Articles, Blog

How to Create 32-Bit HDR Images in Photoshop

November 2, 2019

Hey, everyone! Howard Pinsky here from IceflowStudios with a cross-application tutorial. Today,
I’m going to show you guys how Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.1 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 can
work hand-in-hand to produce stunning HDR images. In the past, I would use one or the other.
Lightroom with a plugin, or directly merge the photos to Photoshop’s HDR Pro. So if
I could use only one application in the past, why the heck would I want to use two? Well
there’s a very good reason. 32-bit editing. With Lightroom 4.1, we now have the ability
to edit 32-bit HDR images, which eliminates the need for an external plugin, and you’92re
more likely to end up with a more natural result. Let’92s take a look.
So here in Lightroom, I have three images
which I took at Oxford University. As you can see, each image has been taken at a different
exposure, to capture the shadows, midtones, and highlights, which a single image simply
cannot do. I’92m only working with 3 images, but if you want an even higher dynamic range,
you can easily use 5 brackets, if your camera supports it.
So, with all three images selected, I’92m
going to right-click on any of them, go to Edit In, and then select Merge to HDR Pro
in Photoshop, which has been available to you for quite sometime. At this point, Photoshop
will spring into action and start the process of not only combining the 3 exposures, but
it will also attempt to line up the images. Sometimes, especially if you’92re like me
and don’92t use a tripod…don’92t tell anyone, your photos may be slightly misaligned.
Lining them up will give you a much cleaner result.
And here’92s the HDR Pro window, which many
of you may be familiar with, but instead of going through all of these sliders to create
a 16-bit HDR image, we’92re actually going to switch over to 32-bit here at the top.
This will simply merge all three images and their data, allowing us to bring it back into
Lightroom and use all the wonderful adjustments that Camera Raw has to offer, which again,
should give you a more natural result than HDR toning would.
Now don’92t worry too much about the white
point slider at the top. It’92s simply there for preview purposes. I’92ll click OK to
finalize the merge, which could take a few minutes, depending on your computer, and the
amount of exposures you’92re working with.
And once the merge is complete, all you need to do is save. A simple Command/Ctrl + S will
pop your new 32-bit image in the same location that the other images are in. Let’92s hop
back over to Lightroom, where our new image should be waiting for us.
And there it is! From here, you can use the
same adjustments that you’92ve been using previously, but because we have a 32-bit image,
made up of three exposures, there is a TON a data to work with. Take a look as I increase
and decrease the exposure. Obviously you wouldn’92t need to go this extreme, but it gives you
an idea as to what’92s actually available to you. I’92ll leave the Exposure increased
ever so slightly, dump the Highlights to get rid of the unnecessary bright areas, and then
increase the Shadows to allow us to see into some of the more shaded areas of this photo.
Of course, what’92s an edit without increasing
the Clarity? This will increase the contrast of your midtones, which will look great on
texture such as bricks and stone. Finally, the overall color of this image is a little
bit dull, so increasing the Vibrance a touch should do the trick. I’92m not going to touch
the Saturation slider, as the stones have a lot of yellow in them. Increasing the Saturation
on images that contain a lot of yellow or skin tones, can result in some funky results.
Sliding down the Develop module, the selective
adjustment tool is also available to us. I love this tool. You’92re able to selectively
adjust the Hue, Saturation and Luminance of any part of your image. For example, if I
wanted a slightly darker sky, under Luminance, I can activate the selective adjustment tool,
and then click and drag on the color I want effected, in this case, the blue of the sky.
Dragging up will brighten it, while dragging it down will darken it.
The same goes for Hue/Saturation. Let’92s
say I wanted to slightly decrease the yellow tint in the stones. Selecting Saturation will
allow me to use the same tool to increase or decrease the saturation of the stones and
even the grass if I wish.
Finally, let’92s slide down the LensCorrections to deal with some of the Chromatic Aberrations
that I see in the trees. Also new in Lightroom 4.1, I can use the Fringe Color Selector to
sample any purple or green fringes that may be present, and then adjust the sliders if
And that should complete the edit! Let’92s take a look at the final result, in comparison
to the original images. We started with an over-exposed image to capture the shaded areas
of the scene, an under-exposed image to capture the lighter areas like the roof of this building,
and a neutral image to capture everything in between, and after merging all three images
into a 32-bit HDR file, and performing some pretty basic edits, we’92re left with a beautiful
photo that captures a range that is more true to what the human eye might see.
So even though if may seem more convenient
to use only one application, utilizing all your resources can leave you with much more
desirable results!
If you want to catch more tutorials just like this, check me out at
Take care.}


  • Reply leneay November 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm


  • Reply CrazeDesigns November 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Finally back with another video!

  • Reply mike hawk November 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    you didnt even watch the video…

  • Reply Josh L November 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Just when I was researching about HDR…
    Thanks for this.

  • Reply Vince Pedulla November 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks! great tute!

  • Reply JC November 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hey! It's the Radcliffe Camera! πŸ˜€ I have a very old print of this building from the 1830s.

  • Reply Scott Norman November 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks Howard, so helpful and easy to follow, keep up the good work!

