How To Make HDR Look Effect With Only 1 Photo

One of the popular photo editing methods in the world of photography is to make the HDR or High Dynamic Range photos. This type of photos can be differed from the sharpness of its visual as well as the color contrast those are different from the regular photos. HDR or High Dynamic Range is a process to take a few photos from one similar object in the different levels of exposure and then put the photos together through the computer program that will usually use the exposure bracketing technique (organizing the amount of light that comes to the image).

In order to make the perfect or professional HDR photos, we at least need a digital camera, a tripod and HDR software such as Photomax, Artisan, easyHDR, Dynamic Photo and many more. Certainly, several of these software pro are not free or need to be paid. The best alternative is by using the latest version of Photoshop that already provided the direct covert through the HDR pro tool. However, trying to create HDR photo online with the single photo can actually be quite easy. It can be tried by one of the HDR tools online at

The followings are the simple and easy example to create the HDR photo by using Photoshop and combianed with the free software "Luminace HDR". It can be downloaded first here.

How To Make HDR Look Effect With Only 1 Photo
Original Image
Step 1: Convert JPG photo To TIFF/EXR file. To create the first HDR photo, copy photos into 3 pieces that will be combined with the different exposure values or levels.

how to make a hdr photo from a single image
The amount of exposure value or EV can be determined first. In the example image, the photo number 3 is -2, 0 and +2. For the landscape photos, 3 photos will be enough to create HDR in good quality.

Step 2: In the Photoshop Choose File - Automate - Merge to HDR Pro. Merge to HDR and then add the three photos that will be combined together. This works on Photoshop CS2 – CS6 (CS2 Doesn’t have auto align and it’s called “Merge to HDR on versions older than CS5).
Get the HDR effect from one image

The merged result is a floating-point 32 bit image. Neat, in the section of HDR pro box, we will be able to organize photos that have been uploaded earlier. There are 3 main parts in the dialog screen preview; the order of the photos and the part of image settings. In this example, the setting is being left at the default with the size of 32 bit images.

Creating an HDR effect from a single image

By choosing Default, we have acquired the realistic HDR photo. You can view the available tones by sliding the White Point slider to examine the range of tones, When it has been done, go and save the HDR image in the format of TIFF or OpenEXR (*.EXR).

Step 3:  Run Luminance HDR that has been downloaded earlier and open the HDR photo from Photoshop on the menu Open HDR Image.

Tutorial HDR Look with a Single Image

At the interface of Luminance software, there are several options such as tone mapping (Mantiuk, Fattal, Drago, Durand, Reinhard, Pattanaik and Asikhmin) that will be useful to map the photos into the different dynamic ranges. Just choose one available operator style and then click the button to Tonemap. In the example below, we use "Fattal" with the following setting:

hdr effect photoshop

For several visual view, every operator tonemap will be different. Each operator takes the input HDR image and processes it in its own way. Additionally, each operator has its own collection of parameters with sliders that allow you to further modify the actions of the tone mapping. We will be able to adjust it depending on the character of the HDR background.

Make HDR Look Effect With single Photo

The example in the following photo is the result of comabination from HDR Pro Photoshop and the Luminace HDR software.