To create High Dynamic Range pictures, you need at least 3 different exposures of the same photo, but in this Photoshop tutorial you will learn how to create HDR from a single image.

This technique will make the bright portions of the image darker, and dark portions of the image lighter. This also gives the image a lot more realistic look.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Photoshop
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Estimated Completion Time: 15 Minutes

Step 01

First of all, open any photo that you want to convert to HDR.

Step 02

Now, go to Image> Adjustments> Shadow/Highlights. Set the “Shadow” and “Highlights” amount to 40-50%

Step 03

Duplicate the layer, then go to Image> Adjustments> Desaturate (for CS3 users, choose “Image> Adjustments>Black & White” and click “OK”).

After that, change the layer blending to “Hard Light“.

Step 04

Let’s add some extra color to the picture. Duplicate the original picture (we will call it Blur), and put it on top of the other layers.

Next go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, set the Radius around 40 pixels.

Change the layer blending to “Soft Light“.

Final Result


This is quite an easy Photoshop tutorial to create a HDR photos without the actual (time-taking) HDR process. Download the .psd file from here.

About the Author: Alex Roman

I'm a 24-year old independent graphic artist and architect based in Bucharest and also the co-owner of iCanBeCREATIVE. I specialize in branding for small businesses and startups: logos, websites, flyers, posters; mostly everything a brand may need to put the word out there in a professional way.

I really love what I do. Want to hire me? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

  • bendol:

    wow .. . this is new technic for me to make fake HDR . .. . thank you

  • Rotoscope:

    Brilliant! I did a render in CS and it looks great. Thank you, Alex!

  • naveen:

    Great technique bro, i like it

  • Tim:

    Great tutorial! Really nice result

  • chang:


  • Deee:

    Great tutorial! Easy to follow and the results are excellent!

  • Parker:

    I have to say, the HDR effect looks much better with dark colored pictures. I tried it on a bright picture, and it didn’t look as nice.

  • sudam:

    thnx buddy….cool tutorial…

  • Silvia:

    TE IUBEEESC pentru tutorialul asta…stiu ca suna dubios :)) dar chiar am cautat muuuuult asta, un coleg de munca mi-a zis ca imi dezvaluie secretul daca ii calc 10 camasi :))) yep tough life, dar acum sunt super happy ca pot sa ii dau peste nas…graciaaaaaas

  • seo:

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  • techtuton:

    nice piece of work. :)

  • Reza:

    this very amazing ! thx man :)

  • ririe widjajantie:

    really do <3 it!
    simple..n amazing result…

  • Chan Pore:

    Hello.This article was really fascinating, particularly since I was looking for thoughts on this issue last Wednesday.

  • Terrilyn Canedo:

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  • Balerie:

    So simple, but yet very amazing. Thank you for this tut. It made me get an ‘A’ in my digital graphics class! :D

  • Hanan alawadh:

    Thats Great job , keep it up :)

  • steph:


  • Ulises Bolivar:


  • kreatywny-projekt:

    CS5 has already a HDR Tool that You can use very easy. But the efect achived in this tutorial is way better.

  • Ronald:

    I just have a question. For Step 3, do you duplicate the original or the “Shadow/Highlights” layer?

  • Nicolette:

    Excellent tutorial, simple and effective. Thank you very much.

    To enhance the effect, I may add, when necessary, 2 steps:
    1) Adjustements->Shadows/Highlights: increase Highlights
    2) Filters->Sharpen->Smart Sharpen: increase sharpness between 20 and 40% with a high value radius, according to need

  • Dona:

    Thank you for the tut–awesome effect!

  • Rachana:

    Nice tutorial
    very quick effect.. :)

  • Dinesh:

    very quick and nice tutorial..

  • Jordan Gray:

    Absolutely amazing thank-you so much!

  • Nepal:

    Nice effect, works great. thanks

  • sam:

    Thanks mate works great.

  • MT:


  • Michael:

    Very well scoped out, outlined, and written tutorial here Alex.

    This worked out just as you described.

    I’m a bit curious though, as you’ve titled it “…CS5 Tutorial” — why this way versus CS5’s built in “Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning” Granted, there are a slew of sliders and adjustments presented in the interface, but no need for creation of additional layers/files.

    Either way will create a nice enough HDR’d pix when multiple exposures are not available, I’m simply curious as to the reason for your route taken.

    Thanks again for a great post.

  • Misscute:

    Amazing results..
    Thank u so much for this tutorial
    and if u may I’ll translate it to Arabic so other pepole will learn from u
    best wishes ..

  • Ashocka:

    This is great, thank you!

  • joka232:

    wow dude you made it so clear what u need to do its cool thanks for this tip!

  • Vibe Tutorials:

    Cool tutorial, I don’t really understand how useful this effect is though. But it looks cool.

    But I tried it. When I got to the blur part I was kind of confused, but then I saw the colors contribute back to the original colors some. Then I was amazed!

    I honestly couldn’t tell the different until I look at my own work though. Nice tutorial. This will come into use soon I bet :D.

  • Gem Webb:

    Great tutorial. Will help my content creating for tourism.

  • Ferreira Dani:

    Best quick cheat HDR tutorial yet. Easy to follow, was able to do it with no mistakes in 5 min. Very well written.

  • Andrew:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I tried your method and got these results. I had loads of fun playing with different opacity settings.

  • Michael Plant:

    GREAT tutorial! Honestly I have read at least 10 tutorials regarding HDR in Photoshop and this one is by far the simplest method and produces the best results!!

  • Nikky:

    great tutorial. Simple and effective :x

  • Miaowlicious:

    Woohoo thankyou SO much! Glad I found this :O)

  • Warren:

    ever know there’s a simpler way of doing HDR liked image. thanks for sharing.

  • Sarah:

    Thank you for sharing this I will give it a try…
    Again Great tutorial!
    kep them comming man!!!

  • Scott:

    Thank you … verrrry easy to follow and very helpful! :)

  • Jenna H.:

    thanks for this wonderful blog post! it makes HDR seem not so intimidating.I’m going to try it now.

  • Wiliam Waith:

    Thats a great tutorial. I tried it out and I am very impressed with the result. I will be using this method more often!

  • Danielle:

    I tried this for the first time today and the end result was amazing.