The latest version of Adobe Lightroom has a nifty new feature built in to help out in high contrast situations such as at sunset and sunrise (e.g. a dark foreground with much brighter bright sky). Usually you cannot get that entire brightness range into one exposure. You can try using glass filters (graduated neutral density filters) and sometimes that will work (I have discussed that elsewhere).  Or you can just shoot it in multiple images and combine them into one “high dynamic range”  (HDR) image with software.

The formula is pretty simple. Take at least three photos over the entire exposure range: (1) one for the sky, one for the foreground, and (3) one for the middle tone value. Generally these are all at least one stop apart, if not a bit more.

With the latest version of Lightroom, you can now combine them together with a couple of clicks (select the images + Right Click > Photo Merge > HDR). Lightroom processes the images and gives you a new image in a raw format (DNG). Pretty cool.  It is not as powerful as a dedicated HDR software like Photomatix, but still very impressive.

Here is an example I shot last week at Vermejo Park Ranch’s Castle Rock.  The prairie around that landmark is beautiful and changes constantly. A few weeks before the field was filled with lilies. Now, it is a sea of fragrant, almost fluorescent sage and scattered wildflowers like paintbrush. Next month it will look completely different.

Castle Rock, wildflowers and sage at sunrise, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Castle Rock, wildflowers and sage at sunrise, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. HDR (three exposures combined).