Ian Plant

Blending Exposures Using Photoshop

Ian Plant
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Duration:   4  mins

To achieve a spectacular landscape photograph in the ultra-wide format, blending exposures is the way to go. This creative technique allows you to hold sharpness from the front of your image to the back. In this video, professional outdoor photographer Ian Plant shows you the methods of blending exposures.

Ian explains, “When you are blending exposures, you want to take one exposure optimized for the highlights, another exposure for the shadows, and a third to capture the middle range of light.” This method works to avoid overexposure at both ends of the photographic spectrum. As an example, he blends three static images of a cave scene together in Adobe Lightroom. The technique is called Merge To HDR or High Dynamic Range.

The tools he uses are Photo Merge and HDR. These tools automatically blend the three files and auto-align them into a single preview image. He explains that you can now retouch this file with various tools. Auto tone adjusts for highlight and shadow detail. De-ghosting minimizes moving elements in the image such waves, water, or clouds. After retouching, you press the Merge button, and Lightroom creates a new RAW file that combines the data from the three source files and creates the HDR photograph. The final step in the process is the Develop module, in which Lightroom makes what it thinks is the best rendering of the finished HDR photograph. You can still customize your image by making adjustments including shadows, highlights, exposure, whites, and blacks.

There are also other programs for blending exposures. You can use the HDR program itself. You can hand-blend the files with layers and masks through Adobe Photoshop. But Ian prefers Adobe Lightroom for its ease of use.

Join pro shooter Ian Plant for tips on blending exposures in Adobe Lightroom to create an ultra-wide HDR photograph you can be proud of.


See all of the videos in our Ultra-Wide Landscape Course:

Ultra-Wide Landscape—Course Preview
Introduction to Ultra Wide-Angle Photography
When to Use an Ultra Wide-Angle Lens
Shooting Near and Far with an Ultra Wide-Angle Lens
Focus-Stacking Photography with an Ultra-Wide Lens
How to Prevent Lens Flare
Shooting Interiors with an Ultra-Wide Lens
Retouching Focus-Stacked Images
Setting Up Your Tripod for Use on Ground Level
Blending Exposures Using Photoshop
Wide-Angle Lens Distortion Correction


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