Photoshop Tutorial: Combine Multiple Exposures of the same Scene

Combining multiple exposures of the same scene can be used to create stunning high-dynamic-range (HDR) images. HDR images have a wider range of brightness values than standard images, which can capture more detail in both the shadows and highlights. This can be especially useful for landscape photography, where there is often a large difference in brightness between the sky and the foreground.

Step 1: Take Exposure Brackets

To create HDR images, you will need to take a series of exposures of the same scene at different exposures. This is called bracketing. The number of exposures you need to take will depend on the scene and the desired dynamic range. For most landscapes, three or five exposures are usually sufficient.

Step 2: Open Images in Photoshop

Once you have taken your exposure brackets, you can import them into Adobe Photoshop. There are a few different ways to do this, but the easiest way is to use the File > Open dialog box and select all of your images at once.

Step 3: Stack, Align, and Order Images

Before you can blend your exposures, you need to stack, align, and order them in Photoshop. This will help to ensure that the images are blended smoothly and that the details in the shadows and highlights are preserved.

To stack the images, click on the first image in the Layers panel and then hold down the Shift key while clicking on the last image in the panel. This will select all of the images. Then, right-click on one of the selected images and choose Stack > Merge Stack.

To align the images, I recommend using the Automatic Edit > Align Layers command. This will automatically align the edges of the images and remove any vignetting.

To order the images, drag and drop them in the Layers panel so that they are in the order that you want them to be blended.

Step 4: Use “Apply Image” to Exposure Blend

To blend your exposures, you can use the Apply Image command. This command allows you to blend the images in different ways, depending on your needs.

To use Apply Image, click on the image that you want to blend in the Layers panel and then choose Image > Apply Image. In the Apply Image dialog box, select the image that you want to blend with from the Source drop-down menu. Then, select the blend mode that you want to use from the Mode drop-down menu. I recommend using Blend If mode for most HDR images.

Step 5: Refine with Blend-If and Masking

The Blend If mode can be a bit tricky to use, so you may need to experiment with different settings to get the results that you want. You can also use layer masks to fine-tune the blend between the images.

To use layer masks, click on the mask icon next to the image that you want to blend in the Layers panel. Then, use a black brush to paint over the areas of the image that you don’t want to blend. This will hide those areas of the image.

Bonus Step: Adjust Color and Contrast

Once you have blended your exposures, you may need to adjust the color and contrast of the image. You can do this by using the Levels and Curves adjustment layers.

Conclusion

Combining multiple exposures of the same scene is a great way to create stunning HDR images. By following these steps, you can learn how to create your own HDR images in Adobe Photoshop.

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