  • Reply mike hawk November 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm


  • Reply Manny Calavera November 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Neat video!

  • Reply Maxsdiscos November 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Great video. I didn't know it was that easy. Is any of this available in elements?

  • Reply witherm01 November 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you very much for the tip.

  • Reply kaseorepresenta November 3, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Does Lightroom deal better than Photoshop with "Chromatic Aberration"?

  • Reply egal November 3, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    It looks so 3d. It's insane.

  • Reply Abdelali KHMISSOU November 4, 2012 at 12:26 am

    not bad, but i prefer photoMatrix

  • Reply Josh Purple November 4, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Nice!! Thank you!

  • Reply Lysander Spooner November 4, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Thanks. Much nicer than most HDR from Photomatix.

  • Reply Emanuel Tilly November 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    64bit would be beautiful

  • Reply Sally Kaiser November 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the amazing information upload .. I had no clue, and I have about a bazillion photos which will greatly benefit!

  • Reply Jim R. Didriksen November 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Yeah that would also give more views I believe by keeping the titles simpler (for regular peoples wording) , for grandma.

  • Reply Howard Pinsky November 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I'm working on a course dedicated to retouching. Stay tuned. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Wouter Mol November 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    This is actually the first HDR tutorial video that does exactly what I want. Realistic HDR photo's without 5 hours of editing, thanks!

  • Reply nuggetsnig November 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    and you're proud

  • Reply DjBBKTeeVee November 4, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    18 people agree.

  • Reply DjBBKTeeVee November 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I'm not completely sure what you gain from all of the tutorial videos you make but I hope its a lot because it really helps. Thank you.

  • Reply Howard Pinsky November 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I do this for a living. I'm glad they help. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Incubus November 4, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    really nice

  • Reply Aero November 5, 2012 at 4:10 am

    You really don't have to be making requests for redundant videos that you need to edit your profile picture or w.e. Howard is a professional photographer and graphic designer, his job isn't to make tutorials on how to make yourself look a little thinner in your Facebook uploads…

  • Reply Ian Boichat November 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Finally an easy way to create good looking HDR pictures – fits my workflow well, thanks for pointing this out! Found photomatix was better than photoshop for HDR but for "normal" looking images this is cool.

  • Reply Aero November 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Did I judge in my comment? No. I told you you don't have to be making those kinds of requests. That wasn't me judging, but I'm about to…you're ridiculous. I'm telling you, Howard is an expert. Making tutorials on rudimentary things would just be a waste of his time and talents, especially since he already did those types of tutorials and has moved on. For example, a professional artist doesn't waste his time with crayons, he most likely sculpts or uses oil paints, etc.

  • Reply RicheUK November 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Great precise tutorial,

    I do the same workflow in Adobe Camera Raw and the results are as you say are a more natural way of bringing out details in the shadow and highlights of a image.

    Its all down to the eye of the beholder but I'm afraid I'm not a fan of over the top/surreal HDR work.

    Again great video, now a subscriber πŸ™‚

  • Reply Alexandre Racine November 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Just one thing, just "SAVE" does not work. You will have to do a SAVE AS TIFF for this to work.

  • Reply Joe G.P. November 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    i never had any luck with HDR, they never came out like i wanted, there was always something wrong, maybe i didn't take enough exposures, who knows, then one day i noticed i get a lot more pleasing images buy just using 1 Raw file and tweaking it in Camera Raw, it might not have quite as much dynamic range but it also didn't have any problems

  • Reply Howard Pinsky November 11, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Thank you, Riche!

  • Reply Howard Pinsky November 11, 2012 at 1:03 am

    This is definitely a great method for 'normal' looking HDR images. Glad you liked it.

  • Reply Howard Pinsky November 11, 2012 at 1:03 am

    "Save" has worked for me in all cases, so far. I'm not sure why it wouldn't, but "Save As" is always available.

  • Reply msscrz November 11, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Great Vid.

  • Reply Mark Rakocy November 15, 2012 at 5:58 am

    I was having this same issue and think I figured it out. In LR Preferences under "Exernal Editing" Tab you can choose to have it save as a PSD or a TIFF. If you have PSD selected then just hitting "Save" in Photoshop saves it as a 32-Bit PSD which is unsupported in Lightroom (4.2). But 32-Bit TIFF is supported in LR. I'm guessing IceFlow has his Pref set to TIFF, while Alexandre has PSD. So you either need to change that Preference in LR or use the "Save As" TIFF in PS.

  • Reply Simon Lauzon November 20, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    y U no make more videos for lightroom!?

  • Reply jubjuber1 November 21, 2012 at 7:14 am

    omg this is amazing, i use it all the time now, HDR landscapes, without having to deal with fake looking outputs half the time

  • Reply Saliya K November 23, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Does anyone know whether lightroom 3.4 supports tiff. This doesn't work for me with LR 3.4 and PS CS5. I'm not sure if it's a problem with my CS5, because the tiff file looks grey'ish' when I open it from a picture viewer, but looks ok when opened from PS.

  • Reply Milena Ferreira December 11, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Perfect! Thanks.

