Lightroom: Photo Merge to HDR doesn't appear to do much

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  • Updated 2 years ago
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I have an example of three bracketed exposures, 0, +3EV and +6 EV, for the purpose of merging to HDR in Lightroom. With no auto tone adjustment selected, the resulting dng image looks pretty much identical to the middle exposure at +3EV. This is not what I expect a merged HDR image to look like.

Here are the images in survey view, the top left is 0EV, top right +3EV, bottom left +6EV and bottom right the merged dng HDR image. The two images on the right look the same to me.



I'd appreciate it if someone could enlighten me as to what HDR merge in LR really does other than create a new dng file with an expanded exposure adjustment range. It's certainly not merging reasonably well exposed parts of the images, which is what I had assumed HDR merging would do.
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Anthony Blackett

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Posted 2 years ago

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Shane Betts

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This is the way it works. The DNG file can be graded like any other RAW file and you'll find it responds much better in terms of highlight detail and shadow noise than any of those 3 individual shots.  Start playing with highlight, shadow, white and black sliders, as well as exposure (including masks). You should find it will be an improvement (although the dngs often look soft to me - that's the downside)
(Edited)
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Correct. The resulting file should have more latitude when making your adjustments. Lightroom is just producing a raw file that hasn't been overly adjusted or developed in terms of tone mapping.
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Anthony Blackett

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Thanks for the replies, but I'm still not clear as to how much image information is used from the set of bracketed files.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Anthony Blackett

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Much appreciated Jeffrey, that really does help explain what the new HDR DNG format is.
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Paul Plak

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well there is real HDR software for sale, you know ... you can't expect a software block in LR asking no parameters to do fancy things. I do many operations outside of LR, beacuse there are better tools available for specific subjects, like HDR, panoramas, slideshows, uploading to the net.
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Anthony Blackett

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Thanks for that Paul, I'm not expecting fancy, but trying to understand what LR's HDR merge actually does.