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Archive 2013 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed
  
 
CorwinGraves
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p.1 #1 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


I know this may be a rather straightforward topic for many users, but I'm looking for a tutorial that explains the process of blending multiple images into a single, more usable image. I see there are many techniques, but which is the preferred or most common technique? I'm specifically interested in blending together landscape shots to increase dynamic range. In other words, I would like to combine three bracketed shots, for example, into one image to capture all of the details.

Thanks in advance.



Mar 24, 2013 at 11:12 PM
ventieldopje
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p.1 #2 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


This is a commonly used technique and is called (not surprising i'm afraid) High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging. It involves bracketing three or more images and merging those three to HDR with Photoshop .

I wrote a tutorial some time ago where I explain how I do my HDR images: http://maartendeboer.net/2013/01/23/doing-hdr-the-manual-way/



Mar 24, 2013 at 11:43 PM
CorwinGraves
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p.1 #3 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


Thanks - I'm familiar with HDR imaging, though I thought there was a different technique that could produce a more "natural" looking image. Much of the HDR I've seen is too processed for my tastes, though perhaps I was just looking at bad examples.


Mar 25, 2013 at 01:30 AM
Mescalamba
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p.1 #4 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


Its about how you set it up. Photomatix for example allows you just to blend photos, to increase dynamic range, without any further PP. I think HDR Efex should be able to do same (didnt test yet).

Mostly those "over-PP" have boosted tonal contrast of midtones a lot, which causes that surreal look.

Ofc theres way to do it differently, which is simply align layers on each other in PS, then via mask blend them. Bit more difficult, but possible, just very time consuming.



Mar 25, 2013 at 02:03 AM
CorwinGraves
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p.1 #5 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


Thanks for the responses. I'll check out the tutorial linked to above, as it seems like a decent starting point.


Mar 25, 2013 at 02:36 AM
ventieldopje
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p.1 #6 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


Corwin, my tutorial addresses that issue because I feel exactly the same.

There is another option if my tutorial takes too long (say you need to do a whole bunch) then I recommend you have a look at Enblend/Enfuse. Nifty little software program which optionally also integrates with Lightroom and "blends" your multiple exposures to one file and thereby automatically tries to generate a realistic photo.

But well, if you've got the time and want total control I strongly recommend having a go at my tutorial and if you need help send me a PM or send me an email through my site

Enblend/Enfuse: http://enblend.sourceforge.net/



Mar 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM
 

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cgardner
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p.1 #7 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


In most situations more than two exposures is overkill if the goal is to simply record detail everywhere.

The problems are is the sensor range is shorter than scene and noise in the shadows where there is no signal. Most cameras now record about 6-7 stops of noise free detail; some a bit more. An average backlit sunny scene is about 10 stops, so if exposed "to the right" about 3 stops of shadow detail will be lost and very noisy in a single image.

So in most cases making a "normal" exposure for highlight detail guided by the playback clipping warning (keeping all all non-specular highlights below clipping) then slowing the shutter by 3 stops (so as not to change DOF with aperture) will record the shadow details missing from the first, but with blown-out highlights. There will be about 3-4 stop overlap in the middle-tones where information recorded will be redundant. The point where shadow detail has been adequately recorded with the shadow exposure can be seen visually in the playback and via the left edge of the histogram which will no longer be running off the left side.

In PP manually combining the two images the technique is similar to selectively dodging a single file to lighten the shadows with the "dodge" tool, except here you "dodge" by putting the shadow exposure over the highlight exposure in Photoshop with a black filled mask on the same layer, then "open windows" in the mask with either the eraser tool or a white brush which will apply the lighter exposures from the shadow plate over the the baseline highlight exposure to lighten and add detail in those areas which is lacking in the highlight biased exposure.

If most of the important detail is in the shadows you might reverse the process and use the shadow detail file on the bottom as the background then selectively mask in the highlight exposure file where the highlights are blown out in the shadow file. Either away you make selective creative decision rather than just putting 3-4 exposures in a blender, pushing a button and winding up with a mushy smoothie.

It's contrasting tone / texture, not detail everywhere that makes an image interesting to look at. The masking method allows you selectively lighten shadow detail you want the viewer to find and dwell on but leave any potential distractions in the shadows. The overall appearance of the image winds up looking more like the "seen by eye" experience than an automated HDR which lightens all similar shadows by the same amount.

It works for me with most images because in most images the darker background dynamically guides the attention of the viewer to the brighter areas that contrast with the darker content. It's usually only after getting to the brightest focal point and dwelling on it that the eye wanders back into the background to explore. That's where the selective approach allows the photographer to "edit" the storyline by pulling details up out of the shadows for them to find in a "connect the dots" way to understand the context of the focal point they already saw.




Mar 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM
mshi
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p.1 #8 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


You can also create long exposure look by stacking a number of images without using any ND filters at all. If you have Photoshop CS6 Extended, you've got all the tools that you need for that.


Mar 25, 2013 at 05:21 PM
parsons
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p.1 #9 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


http://sussexlandscapephotography.co.uk/panoramic_image_blending.html
http://sussexlandscapephotography.co.uk/basic_exposure_blending.html
http://sussexlandscapephotography.co.uk/remove_lens_flare.html



Mar 25, 2013 at 06:38 PM
CorwinGraves
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p.1 #10 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


Thanks all. I tried ventieldopje's tutorial and it worked great!



Mar 31, 2013 at 02:06 AM
CorwinGraves
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p.1 #11 · Blending Tutorial - Advice Needed


Parsons - thanks for the links. Great stuff there.


Mar 31, 2013 at 02:09 AM





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