High Dynamic Range-technique (HDR) is a photography technique that is achieved by shooting two or more standard photographs, taken at different exposure levels, and then merging them together into an HDR image. The merging of these photos can be done with the help of photo editing tools such as Photoshop and Photomatix.
HDR can create extremely beautiful pictures that highlight the viewer’s perspectives, which can make the picture, look more realistic.
In this tutorial you will learn how to create or transform your pictures into HDR by tuning them with the help of Adobe Photoshop. Unlike the actual HDR technique, this Photoshop trick will require only a single JPEG image. You don’t have to shoot into RAW images or take multiple photos.
Note: In this tutorial, I’m using Photoshop CS5 (CS4 compatible), so there might be a few changes with regard to menu options if you are working with CS3 or lesser.
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Open the image that you want to convert to HDR
Go to Image -> Adjustments and click on Shadow/Highlights. Set the Shadow and Highlights to 45-50%
Now, duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl + J on PC. Desaturate the duplicated layer by pressing Shit + Ctrl + U (Or Image -> Adjustments and click on Desaturate). After that, change the layer blending to Hard Light
You’re almost there. Now to make the picture look more realistic, let’s add extra colors to it. Duplicate the base (original) layer again, and move it on top of the other layers as shown below.
Next, go to Filter -> Blur and select Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to around 35 pixels. Now, change the layer blending to Soft Light.
You’re done. If you’re not satisfied with the effect, then you can redo the above steps to give your image a strong effect.
P.S. The image used in demonstrating this