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In the last 3-6 days I noticed that the merge to HDR with either 3 or 5 bracketed image is only returning an image that is about the same as the balanced tonal quality of one of the raw images. In many there are colorful skies to be brought out and it ignores the sky completely and usually returns a white sky.
I have been able to get very good results over the last few years and now I find its easier to work on one of the raw images (the dark or balanced one) inorder to bring out the blue sky or other features I'd like to render better.
I'm using the current build
Windows 10/64 bit and classic
What exposure bracketing are you using? You may need to shoot the bracket with more under exposure if the sky is not recoverable using -Highlights. You can download the free trial of Rawdigger to check the image files for raw data highlight and shadow clipping.
It could be but I tend to undershoot my brackets by a stop or two. In early Oct I was shooting in Vermont and there was a larger difference... But I also realize that this set of shots was maybe a bit more to the dark side than the first example. The LR HDR has never been dramatic but when I gave up my NIK HDR I was please with the results being sufficient in LR.
I'm not a big technical guy, I go with what my eyes tell me and I was just wondering if I'm the only one noticing this...
If I am... then...
If it is me only then I do have another issue which could be the culprit. My Canon 80D has been having issues over the past year with exposures settings (over exposed images no matter what setting I choose) and this may be playing into tricking LR with wrong numbers being given LR from the camera...
Maybe the answer is one of these new fangled mirrorless cameras... 🙂
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The Merge to HDR has an Auto Tone checkbox. If you check that box, Lightroom will try to auto adjust the merged image. If you don't check it, then your unedited merged image could indeed look very much like the unedited middle bracket, but that doesn't mean anything. The unedited HDR image has a much too wide dynamic range to display correctly on a monitor.
Actually there is auto align, auto settings (which may be what you are thinking), Show deghost overlay, and create stack. LR has very few modifiers unlike other HDR programs out there. But they tend to be a bit extreme on the colors which is why I liked LR's HDR
Auto settings = auto tone. Everything else you do in the develop module after the merge has finished.
The quickest way to determine if there's something wrong with the bracketed image files is to examine them with Rawdigger Free Trial. It's the only way you can determine if the raw image file has highlight or shadow clipping. In the below example the heavily underexposed image file has substantial clipping in the highlights. Those areas will have very little detail in the HDR DNG file.