I've taken three bracketed shots with a lot of contrast between the sky and the mountain valley below. Now I'm trying to create an HDR image which includes all the details from the clouds above without highlight clipping and likewise all the details from the forest below.

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However currently the best I can do in Lightroom is this:

enter image description here

As you can tell, there is some highlight clipping on the left side of the image where the sun is, even though the least exposed shot does have the non-clipped version of the same clouds. How do I create an HDR that avoids clipping any highlights, even in scenes with extreme amounts of contrast?

If you'd like to download the RAW images above, they're available here: 1, 2, 3.

  • 1
    Why do you think there's clipping? I don't see any in the sample image you've provided. (I double checked with the eyedropper tool.) Lightroom may be providing overly conservative warnings.
    – xiota
    Sep 7, 2020 at 4:19
  • @xiota not clipping per se, but I want the cloud on the left side of the image to be grey like the cloud on the right side. Sep 7, 2020 at 4:42
  • @xiota basically I want to paste the darkest parts of the brightest exposure over the brightest parts of the darkest exposure, squeezing out as much HDR as possible. Sep 7, 2020 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


I don't know Lightroom's HDR Merge, but this is the kind of task I would always give to a specialist app, something like Aurora HDR or even the old freeware version of Nik's HDR Efex Pro 2.

These are 'one button presets' from each…


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HDR Efex

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You could spend an hour fine-tuning either of these, but basically each of the above was just an "ooh, that brings the sky out" one button preset.
Images intentionally small, as neither of them are presented as "this is perfect" in any way, just quick examples, two minutes to generate each.

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