Real Estate Photography
September 6, 2021

Tips To Edit HDR Photos For Real Estate Photography

Ann Alex
About Author

In the previous article, we talked about what is HDR photography and the tools and tips required to master it. This time let us dive deep into how to edit HDR photos. As mentioned earlier, to bring out HDR in photos, you need to click multiple images of the same real estate object at different exposures. The exposure range can vary from 2 photos lying in the -1.5 to +1.5 span or 5 pictures in -6.0 to +6.0 if your camera and patience allow. Once the images are clicked, they need to be merged and edited using software because a higher number of photos can lead to poor alignment or ghosting. We have curated a list of HDR photo editing platforms to guide you to edit HDR photos. They include HDR Photoshop editing tips and suggested HDR photos iPhone apps.

How to Edit Real Estate HDR Photos

These are the top platforms you can consider for real estate HDR photo editing.

I. Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is a cloud-based photo editing platform that is popularly used for editing HDR photos. Here are the benefits of using Lightroom:

  • Lightroom is a free, powerful photo editor that produces natural-looking HDR images.
  • Even if you click bracketed sequences handheld, Lightroom will auto-align them.
  • Lightroom saves the final HDR image as a DNG file, which is smaller but carries ample information just like RAW files.

Follow these steps to create mesmerizing real estate HDR photos using Lightroom.

1. How to Merge Photos

  • Select the images in Lightroom Classic.
  • Right-click, go to Photo Merge and select HDR.
  • Select the following options if necessary in the HDR Merge Preview dialog:
  • Auto Align: If the images move from shot to shot, Auto Align will make them uniform. We recommend using a tripod to get steady shots.
  • Auto Tone: This option will set a tone for your image to start the editing process.
  • De-ghosting: While clicking pictures for bracketing, if there are moving objects, e.g., a bird in the sky, then after merging, you can end up with a semi-transparent ghost of a bird in different spots across the sky. To fix this, Lightroom has a de-ghosting option, namely None, Low, Medium, and High. Start with low to fix minor movements in the picture, then move on to the others if necessary.

Click the Merge button once you are done. Lightroom will save the image as a 32-bit DNG file with -HDR attached to the file name. Now you can move on to fine tuning and image enhancement to bring out the HDR in photos.

The following 3 images are clicked at different exposures.

This is what the final merged HDR image in Lightroom looks like.


2. Editing Exposure

As you know, exposure is the amount of light that enters the camera sensor when a picture is clicked. The more exposure, the lighter the photo will look. The exposure range will be broader with HDR photos because several images clicked in various exposures are merged. In the Develop section, drag the exposure bar and choose a number that strikes a midpoint between the light and dark points.

3. White and Black Balance

White and black balance adjust colors to match the light source’s color so that white parts of the photo appear white and the black parts black. Double click on the terms white and black to automatically set them. Otherwise, adjust the whites and blacks manually to bring out the HDR in photos.

4. Editing Clarity

Don’t confuse clarity with sharpness in HDR photos. While sharpness increases the contrast between dark and light tones, clarity increases the contrast between middle tones. Drag the clarity slider to bring out detail in midtone areas.

5. Vibrance

Vibrance cleverly increases the intensity of muted colors while leaving saturated colors alone. This edit makes the real estate photo appear more natural and even and enhances the properties of HDR in photos. Adjust vibrance in Lightroom to bring out the rich colors.

II. Photoshop

Photoshop, the king of the Adobe Suite, is an all-encompassing photo editor. Here are some HDR Photoshop editing tips to get you started.

1. Merging Photos

  • Open Photoshop, Choose File, Automate, and click on Merge to HDR Pro.
  • A Merge To HDR dialog box will open. Browse and Add Open Files to upload images in various exposures.
  • Select Auto-Align if you shot the images handheld, and click Ok.
  • A second Merge to HDR Photoshop dialog box appears.

The following 3 images are clicked at different exposures.


This is what the final merged HDR image in Photoshop looks like.


2. Choose your Preset select the Mode to 16 Bit or 32 Bit.

3. 16 Bit

If you are choosing 16 Bit, you can adjust:

  • Edge Glow: Drag the Radius slider in Edge Glow to add a glow to the edges of the photo. Strength will determine how strong the dynamic range in your photo is.
  • Tone & Detail: This will alter the overall tonality and colors of the image.
  • Advanced features such as Shadows, Highlights, Vibrance, and Saturation.

However, we would advise you to choose 32 Bit to make your photos look professionally edited.

4. 32 Bit

Once you choose 32 Bit mode, click Tone in ACR for all your editing to be done in Adobe Camera Roll. Now either manually adjust the White balance, Temperate, Tint, Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadow, Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation, or select Auto to get it all done automatically.

Wish to learn more about Photoshop editing? Check out this article.

III. Aurora HDR

Aurora HDR is one of the best software on the market with its AI-powered engine, variety of presets and filters, and intuitive interface. Here is how you can edit your photos using Aurora HDR.

1. Merging Photos

Drag and drop your photos of different exposures into Aurora HDR. Click Auto Align and Ghost Reduction if needed and Merge.

2. Image Enhancement

Enhance your image through Lens Correction, Cropping, Presets, Highlights, Vignette, Brightness, and more to get the best version of your HDR photo.

IV. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo is an HDR photos iPhone app that also works on iPad, macOS, and Windows. Here is how you can edit and bring out the HDR in photos for real estate.

1. Merging Photos

Open Affinity Photo, got File, and choose New HDR Merge. Click Add to upload your images of different exposures. Choose Auto-Align, Automatically Remove Ghosts, and Noise Reduction if needed. Click Ok to merge.

  1. Choose your Preset among Natural, Detailed, Cool, etc.
  2. Adjust your Tone Mapping, Exposure, Shadows, Highlights, etc., to bring out the warm beauty of your HDR photo.


HDR photography is ideal for still objects, so it works perfectly in real estate. If you struggle with striking a balance between pictures that are washed out and too dark, then you should try HDR photos. They can make your home interiors, and exteriors look ravishing and inviting to homebuyers.

However, if you feel you are spending too much time editing photos, Styldod is here to help. Our team can merge and edit your HDR photos in 24 - 48 hours at reasonable prices. We also offer  image enhancement, occupied to vacant, object removal, and day to dusk services to help you sell the listing. If you are keen to learn some video editing tips, click here.
Styldod is a design-tech company that aims to simplify real estate marketing and help agents present homes in their most favorable light online by reimagining and automating the listing photography process. Having begun as a virtual staging company, today, Styldod has affordable and best-in-class products and services for every facet of real estate marketing and photography. Styldod’s suite of services include virtual staging, image enhancements, floor plans, virtual renovation, 3D renders, 360 degree virtual tours, and Matterport virtual staging, to name a few. We're trusted by over 10,000 realtors from all over the US and from companies like ReMax, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams. Know more about us at https://www.styldod.com.

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