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Thread: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

  1. #1
    whited3's Avatar
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    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Not sure I've got the terminology right but would someone please explain to me how to achieve the following in CS5.

    I have two identical RAW images with the same f stop but one under exposed and the other over exposed. I want to blend these two images so that I can use the correctly exposed parts of each to create a final image that is exposed correctly overall. ie I want to see the into the cave and the rain forest on the right.

    I suppose there's two parts to the question:

    1) How to deal with each in ACR? I would assume I would need to do lens correction at least.
    2) What to do in CS5?

    I think what I need is two adjustment layers, each made up of one of the images; but I don't know how to achieve this.

    Thanks in advance.

    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures
    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

  2. #2

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    2 penny for the guess..

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Mark

    Maybe this link is what you looking for ? ( are explaining better than me )

    http://layersmagazine.com/exposure-b...photoshop.html

    Leo

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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Open both images. In one file create a new blank layer. Go to the other file select all and copy, then paste that in the blank layer in the other file. Then you have both images in one file. Then you just need to start blending the layers. Best to copy each layer and just blend the copies (hide the original layers) then you have backups of the layers if you need them. So just mask or erase each layer as you would like and adjust the overall opacity of the layers to build your final image.

    There may be better more selective ways than just using a brush or eraser but above is the way that I do it. Neil

  4. #4
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Do you mean like this?

    Easy.

    1. Load both files to CS5. Select and copy all of the dark one and paste it onto the lighter one. You should have two layers with the dark on top.

    2. Use the rectangle marquee tool to draw a box on the right side half of the image, then use the round marquee tool to include the water spout. That will preserve the exposure on those parts of the shot.

    3. Use refine edge (top of screen button) and feather the selection to graduate the transition.

    4. Add a 'layer mask' using the icon at the very bottom of the screen. The left side will go brighter, and if you did the feathering right it won't show.

    5. I also reselected the selection and inverted it, then used adjustments/highlight shadows to bring up a bit more detail in the darker areas on the left.

    Took me about a minute to do this. Much quicker than doing all that painting in layer masks business.

    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

  5. #5
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Couple of other things.

    An ND grad used on it's side might have made a big difference at the time of shooting and avoided editing. Although that water spout is also very bright, and it might have been tricky to include it.

    You could have adjusted the exposure in both RAW files before outputing, to get more non-destructive editing done before going to PS and doing the blending. In particluar, fill light in RAW would have bought out a lot of detail.

    This is quite interesting (more interesting than painting my house) Would you like to post both the RAW files here? I wouldn't mind having a proper go at this. Try it yourself. http://www.mediafire.com/myfiles.php

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    whited3's Avatar
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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    Would you like to post both the RAW files here?
    Here you are Rob.

    http://www.mediafire.com/?7sfd9d0sgxaxpdi
    http://www.mediafire.com/?dhr82g4e5a25i8s

  7. #7
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Hi Mark

    Many thanks for posting those. I must confess that I have learnt something very useful here. I have never bothered before with blending multiple exposures, but it is quite effective when done in Photoshop. I used the RAW files and basically did the same process that I detailed above, but I also did some slight tweaking in RAW edit. I think the result is a little better than the JPEG edit I did earlier. I think I got the water spout more subdued.

    It's an interesting process. Does anyone else do this?

    Have you tried this yourself, Mark?

    My edit of Marks' RAW files.
    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    I think I am going to run out tomorrow and shoot several different images using the one over, one under format and then try this technique...looks quite interesting and I can see where it would work in a number of situations.

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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Rob,

    That's great work. I've had a go this morning but the final image seemed washed out to me. I'll have another pay this arvo.

    Could I ask you to add a bit more detail to your process above please? We can be a bit thick here in the land downunder

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    whited3's Avatar
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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Thank Leo. This is a very good explanation.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoLeo View Post
    Mark

    Maybe this link is what you looking for ? ( are explaining better than me )

    http://layersmagazine.com/exposure-b...photoshop.html

    Leo

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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    Rob,

    That's great work.

    Could I ask you to add a bit more detail to your process above please? We can be a bit thick here in the land downunder
    Mark don't tell them we're thick down here , I prefer to think of it as we're newer younger and just haven't been around as long to accumulate these skills....

    I will however add the 'we're thick' excuse to my arsenal of reasons why I cannot be trusted with a recipe book in the kitchen, I needed a few more

  12. #12
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    Rob,

    That's great work. I've had a go this morning but the final image seemed washed out to me. I'll have another pay this arvo.

    Could I ask you to add a bit more detail to your process above please? We can be a bit thick here in the land downunder
    Mark

    There are several ways to do this. All are quite easy once you get the hang of it. Which method you choose will depend upon the nature and extent of the contrast changes in the shot. For your original shot it was mostly a question of a left/right side difference across the image in exposure. So, the easiest way to correct that is to simply select the area of the shot that is OK (the waterspout and the right side of the image), feather it, and add a layer mask, which will phase out the unselected area and reveal the layer underneath which has the lighter area with more exposure. In situations such as this you don't need to do any more.

