HDR, which stands for ‘High Dynamic Range imaging’, is a method of adding more dynamic range to your images. Check out the this article here to really understand the concept of dynamic range in more detail: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dynamic-range.htm
This effect is usually created in photoshop by using three different images at different exposures (high, medium and low) taken using exposure bracketing, and combining them together into one single picture. Mobile devices that have an HDR option in it’s camera settings also uses that same method, which is why it usually takes longer for those images to process.
In Lightroom, we are not able to use layers to combine images, but we can still create a similar effect using just one image and the tool bar options.
Before I get into the tutorial, I’d like to remind you that the values I used for the example image below may not be the best values for your own image. Remember to use your own judgement and adjust the values according to your picture and your own taste.
The image that I will be using was taken at The University of Guelph Arboretum, in Guelph, Ontario.
Here is the image before adding any HDR effects:
The first step to creating an HDR look is to decrease the highlights all the way to -100 and increase the shadow bar all the way to +100.
This gives us the following image:
As you can see the shadows in the fence and the grass underneath have become lighter in the picture, and the trees in the background pop out more. Overall it just looks so much more defined. There’s such a huge difference already with just adjusting two bars. (The magic of lightroom ;D )
Next, we’re going to bump up the whites and bring down the blacks. The trick to getting this part at the perfect spot is by pressing the option key on Mac while clicking on the slider (in Windows I believe you would use the alt key, but I could be wrong). This causes the entire image to turn black. While continuously pressing down on the alt key, move your slider to the right until you start seeing specks of white or colour. As soon as you see those specks, move your slider back to the left just a tad to get to the spot where the image stays all black. (I hope this makes sense.) For the blacks, you do the same thing but in the opposite direction and opposite colours. So instead of black, you will see a white image and as you go further left you will see specks of black. However, for the blacks, you want to stop the little pointer at a spot where there is still some black on the image. Unfortunately I couldn’t print screen it, but I did take a picture of my screen with my phone.