Long-Exposure HDR – How to Create it in Post

In this video tutorial, I will show you how to create a fake long-exposure HDR image in Photomatix. This technique helps you get around the difficulty of creating exposure series using ND filters, it allows you to create a long exposure HDR even if you don’t have such a filter, and it allows you to only render the long-exposure effect on some parts of your image while the rest of the action is frozen by shorter shutter speeds.

Here’s the comparison between the HDR image created with a single 9-shot exposure series (left) and the long exposure HDR (right) created through the technique explained in the video below. I used my new fully non-destructive workflow to make this complex image easy to handle.

This video is an excerpt of my upcoming course Off-Limits Photos Workflow Secrets. You can get this course as a free bonus if you purchase the Complete Photography Bundle 2016 before October 19, 2016 noon PDT through this link.

In a Nutshell…

You can create a ‘fake’ long exposure simply by shooting lots of photos with the same exact exposure settings and framing. That’s easily done in Photoshop by loading the images into layers, converting the stack into a smart object and changing the stack mode to ‘Median’.

But if you want to create a long exposure HDR, this method does not work because it does not choose the pixels based on exposure (as it’s done by HDR software). Instead it merely takes the pixel in the middle of the exposure spectrum for that pixel position in the image. So, if the majority of the pixels in a particular position is blown out, the resulting pixel produced by the smart object will also be blown out.

Here’s what the resulting image looks in Photoshop (42 images loaded as layers, converted to smart object and stack mode set to ‘Median’):


The way around this is to simply feed all your images into Photomatix. Learn more about the details in the video above.


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