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TKActions Quick Tip: Exposure blending

April 12, 2018

Sean Bagshaw is heading out into the field soon, but he managed to squeeze in one more video Quick Tip before leaving. This one covers the popular subject of exposure blending. Because luminosity masks target specific tones in an image, they’re a natural for making masks that blend multiple exposures where the dynamic range of the scene exceeds that of the camera sensor. Sean’s approach to exposure blending has been to focus on the transition zone between light and dark areas of the image to make the blend look natural. Luminosity masks can help significantly with this process since they create natural transitions based on pixel brightness. The steps Sean uses are listed below.

  1. Open the RAW files as smart objects in Photoshop.
  2. Stack the images into a single document with the dark exposure on top.
  3. Make the dark exposure layer active, but turn OFF its visibility.
  4. Click the “Layer Mask” checkbox on the RapidMask2 module to enter Layer Mask Mode. This mode automatically applies the mask generated as a layer mask on the active layer.
  5. Click the “Composite” source button to apply a “Lights-1” mask as a layer mask to the active layer (the dark exposure). This starts the blending process.
  6. Turn the visibility of the dark exposure layer back ON to evaluate the blend.
  7. Modify the layer mask to create the proper transition zone. This might involve trying a different mask, using the MODIFY buttons to modify the current mask, or painting on the layer mask with black or white paint (try setting the blend mode of the paintbrush to “Overlay”).
  8. If needed, double-click the smart objects to reopen them in Adobe Camera Raw to make additional adjustments to brightness, contrast, white balance, etc.

It’s actually pretty easy watching Sean do it. In the 15 minute video he demonstrates the process, with small variations, using three different images.

Quick Tip: Exposure blending
Quick Tip: Favorite new V6 features
Be sure to subscribe to Sean’s YouTube channel for more tips on photography and post-processing.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2018 1:05 pm

    Thank you for this. I was going to ask for a way to do this without having to use Raya Pro or the others.

    It’s taken me more than a year to get through to understanding more and more about luminosity masks and color range masks.

    >

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    • April 12, 2018 1:16 pm

      Yes, I’m very happy Sean did this. Many people have been asking about this technique.

      While Sean demonstrates using the “Composite” mask as the starting point for blending, you can, of course, experiment with any mask you’d like. Once you’re in Layer Mask Mode, you can just click a button to try a new luminosity/channel/color mask as the blending layer mask to find the best mask for your image. You don’t even need to look at the mask to decide which one to use. You can actually just look at the image as the different masks are applied as layer masks to decide what’s working. Same goes for modification. In Layer Mask Mode the modifications are real-time, so you can watch the image as you adjust the mask to find the best setting. Once you find the best mask, a little painting with either black or white paint with an “Overlay” paintbrush can help touch things up as Sean shows in the video.

      Like

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