Hands-on Photo Tips: How to remove halos in your HDR images

How to remove HDR halos - Exyample

HDR halo removal – example: The original image is tonemapped with quite extreme parameters and exhibits notable halos (1). After the halo removal in Photoshop, the halos disappeared (2)

Are you getting halos in your HDR images? Sometimes, you find the perfect setting in your HDR software, but right at that setting, halos start showing up and ruin your image. These ugly bright fringes around high-contrast edges are a well-known and common problem in HDR photography. In this video, I will first go over some tips to avoid halos in the first place. Then I will show you how to get rid of them in Photoshop by darkening those halo regions selectively.


  1. It’s best to watch this video at the highest resolution full-screen. Start the video below by clicking on it and activate 720p mode by using the gear wheel icon in the player. Then, click the icon that shows the four corners of a square. The player will go full-screen.
  2. Go to the table of contents below to jump right to a specific section.
  3. To try the whole process yourself, download all the files at the end of this post.

Watch the video from the start…

…or jump straight to a specific topic

  • Introduction [00:11]
  • How to avoid halos in tonemapping [01:22]
  • Halo removal in Photoshop [03:07]
  • The principle idea [04:00]
  • How it works step-by-step [06:18]
  • Selecting the non-haloed parts (Quick Selection Tool) [07:02]
  • Refining your mask edges [08:59]
  • Creating a Levels layer (darkening) [11:03]
  • How to mask the halo region [12:43]
  • The before-and-after [15:26]
  • How to refine the halo mask [15:45]
  • Summary [16:20]

Download all the files to try it out yourself

How to remove halos in your HDR images - download package - farbspiel-photo.com

Click the icon above to download the package with all the files (284 MB).

If you want to check out the end result or try it out yourself, simply download this package. It contains the following:

  • The original RAW files (.NEF)
  • The RAW converter preset files (.xmp) created by Adobe Camera RAW in the conversion. Your RAW converter will load these and reproduce the settings I chose.
  • The 32-bit HDR file created by Photomatix (.exr). If you want to start with the tonemapping, simply load this file into your HDR software.
  • The Photomatix Pro 4.2 parameter file (.xmp). Load this file while you’re in the tonemapping settings of Photomatix to get the exact same settings I used in the tutorial.
  • The Photoshop file with all the magic in it (.psd). Open this file if you want to inspect the final result a bit closer.

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10 replies
  1. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    Thanks for this great video. I’m gong to incorporate it into my workflow. If I really have a workflow!

  2. Luke Zeme
    Luke Zeme says:

    Good tutorial,

    I just wanted to suggest some halo removal methods I also wrote which are manual methods. One of them can be used in situations when the adjusting the levels is not insufficient because the halo’ed area has become too white due to a lack of information/data.

    Link to the HALO REMOVAL tutorial: http://www.lukezeme.com/methods-materials/halo-in-hdr-photography-three-removal-methods/

    The three methods I use to remove Halo in this tutorial are:
    – Using a Curves adjustment Layer
    – Using Adobe Lightroom to make adjustments to one of the original files
    – Using Adobe Photoshop’s Saturation and Brightness/Contrast adjustments


    Luke Zeme Photography


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Hands-on Photo Tips: How to remove halos in your HDR images – Klaus Herrmann creates and posts another of his fabulous video tutorials, this time with a focus on a common problem that many photographers encounter in the realm of HDR imagery. The topic of halos is something that we all face at some point or another in our work, and this great tutorial shows some very detailed tricks on how to remove these. […]

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