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The technique behind the HDR images is based on taken the same shot three or more times using under-exposed value of -2, default exposure value of zero, and over exposed value of +2. The three images should be taken with the same position and other factors such as the ISO and shutter speed. Then the images are imported into Adobe Photoshop using the HDR script that merge the images in one HDR image allowing you to modify the HDR setting. There are other applications that can process HDR images such as easyHDR, Artizen HDR, and DynamicPhoto HDR, etc.

In many situations, the photographer takes the image on only one exposure level or even takes images with the mobile camera that does not support creating the HDR effect mentioned above. The other method to create the HDR effect is called the Pseudo- HDR, which refers to simulating the HDR effect with the effects and adjustments already existing in Adobe Photoshop.

This introduction to the HDR will help us to understand how to simulate this effect using the Photoshop filter and adjustments in below steps. In this tutorial, we will learn how to turn a normal image to HDR photo and the image below shows the final result after applying all the steps:


Step 1
Choose File>Open to open the image inside Adobe Photoshop. In this tutorial, I using free stock image from the following link:


Step 2
From the Image menu, choose Adjustment> Shadow and Highlights to modify the image light and shades areas.


Step 3
The Shadow/Highlights dialog box appears. Set the values as following (if you do not see all the settings, you can check the Show More Options box):

  • In the Shadows section, set the value to 25%, the Tonal Width to 0%, and the Radius to 500px.
  • In the Highlights section, set the value to 30%, the Tonal Width to 75%, and the Radius to 600px.
  • In the Adjustments section, set the Color Correction to +25 and Midtone Contrast to +10.
  • Press Ok


Step 4
Create a duplicate for the selected layer by dragging it to the New Layer icon in the bottom of the layers panel. Set the blending mode for the new layer to Overlay.


Step 5
Go to the Filter menu and apply the High Pass filter from Other. Set its value to 1000 px.


Step 6
Select all the layers by pressing Shift and click on the layer to select. Right-click on the selected layers and choose Merge Layers.


Step 7

Duplicate the flattened layer again. Cover the duplicated layer to black and white by selecting Desaturate command from Image> Adjustments.


Step 8

Invert the colors by clicking Cmd+ I (Ctrl+I in Windows) and set the layer blending to Overlay and the opacity to 50%.

Step 9
From the Filter menu, choose Blur> Gaussian Blur. Set its value to 1000 px to create shades around the image.


Step 10
Click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Curves.


Step 11
The Curves Properties panel appears, modify the shape to be as the figure below and set the opacity of the adjustment layer to 25%.

The final HDR image should look like the below figure: