Automated HDR Panoramas


Today’s Question: I often capture composite panoramas, and in many cases I will create these in HDR [high dynamic range]. Currently, I assemble an HDR for each frame of the panorama, and then assemble those HDR images into the final panorama. Is there a way to automate this process, such as with an action in Photoshop?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can assemble an HDR Panorama very easily in a single step using either Lightroom Classic or Adobe Camera Raw with the HDR Panorama option for Photo Merge.

More Detail: With Lightroom Classic or Adobe Camera Raw you can assemble bracketed exposures into a high dynamic range (HDR) image, you can assemble individual frames into a composite panorama, and you can also assemble an HDR panorama.

With an HDR panorama instead of capturing individual frames across a scene that you’ll stitch together into a seamless panorama, you would capture bracketed exposures for an HDR image for each frame of the panorama. Assembling the result used to mean that you first needed to create an HDR image based on each frame, and then assemble those HDR images into the final panorama. Now, however, you can process the images in a single step.

To get started in Lightroom Classic simply select all images captured for the HDR panorama, which would include all bracketed images for each frame of the panorama. For example, if you bracketed each image with five exposures, and the panorama consisted of four frames, you would have a total of twenty images to select. After selecting the images go to the menu and choose Photo > Photo Merge > HDR Panorama.

For Photoshop users you can start by selecting the raw captures in Adobe Bridge, then double-click one of the selected photos to open them in Camera Raw. On the filmstrip select all the images, and then click the “more” button (the three dots icon) that appears at the top-right of the thumbnail when you hover your mouse over it. From the popup menu that appears choose “Merge to HDR Panorama”.

In the dialog that appears you can configure the settings for the panorama. Note that when using the HDR Panorama option the Align option is automatically enabled and you can’t turn it off. Deghost is disabled, and can’t be enabled. After configuring the other settings click the Merge button and the full HDR panorama will be assembled.