3. Show off the best of both photos. You need to cut a hole in the top photo to reveal the bottom one. If you’re not comfortable with layer masks, use the Eraser tool. Erase the bad parts of your top photo to reveal the good parts of the bottom. Use a soft-edged eraser. If you know layer masks and are working in Photoshop, you can add a layer mask to the top image, then paint in black wherever you want to remove the bad parts of that photo (black blocks the layer).
Play around with different sizes to the eraser or brush to refine the blending of the top and bottom photo, use the Undo command or white in the layer mask to make corrections as needed and when the photo looks good, you’re done! You now have an image with a better and more optimized tonal range.
TWO-EXPOSURE PHOTOSThe two-exposure technique is a very similar one to double-processing, except now you work with two original images. This technique starts when you first take the pictures. Take one exposure of the scene or subject for the highlights so that they’re exposed well, and one exposure for the shadows that exposes them properly. Ignore what’s happening in tones away from the important ones in each photo. You’re not creating a compromise exposure for both, but an optimum exposure for each. Lock your camera down on a tripod.
You can do this technique with JPEGs or RAW files. The advantage of RAW is that it has more information in the file so you have more to work with as you further optimize your highlight and shadow images in the computer. Here are the steps for using two exposures for a final shot with more tonal range:
1. Take two photos of the scene, one for the highlights and one for the shadows.
2. Process your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop to get the best highlights in the highlights photo and the best shadows in the shadow photo.
The rest of the process is just like using the two images from double-processing.
3. Put the two photos together as layers in one file. Use Lightroom’s connection to Photoshop as described above or create a layered file from your two images in Photoshop. I’m repeating the following instructions because this is one place where I find photographers get messed up. You need to follow these instructions exactly.
With two images overlapping in Photoshop, choose the Move tool, press Shift, and click on one photo and drag it all the way over onto the other photo. This is critical or you’ll get an error message—you must move your cursor all the way over onto the other photo. The cursor’s appearance actually changes as this happens. Release the mouse button first, then the Shift key, and the photos will be lined up with one over the other.
4. Combine the best of both photos. Cut a hole in the top photo to reveal the bottom photo. Use a soft-edged eraser tool to remove the bad parts of your top photo and reveal the good parts of the bottom. If you know layer masks, add a layer mask to the top image and paint in black to block the bad parts of that photo.
Change your eraser or brush size as you go to refine the blending of the top and bottom photo, and you’re done! Once again, you have a photo with a better and more optimized tonal range.
Discover Rob Sheppard’s Lightroom workflow in two DVDs available at www.robsheppardphoto.com.