this case, although you are correct. The shots I am working on cover beyond the dynamic range needed to achieve the results (otherwise I wouldn't have the plates needed to mask in the windows).
And yes, the range mask on the adjustment brushes are much appreciated and do help in these scenarios, but in HDR cases, the "range" would have to be a floating point measuring the luminosity of the underlying data to get proper contrast in the extremes... at least that's my initial thought... if that makes sense.
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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If Brush Adjustments (i.e. -Exposure, -Highlights) can't recover the highlights then they are clipped and unrecoverable. You need to use lower exposure bracketed image files. You also should set your camera to output raw image files and not JPEGs, which have less dynamic range.  RawDigger is a good tool for checking highlight data clipping in your bracketed raw files, which is impossible to do inside LR since it applies a camera profile.

https://www.rawdigger.com/download

You can also use the new Local adjustments 'Range Mask' available in LR Classic for additional highlight recovery. Here's an example using a Graduated Filter dragged off of the canvas so it is applied to the whole image.





(Edited)
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Stephen Newport

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Todd,
Indeed on all points. Clipping is not an issue in these cases though, it's a matter of rendering data when sliders are pulled as far as they go. The data is there, but the method of bringing down the tonal range seems to be limiting and not taking into account the floating point nature of the HDR DNG's. But I could also have a misunderstanding of how this works.
The range mask, as I mentioned in a former reply, definitely helps this, but it seems like it is masking the range of the currently rendered image, and not the value-range underneath... which I *think* would help with issues of contrast and color rendering, but that's past my purview. 
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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IMHO daylight lit interior windows should look a little brighter. Pushing further usually causes the image to take on an unnatural, over-the-top HDR effect. You can see this starting to happen in the HDR screenshot I posted using the Luminance Range Mask with extreme Local Adjustments (-100 Highlights, -1.0 Exposure). We'll need a screenshot of an HDR image with your best effort settings and perhaps the HDR bracket file set to examine further for more suggestions. I also suggest posting a screenshot of a similar HDR image where you applied local adjustments to the windows to achieve the "customer's desired appearance." As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words!"
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Nels Norquist

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I am gong to bring this topic back...Lots of people are complaining about this on many forums. I am new to HDR..but not new to photography. I shoot real estate and some customers want something a bit over the top with blue skies showing through the window. I am giving LR plenty of under exposed data to work with in the windows and it always shows up brighter than I would like.

The other BIG thing pointed out on another forum is that for interior RE photography many times LR HDR image is hardly any better than a slightly under exposed image with the highlight slider pulled all the way over and the shadow slider way up.  I use auto align and auto tone and every single time LR is done creating the HDR image the highlight slider is all the way to the left. I cannot recover any more highlights or control those highlights. Someone said the windows should be brighter to not look like a freaky HDR. LR is a tool, it should not decide what is enough highlight recovery for me (kind of why I don't like Apple.."No, you don't need a headphone jack anymore on your Iphone, we can sell you an expensive adapter for that"..but that is another topic). If want to create Frankenstein looking HDR images I would think LR would at least give me the option. I may have to just use PS and start using layer masks. I know I can get the look my customer wants that way, but it is a pain and very time consuming. One last thing, merge HDR is pretty slow.. I have recently upgraded to the 5d Mk 4 and I am using a new UHD monitor, so they are big RAW files and lots of pixels to draw, but it takes almost 30 seconds to load the preview window. I have an 5820 I7 processor , GTX 970 4gb card and just upgraded to 32GB of DDR 2400 ram. It is still very slow.
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Nels Norquist

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I found turning off Deghosting speeds up the preview window quite a bit. When I start to merge another HDR while one is processing many times my screen goes black for 1 or 2 seconds and when it comes back I see on the top bar LR Not Responding.. It always comes back after a couple seconds, but seems like a problem. When I look at my task manager I don't see the processor going above 20-30% and usually not over 8-10gb of Ram in use. I wish I could dedicate more CPU or RAM to be used by LR. Is there a way to queue up several HDR merges and process them all at once?
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