Using Lightroom Smart Collections to Organize HDRs
June 30, 2015
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Nicole Young (@nicolesy) wrote a great post over at Photofocus last week that showed how to leverage Smart Collections to organize your HDR-merge and Pano-merge images. This week, I wanted to follow-up on that post with a slight variation for those of us that use Photomatix for our HDR work instead of the Lightroom HDR merge.

Not using Photomatix for HDR? You can download a free trail of Photomatix on the Photomatix Download page. The trial of Photomatix Pro is fully functional and never expires, but adds a watermark to final images.

Ready to buy? I’ve worked with HDRSoft to get Lightroom Fanatic readers a special discount code for Photomatix. When you’re ready to purchase Photomatix, go here and use the coupon code LightroomFanatic to get 15% off!


The biggest difference when using Photomatix is the file type attribute used in the Smart Collections dialog. Photomatix does not support the default DNG file type that Lightroom uses. Instead, Photomatix defaults to TIFF, although JPEG is also an option. You specify the file type on the Photomatix export dialog.

lightroom 6 photomatix hdr

Lightroom Fanatic > Photomatix Export Dialog

The Output Format drop down at the bottom determines the file type. I always use TIFF 16-bit as my file type to provide the greatest quality output. For the other attribute used to create the Smart Collection, Nicole uses the text “hdr”, which I also use by specifying a suffix that also includes the text “hdr”. If you use a different suffix, just be sure that the suffix on the export dialog matches the filename attribute used to create your collection.

To create the Smart Collection, click the + next to the Collections tab and select Create Smart Collection, or navigate to Library > New Smart Collection. On the Create Smart Collection dialog, specify the File Type of TIFF and the Filename as containing HDR. Click the Create button to create your collection.

lr6 hdr smart collection

Lightroom Fanatic > HDR Smart Collection

If you have any HDR images from Photomatix in your catalog, they will show up in your new smart collection, making it extremely easy to find them! If you don’t see any images, make go back and check your file type and names in the collection properties to make sure they match the options you use when you create your HDR  images.

lightroom HDR photomatix smart collection

Lightroom Fanatic > HDR Smart Collection

Again, a big thank you to Nicole for the original post!

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