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HDR stand for High Dynamic Range, HDR technique allows a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques. For taking a HDR photos professional photographers use DSLR cameras and capture an image using multiple exposure. Hobbyist photographer may not have a professional expensive camera and lens, so getting a quality HDR image is a hard job for them. This post will be covering HDR photoshop tutorial & illustrate how to make a fake HDR image in photoshop from single photo i.e without additional images with different exposures.

This technique is not true technique for HDR image but will provide a result close to HDR image (that’s why I called it Fake HDR) and is easy as well. Besides this, it also doesn’t require expensive professional camera. The images I have used in this tutorial are taken by me using Canon Digital Camera (12 mega px).

 
You can also check our tutorial on how to make HDR photos using free software.
Open an image you want to apply HDR effect on.
1. Duplicate the original layer two times. Press shortcut key Ctrl+J for your easiness.  I have named these layers Original , layer2 and layer3 so that they can be tracked.

2. Set the blending mode of Layer2 to Overlay.

3. Now Desaturate the image: Image->Adjustements -> Desaturate. (Shift + Ctrl + U). Then invert Layer2: Image -> Adjustements -> Invert (Ctrl + I) and finally apply Gaussian Blur to it (Filter- > Blur -> Gaussian Blur) around 40-50 pixels as per your need.

4. Change the blending mode of Layer3 to Overlay.

5. Apply highpass to Layer3, Filter->Other->Highpass with 50px-60px Radius. You can adjust the radius to match with image. If you want moderate looking HDR, reduce the opacity of the 3rd layer, if you’d like more HDR-like effect duplicate the layer.

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Alternative method, HDR from single image

This is alternative method, you can create HDR from single image. You need to create three images of different exposures i.e -2, 0 and 2. Exposure 0 is the original image. After creating three images merge them into one as used in HDR technique. To merge these images into one HDR image, in Adobe Photoshop open menu File>Automate>Merge to HDR. You can also use software such as Photomatrix for this.

hdr effect tutorial