Creating Pseudo HDR Images in Lightroom 2

If you haven’t heard yet, Lightroom 2 is great! Ok, ok you might have heard me mention it a few times but learning is about repetition.  🙂

So here I was post processing my Greece photos in Lightroom playing around with the main basic adjustment sliders when I thought to myself… hey! this kinda looks like an HDR photo. So I tweaked and tweaked until I got a pretty cool HDR look that looked cool. Then I thought that you guys might like to know how to do it too.  So here I am.

Now, before I go on, and before the true HDR people out there burn me to the stake, I just want to say that this is NOT real HDR. It just kinda looks like HDR. Lightroom doesn’t have the ability to create HDR images without Photoshop or certain plugins like Enfuse. You can check out my tutorial on how to create HDR photos in Photoshop or in Lightroom using Enfuse. Ok, now that hat’s out of the way, let’s get to it.

You’ll see that it’s not at all complicated to create this HDR look in Lightroom. All you need to do is play with a few sliders. It’s all done Basic Panel. This is my workflow but you can do it in any order you want. I start off by bringing some of the shadow details out by using the Fill Light slider. Don’t be afraid to crank this one up.

Then I slightly increase the blacks or more contrast.

After that, if off to the Contrast slider and lowering it slightly.

Time now to boost the Exposure so that the image is properly exposed.

After properly exposing the photo, you might get some blown out highlights so the next step is to use the Recovery slider.

Now that we got most of the basic settings done, it’s just a question of tweaking Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation to your liking. And voilà! you’ve just created your pseudo HDR image directly in Lightroom.

To make things easier for you, I’ve created 2 HDR Lightroom presets to download. CLICK HERE to get them.

HDR1 is for high contrast scenes like a bright sky and a dark foreground. HDR2 is more grunge-like similar to what Topaz Adjust does. Both versions have a vignette option as well. Here are some before and after shots using these presets.


HDR1 Vignette


HDR2 Vignette

Here’s how you import Lightroom 2 presets. Unzip and place presets in a folder on your computer. In Lightroom, right click on any of your current presets and select Import… Find your folder with the presets and select them then click OK. Done!

5 responses on "Creating Pseudo HDR Images in Lightroom 2"

  1. Hello Yanik!
    The theme of HDR has always deterred me so far. In your instructions it looks very simple, I will now try it out!

    Thank you for your instructions!


  2. Hey love your stuff especially the lightroom

  3. Hi Yanik, I have been a fan of your blog for awhile. Love the tutorials and thanks for the presets!

  4. Hey Debbi

    How things change. 🙂 I do have access to studios here in Montreal now. The thing is tha I haven’t shot one photo in them since I got here! I’ve just had one contract after another keeping me super busy barely keeping up with YPS!

    Who knows what 2010 will hold in that respect. I’m booked solid until the end of March so maybe after that. 🙂

  5. Hi Yanik!
    Love your blog, but very disappointed as we never seem to have gotten the promised studio videos “behind the scenes of the shoot’ from your move last April. I keep waiting, and I’m still disappointed. It was suppose to be the highlight of this blog (for me)

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