5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 5

5 Quick Steps to Better HDRs – Step 5

  1. Straighten, Crop, Clean-up
  2. Decrease Noise
  3. Set a Black & White point
  4. Balance your Tone
  5. Sharpen Your Image

Sharpening your image

Making an HDR can bring out a lot of detail in an image, but that is “Tonal” detail. It doesn’t necessarily mean our image is Sharp. In fact the HDR process itself can soften an image. It may be from just the process, but we can also get softness from: the alignment of images, or the deghosting of images. We can even get some softness with any chromatic aberration fixes we do. And then there is the simple fact that straight out of the camera, raw images are not that sharp and require some post processing sharpening. I like to do it at the end of processing however instead of before I merge images. I also sharpen an image depending on the size of the image and how it will be used, Printed or web display as I talk about in this article devoted strictly to sharpening.

You can sharpen an image much ways. You can use sharpening tools in Lightroom, Or you can use some of the sharpening filters in Photoshop such as Un-sharp Mask or Smart Sharpening.

If you want to get a little more advanced, you can look into “HighPass” sharpening as discussed here.

And finally you may want to look at some of the sophisticated sharpening tools and plug-ins such as:

  • Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0
  •  Topaz Labs Detail 2

Before Sharpening

After Sharpening


Which ever way you choose to do it a little sharpening goes a long way to take your HDR from Ehh to wow!


For more on sharpening  read https://thehdrimage.com/sharpening-for-print-and-the-web-home-brews-and-nik-sharpener-pro-3-0/


And that concludes 5 Quick Ways to better HDRs. I hope they help you to refine your images and give them that little extra that gets you more and better comments on your work wherever you share it




  1. Crunch Hardtack February 6, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Hi Peter, Crunch here-

    I just finished reading Bret Edge’s post regarding several photographer’s use of Nik products in their workflow, including you, plus some other photographers that were highlighted.

    HDR Question: Do you introduce your RAW files through Lightroom, directly importing them into HDR Efex and then use Dfine in Photoshop, or import RAW (and/or convert to TIFF) files into Photoshop, run Dfine, and then import into HDR Efex?

    Normally, I send the RAW files directly to HDR Efex Pro 2 from Lightroom, tweak, and then take them to Photoshop for further processing. That’s when I use Dfine, but after reading the post, I started thinking that maybe cleaner output could be achieved by using Dfine first on the individual files, importing to HDR Efex, and then back to Photoshop. Any ideas?


    • Peter February 7, 2013 at 12:44 am #

      Hi Crunch,
      Thanks for the comments.

      Hi Crunch,
      Thanks for the comments.

      Sometimes it very much depends on the image.

      Bit most times I will Export from LR to HDR Efex Pro, only correcting for White Balance if necessary before export. Then after working on the image in HDR Efex Pro, I will bring it back into LR and do lens corrections or a few other tings and then In take it into Photoshop for the final process. It is then that I determine if the file needs noise reduction or not. Sometimes the noise is not present (visibly) till after the HDR Merge and I would prefer not using any Noise Reduction if I don’t have to.

      But I am sure there may be some instances where I may use noise reduction be fore NIk HDR Efex Pro 2, such as If I had to shot at a high ISO and I knew there already was noise in the RAW File.

      But I will say most times I do Noise reduction as the second thing I do in Photoshop once it gets there.
      Thanks again, Hope that helps


      • Crunch Hardtack February 8, 2013 at 4:21 am #

        Thanx Peter for your answer. As always, there isn’t a right way or wrong way to process files in Photoshop, except for saving and re-saving in JPG! :-0 ; just many different avenues to achieving the same effect.

        I love Joshua Tree! Hope to make it there again this spring.


2 Trackbacks

  1. By 5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 4 on January 31, 2013 at 9:29 am

    […] « 5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 3 5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 5 » […]

  2. By 5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 4 on October 26, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    […] « 5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 3 5 Quick Steps to better HDRs – Step 5 » […]