Creating Faux HDR in Lightroom – the New and the Old

I was working on one of my Lightroom chapters and I got to the section where I described how to do a faux HDR look using the sliders in the Basic panel when it hit me, the sliders I normally use for creating the effect are not there anymore. In LR3 there is a Recovery, Fill Light and Brightness sliders but those are gone, having been replaced by a Highlights, Shadows, and Whites sliders. I then remembered that my buddy Matt Kloskowski had written a post on his Lightroom Killer Tips blog about new HDR presets using LR4 so I figured I would play around with the sliders and see what I could do. I fiddled with different settings and got close but I couldn’t quite pull off the same look that I was able to get using LR3. Then I downloaded Matt’s presets just to see if he was doing anything different than I was. There were some slight variances but overall, he was doing the same thing in his preset that I was.

Here’s my original image with just some basic processing.

Now here is the same image using Matt’s HDR Look (Strong) preset.

I like it but it’s not quite like the old version. I believe the reason is that Adobe really tweaked the Highlights and Shadows sliders to behave very differently from their old counterparts (Recovery and Fill Light). That isn’t to say that they did bad things. Actually far from it. The new sliders are much improved and allow for expanded recovery of highlights and shadows without looking over-processed. But I think that may be part of my issue with them when trying to do the faux HDR look.

Fortunately this doesn’t mean I lose my HDR look. That’s because LR4 supports the older LR3 process, which includes the use of the Recovery and Fill Light sliders. To change to the older process go to the Camera Calibration panel and click on 2012 (Current) and change it to 2010.

After that, you can go back to the Basic panel and make changes using the LR3 develop settings, which include Recovery and Fill Light. Here’s a re-process of the same image using my Over-The-Top HDR settings.

I don’t know if it’s better, but it is different and I like it more than any version that I can create using the new LR4 adjustment sliders. There’s another benefit to having access to the older LR3 process and that is that it makes all of your older presets still usable. That’s good news for many of you that love to download presets for your Lightroom processing but were afraid that they wouldn’t work if you upgrade to version 4.

Speaking of Presets, if you would like a copy of my Over-The-Top HDR preset, just click the link below and download the zip file.

To install, unzip it to your desktop, go to the LR Develop module, right-click inside the Presets panel, click Import… and select the unzipped file.

Jeff’s Over-The-Top HDR Preset

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