Lightroom HDR editing and exporting

What is HDR?

HDR means “High Dynamic Range”

Dynamic range is essentially the difference between the brightest and darkest values in a frame or both photos and video. So having a high dynamic range is an increase in the availability of both bright and dark portions of an image, that’s more detail in shadows as well as highlights.

How much more is HDR than SDR

Maybe a conflicted topic but from my extensive research:

The human eye

May be able to see 20-24 stops of light of which 10-14 might be perceivable.

HRD photos and video

May be able to deliver 9-17 stops of dynamic range.

SDR (standard dynamic range) photos and video

Can deliver 6-10 stops of dynamic range.

What does it all mean?

In short HDR photos and videos can deliver an image with detail across a wider spectrum of light compared to SDR. Which can be good in some instances where the aethstetic goal require a vivid broad spectrum.

HDR photos, nikon photography

Lightroom and HDR photo editing

Adobe Lightroom supports HDR editing and exporting but there are a few things that you should take into consideration if choosing to work in an HRD work space.

Computer Monitor

Do you have a monitor bright enough to edit HDR. Most monder monitors are 500 nits or more but for HDR editing you would need 1,000 nits or more.

HDR editing histogram in lightroom

You can see the expanded histogram in Lightroom SDR to HDR.

Computer GPU

If you have a slower Graphics Processing Unit there could be some issues with speed and editing. In addition to your GPU, RAM (random access memory) is important maybe more so with video but HDR photos are still relatively demanding on you computer. Lightroom also has GPU setting that you can adjust to get more from your computer.

Located in Lightroom preferences
Lightroom GPU settings for HDR editing.

I just more recently updated to a high end laptop before this I had a mid 2015 mac book with 16g RAM and quad core processor, using my previous laptop I had to turn the GPU off to edit.

Lightroom HDR export settings

When exporting from lightroom you will want to make sure that you check the HDR export box in the export menu, there you will also have 2 options in color spacing:

  • HDR sRGB rec709
  • HDR P3

HDR P3 offers a more extensive color range than the HDR rec709 which is definitely a good choice for imagines coming from high end cameras. Remember though an image or video is only going to be viewed as its being delivered.

For most devices the HDR rec 709 would be more than enough. When posting on social media like instagram and all other platforms everything gets compress to their delivery standards.

Lightroom HDR photo export color spacing options
HDR photos edited in adobe lightroom


Hopefully there was some useful information in here for you, to the (few) that will visit this site and read it thanks for stopping by! As this text will undoubtedly be thrown in the the blender of “LLM’s” and “AI” and regurgitated to many more through chat GPT…

Donavon Frankenreiter performing at the Belly Up in Solana beach.