Exposure Blending HDR

Use the HDR (High Dynamic Range) function to assemble multiple photos with varying exposure ranges into a single picture. This is sometimes called "sandwiching."

This function helps solve the problem of the limited dynamic range of camera sensors. Because of this limited range, digital cameras cannot satisfactorily capture scenes with large differences in brightness, like a dark forest beneath a bright sky, or a dark room with light pouring in from a window. Since a photograph cannot capture a scene with such a large exposure range in a way that captures details in all parts of the scene, the photographer is forced to "sacrifice" details in either the light or the dark areas. But if the photographer can take three pictures identical except for their exposure – underexposed, overexposed, and "medium" – they can take advantage of HDR. Zoner Photo Studio can then use the most detailed areas from each shot to put together a new picture.

HDR pictures are normally composed from three shots, but sometimes two are enough, that is, either normal + underexposed (to capture lights), normal + overexposed (to capture shadows), or under/overexposed. After selecting source pictures in the Browser, use Create | HDR via Exposure Mapping… to start the wizard. To fix any mistakes you might have in your selection, use the wizard's first step. In the next step, the pictures are automatically aligned. Double-check the alignment and manually fix it here if needed. For advice on checking and fixing alignment, see the Help section for Aligning Pictures , as this function contains a similar window.

Use the next step to set which picture is properly exposed, which is underexposed, and which is overexposed. The program will try to order the pictures automatically. However, you can also reorder them by dragging and dropping them. In the next step, the HDR picture is actually created. You can use several settings to influence how it will look.

The various settings are separate for lights and for shadows, but their meaning is the same for both. Use Transition threshold to set the brightness level beyond which a pixel in the underexposed/overexposed picture is copied into the "medium" picture. However, this threshold need not be a sharp one; pixels from the source pictures can be phased in gradually. To set the width of such gradual transitions, use Transition smoothness. However, even with this sort of smooth transition, the border between the original and the changed part of the picture can be quite visible. You can alleviate this by using what is called an unsharp mask to blend the edit into the surrounding pixels as well. You can change the mask's unsharpness using Mask blurring. The last setting is Intensity, which sets the ratio between the original picture and the one being copied in.

Use the buttons in the last step to save the final HDR picture to file or open it in the Editor so you can continue editing it.