Shooting and Editing Photos Part 7: HDR Photos with Moving Subjects

Shooting and Editing Photos Part 7: HDR Photos with Moving Subjects

Shooting and Editing Photos Part 7: HDR Photos with Moving Subjects

This is an HDR photograph edited using the techniques described in this guide. This photo was a challenge to edit because of the moving cars – you can’t combine three pictures worth of moving objects and have everything come out looking good. Here’s what the cars looked like immediately after I ran Photomatix to combine the three images:


Strange looking cars…

So how do you deal with it?

Edit and Open Your Files

First, take your “0” exposure and reedit it as a single RAW. Part 4 talks all about how to do that.

Next, open your HDR file that has the problems in Photoshop. Then open your newly edited single RAW HDR file in a separate window in Photoshop. Here’s what you’ll see:


Both the HDR problem file and the newly edited single RAW file are open in Photoshop


Match the Exposures

Working with your single RAW file, use a combination of curves, brightness adjustments, and exposure adjustments to get the problem area to match as best as you can. It doesn’t matter if it looks “good” or not, just that it looks as close as possible to the image with the problems.


Select the Problem Area

Select the cars. Use a combination of quick mask mode and the quick selection tool to select, and refine the edge so it blends nicely against the background.

Quick Mask Mode

Using Quick Mask Mode to select the problem area


Copy and paste

Hit CTRL+C to copy your selection. Move back to the HDR image with the problems and hit CTRL+SHIFT+V to paste your selection into place.

Paste into place

The cars are pasted in place as a new layer


Duplicate your new layer several times

At this point you’re well on your way to getting the job done, but if you stop here you’re still going to have some issues. Here’s what the cars look like at this point:

Still some issues

Still some issues…

To fix this, duplicate your new layer several times until the cars look good.

Duplicate the Layer

I’ve duplicated the layer until the cars look as they should.


Merge your duplicated layers

Select all your layers except the background layer, right click, and hit “Merge Layers”. Here’s what you’ll see:

Merged Layers

Merge the layers so only two remain


Double check the exposures on each layer

You can now easily compare the exposures by clicking the layer visibility eye. Edit your cars layer further if there are still some big differences. It’s important to match the exposures as best as you can.


Smooth the edges

Select the boundary of your new layer and refine the edge. Make the transition as smooth as possible while taking care to avoid selecting the problem area:

Smooth transition

Smooth the transition

Hit OK and delete this selection.


Merge the visible layers

Merge the visible layers, edit your photo as you normally would, and voila! You have an HDR image with realistic looking moving objects!

No more issues

No more issues

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Comment ( 1 )

  • Liz

    I have just discovered your blog via an article on the Huffington Post. I found it very informative especially as I have just purchased Photoshop, which has caused me to start pulling my hair out, especially every time I see the word ‘layer’. Thanks for writing your blog!

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