  • Reply onraj9mm December 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    awesome, some time ago i ditched all the photomatix and others nonsense in favor of lightrooms highlights/shadows sliders for single exposure raw files with great results. and this trick is a great way to extend the dynamic range, thanks.

  • Reply deBiezel December 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    You can set export as TIFF in preferences of Lightroom when you leave Lightroom to go to Photoshop. In that case "save" does the trick.

  • Reply Melody Migas December 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    My LR did the same thing πŸ™ I thought they were suppose to work together. IS there a fix?

  • Reply Alex Krylov December 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Yep, the same. 32-bit tiff works, 32-bit PSD don't.

  • Reply klabton December 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    It works for me also. On PC πŸ™‚

  • Reply gnicklin December 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Excellent tutorial!

  • Reply John Magruder December 12, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Well that looks great. Shame I only have CS5

  • Reply John Desborough December 12, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I would have liked to see you improve this image further by using the manual section of the Lens Correction to straighten the sides and make the image 'stand up' more. It looks as if it is laying back and I'm sure you know this can be corrected, super image, when straightened.

  • Reply Jon Amundsen December 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Hi1 Great feature, thank you! But my Lightroom 4.2 says it will not edit my new image saved from Photoshop. It is all tray in Lightroom. Is this because it saved the new file as PSD? (linear)? Any ideas? Cheers!

  • Reply Jon Amundsen December 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Ahhh. Tnx!

  • Reply Jon Amundsen December 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Thanks, Alexandre Racine!

  • Reply Hind135 December 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for this tutorial. I've been fighting for realism in my HDR images for years.

  • Reply Schaaf January 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    a really good tutorial – unfortunately, I still don't manage to create good HDRs. Just right now, I tried to combine 4 exposures (from a tripod) and everytime I'm getting a completely different outcome from the one Photoshop previews me in the HDR-Pro software…

  • Reply IamMotionMedia February 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    How do you export the final 32bit edit ?

  • Reply Tony Speakman March 8, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Is there any way to batch process these? This is one of the key features of Photomatix Pro for me. I like the result I'm getting from Photoshop but don't like needing to do them 1 at a time. Any help would be great…

  • Reply owninggezer April 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Dude, you're a boss. This is the best tutorial I've found yet! I hate those HDR color vomits people love to make. This is perfect for me because I want natural photos! Please keep it up.

  • Reply Rosario Curia May 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Hi, I followed your tutorial (really clear and simple) but I hope you can help me.
    When I try to process my 32bit tiff I ALWAYS get false colours in my pictures.
    Like they have a greenish/magenta tint, no matter how I change white balance on lightroom.
    I tried two different cameras too, Nikon D70s and D7000 but I always get this issue (more on D70s).
    Where I get wrong?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Reply cigaro89 May 21, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Save worked perfectly for me. Jut like in the tutorial but Save as is always available. Great tutorial

  • Reply Gimo Nasiff June 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I'm a LR user and never knew about it.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this tutorial!

  • Reply Richard Uchytil June 3, 2013 at 1:19 am

    I just tried this and got an error saving back to LR, "lightroom has encountered a problem reading this photo". LR 4.4, PS CS6, Win7. Three photos from my Sony a55. Each raw was converted to DNG when imported into LR, 17MB. Saving as a TIFF then importing into LR worked. Both TIFF and PSD are 166MB. I'm wondering if it's something with the file size of the PSD? And I'm not happy with the TIFF, colors are too fake. πŸ™ Great video though, as always!

  • Reply Michael Christensen June 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Living next spor to Alice

  • Reply RayPlay Marco June 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    but even the HDR image in 32 bits tif back in Lr the automatic profile lens correction, other then a bit of lens vignetting, doesn't work anymore on this file.

  • Reply Martin Boumans August 12, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Hi Howard, I'm working as a 3D artist and I often use HDR-files as a lightning method. Does Lightroom also have the possibility to save the merged image as an "example.hdr" file? Very clear tutorial by the way, thanks!

  • Reply Rakesh Reddy August 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Guys, would you take a look at Photo Ultra Tools on Google already? Found out about it yesterday and it's the best photography training I ever discovered!

  • Reply Andy Barfoot August 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Were any of your original images RAW format ?
    I've understood that you can still produce HDR photos from one image, provided it is a RAW image. I've yet to find the instructions for doing this, but I guess you could always export 3 images with different exposure bracketing.

  • Reply Martin Boumans September 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Andy, I might have the solution for you. Open a picture in PS. Go to Image – Mode and select "32-bit". After that, go to "save as" and under the format tab, choose Radiance. This way you save it as a "example.hdr". Hope this helped you out πŸ™‚

  • Reply LetsGetItStartedNow October 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Congratulations, Howard. You have the most verbose, easiest, complete, intuitive and quickest HDR tutorial video on planet! Thank you for making this video

  • Reply William nguyen December 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Truly amazing, thanks!

  • Reply xRoman1989x April 19, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Hi Howard, is there a chance to switch to 64 bit? (1:48) I have windows 7 and Photoshop both working on 64 bit.

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