    If the shots were to have a very straightforward exposure difference - say a landscape with a dark bottom half and a bright top half, and with a nice neat, level line between the two you could just use the grad tool in PS to blend the two together. Have a look at this tutorial. there is no commentary, but I think it's easy to follow. I didn't use this method for your shot because although you have a strong difference between left and right sides of the image that needed correcting, you also have that bright waterspout and lightenening the exposure on that would have made it worse. So, I had to correct the left side, but exclude the waterspout. To do that I used the marquee tools.



    If your shot has a more complex exposure difference, with exposure differences in several areas of the shot (let us say a portrait with a very bright background all around the subject) then you need to do the 'painting in a layer mask' method, which allows you to be more selective in what you change. This tutorial by Gavin Hoey demonstrates it very well in his shot of Bath.


  13. #13
    whited3's Avatar
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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Well I've learnt a few things today thanks to the help provided here. I'm reasonably happy with this effort although the conversion to jpg has darkened it a bit.

    C&C please?

    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

  14. #14
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    Well I've learnt a few things today thanks to the help provided here.

    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures
    TBH, so have I. I do try to get exposure right in the camera, and for that I use ND grad filters extensively. But you can't always do that effectively, and I can see that these blending methods could be very useful to me in future.

    Your blend looks very good. It is still a bit dark in places, but I think you will get that sorted with a bit of practice. Given the obviously extreme contrast conditions of this scene, I think you have done very well.

    I for one would be quite interested to see other examples of different shots from others.

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    whited3's Avatar
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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Rob,

    Those two tutorials you posted were excellent, especially the second one. Thanks very much.

  16. #16
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by whited3 View Post
    Rob,

    Those two tutorials you posted were excellent, especially the second one. Thanks very much.
    Mark

    Although the blending works well, the actual shooting of the different exposures may present some difficulties. Obviously, action shots are out of the question due to subject movement. But landscapes should mostly be suitable.

    Something that I discovered by accident may help. If you set your bracketing to the required number of f-stops, normally you would need to press the shutter three times to get your three shots. However, if you set the bracketing then set the auto timer, the camera should count down the timer then shoot all three exposures automatically in a very short space of time. I just tried it and got three different exposures within 1 second. I mention this because Gavin mentions in the video of Bath that he couldn't use a tripod so had to do hand-held. If you need to use the alignment feature in PS it's best to have as little movement between shots as possible. That means you want as little time as possible to elapse between shots.

    I think this works for all Canon cameras - it certainly works on my 5D Mk2, and it worked on my 50D. Not sure about Nikon. I use this method even when I use the tripod, as it reduces camera shake. I was hoping it would also work on mirror-lockup, but it doesn't, and you have to press the shutter three times even though it's set on self-timer.

  17. #17
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    I just found a better video tutorial for the blending of a landscape. This one is by Robert Rodriguez. He has a good technique for blending in the areas where the two contrasts meet, by using a sliding scale amount of opacity of the brush tool. Have a look.

    He also does his different exposures from the same RAW file, so there is no need to align the images. But I think that in most cases you will get a better result where you take the different expsoures in camera. However, getting them from the same RAW gets around the problem of action shots and portraits, where you only have one file due to subject movement.

    This is a very interesting thread, Mark. Thanks for starting it.


  18. #18
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    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    I must confess I have a wee stash of ' how tos' on this subject printed off - I have tried a couple of times from the 1 raw file.
    My results are not very pleasing so far, but worth persevering with...
    I will try and find an example to show you tomorrow - the subject was stage work and trying to show the orchestra pit without blowing out the stage or show the stage without a black orchestra pit.... Tbc

  19. #19
    rob marshall

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by wilgk View Post
    I must confess I have a wee stash of ' how tos' on this subject printed off - I have tried a couple of times from the 1 raw file.
    My results are not very pleasing so far, but worth persevering with...
    I will try and find an example to show you tomorrow - the subject was stage work and trying to show the orchestra pit without blowing out the stage or show the stage without a black orchestra pit.... Tbc
    In the interests of serious research... blah, blah, blah... you could post the RAW here http://www.mediafire.com/myfiles.php and we can all have a wee practice?

  20. #20
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    Here's my edit on this wonderful image:

    CS5 layers - Blending two images with different exposures

    and here's what I did:
    Using Lightroom:
    1. Set camera profile to "Camera Landscape".
    2.Enabled Lens correction to reduce chromatic aberration.
    3. Adjusted Recovery, Fill light, Contrast, Clarity, and Vibrance sliders.
    4. Exported both files to Photoshop as layers.
    Using Photoshop:
    5. Inside Photoshop, I applied masking layers to combine the best exposure from the two images.
    6. Changed the image pixel density to 72ppi resulting to 1426 x 920 pixel size.
    7. added some contrast adjustment.
    8 converted the image to jpeg.

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