Shooting HDR Photos With Adobe Lightroom Mobile

You probably know I’ve been a big fan of Lightroom mobile lately. My phone has become a major part of my photography. I’m realizing where it’s place is, and that I don’t always have to pull out my “big-boy” camera. But managing those photos has been a problem – and Lightroom Mobile has helped me finally figure out how to integrate the phone photos, with my main photo library.

But, it’s pretty clear that Adobe has been trying to be more than just a way to manage and edit photos on the phone – they’re trying to be the camera you take those photos with as well. And they just stepped it up a notch on the capture/camera side in LR Mobile, by adding in-camera HDR merging (iOS and… yep… Android too). Now, in addition to the Auto and Professional modes, you’ll see there’s an HDR shooting mode as well.

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How HDR in Lightroom Mobile Works?

The way it works is the camera in Lightroom Mobile looks at the scene and figures out a range in which it falls in to. Then it takes 3 full resolution DNG photos to capture that range. Finally, it aligns them, merges, deghosts, and tonemaps them right inside the app.

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It’s all a pretty simple process and doesn’t interrupt your shooting. From what I’ve seen, it does take a minute for LR Mobile to merge/process the HDR file until you can edit it. But that’s about it.

As you can imagine, dynamic range has always been a problem on our mobile phones. I have times where I know I can get the same photo with my phone, and times where I know that I need my Sony camera. Whenever I’m shooting in to, or even close to, the sun is one of those times I usually pull out the big camera to get the shot.

The photo you saw above (and below) would have been really difficult to capture with my phone. But with HDR mode, I was able to get a lot of detail in the trees without totally blowing out the sky. Pretty cool stuff!


A Few More Updates

Adobe snuck in a few more updates to LR Mobile. Things like:

  1. Exporting originals from the app
  2. Speed review/rating gestures to speed up the review process
  3. And a new Force Touch widget to let you get to the LR Mobile camera faster.

And of course you can read more about it, and all of the supported cameras, and operating systems, from Josh Haftel, over on Adobe’s Lightroom Journal website.

Have a good one!



Carol Smith

I have my LR Mobile all up to date but still only get two modes: auto and professional, not HDR. Any suggestions?

Debbie S

Carol – At this time, for iOS users, the HDR mode requires a device that can capture DNG files, such as an iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone SE, or iPad Pro 9.7″.

For Android users, at this time, only the Samsung S7, S7 Edge, Google Pixel, and Pixel XL are supported.



Have you tried uninstalling and re-installing the LR app? Some users have had the same problem and that has helped them.

Jay Gosdin

Oh no. I unistalled and installed and lost all my collections? How do I get them back! And I also do not have the HDR!

Carol Smith

SUCCESS! I uninstalled and re-installed and it worked! At first I, too, couldn’t find my collections but soon figured it out. All is well with the world!
Thanks for help!

Christopher Thorpe

The HDR tool seems to work really well. Pulls up shadows, even controls the noise. This is impressive. Using this on my 7+ really does make for a killer combo.


Will the “Auto” setting be intelligent enough to do an HDR take when necessary? Or does the HDR take only happens when selected manually?

Doug Hawthorne

Matt – I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled Lightroom mobile app on my iPhone 6 plus and I still don’t see the HDR shooting mode. What am I missing?


Really looking forward to updating my phone, shall love this. As far as Lightroom Mobile is concerned is it possible to search for a photo on your iphone on LRM via a keyword? I know you can do this with Photovia and am hoping this is possible through lightroom mobile – still debating which App to go for.

Matt K

Hey Catherine – No, I don’t believe you can search on keywords in it yet. Photovia is cool, but there’s no two way sync and it doesn’t have editing controls or a camera. So it’s definitely not apples to apples comparison. If you’re organizing your photos in LR then use LR Mobile. If you’re organizing in ON1, then use PhotoVia.

Doug Y

Thanks for the write up on the HDR mode. I just installed the update and ready to try it out soon!


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