DailyDev: Photoshop Fake HDR

June 16, 2010

I’ll have to get out with a tripod sometime and try it the scratch-made way, but today I faked a high dynamic range photo in Photoshop using this tutorial.

Finished Product

HDR image

Photoshop faked HDR image of the Raleigh (N.C.) Convention Center

Original image

Original image of the Raleigh (N.C.) Convention Center, before getting the fake HDR treatment in Photoshop.


  • Mimic the human eye and then some by making extremely light and extremely dark areas visible at once.
  • Create dramatic-looking photographs.
  • Potentially rescue poorly exposed images.

DailyDev blog series logo -- day 9Cons

  • Fun to play around with, but for everyday Web publishers, limited practical applications.
  • It takes time and talent to keep the HDR image from looking too fake.
  • Even proper HDR images are controversial in some photography circles.


  • Experiment. Don’t be scared to deviate from the tutorial recipe. Every photograph is different. Plus, there’s always several ways to skin a cat in Photoshop. Oh, and always save your original .psd!


  • To mess around with, why not? A more subtle application than this could be used to correct over/under exposure in photo illustrations. This technique should be avoided in news photos, however; it’s distorting reality.

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