Convert Bracketed Photos for HDR

If you decide to convert your bracketed Raw photos to TIFFs or JPEGs before generating the high dynamic range image in an HDR application, follow these steps:

1Open the bracketed source images in your Raw editor.

Examples of these programs are Photoshop Elements or Adobe Camera Raw.


2Make the necessary changes to the conversion settings.

Keep a light hand on the controls, as shown in the figure, which shows several brackets of an old, abandoned dump truck. You’re not after the Mona Lisa in this step. Remember not to mess with exposure, or rescue detail from highlights or shadows.

Develop presets based on your favorite conversion settings to speed things up. You might have a preset that performs a straight conversion, another with more noise reduction, and another that sharpens the image a bit. Choose the appropriate preset and apply.

3Save the result.

Saving converted Raw files as 16-bit TIFFs results in the highest quality but the largest file size. 8-bit TIFFs are the next best choice, with JPEG bringing up the rear.


4Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the rest of the bracketed photos.

Many Raw converters allow batch processing. This figure shows the Batch Process dialog box from Nikon Capture NX 2. Set up a conversion preset, name it something logical, and then run the batch routine on the bracketed Raw photos. Make sure to save the results as 8- or 16-bit TIFFs or JPEGs. This is a great time-saver when you dump 300 pictures from a photo shoot onto your computer!