Digital Blending Series Part 1

2-Image Digital Blending

This is a digital blending series, designed to teach you multiple methods of image blending with luminosity masks. The series focusses on the blending of 2 exposures. With the dynamic range of most cameras today, the need for more than two images is rare. There are circumstances where more then two images are required. Visit our tutorials on digital blending to see many more tutorials on this topic. In this digital blending series you’ll find a total of 4 videos. In each of the videos we show several methods of tackling each blend. Each of the videos features a specific topic, as well as other methods.

Digital Blending Video Series

Part 1: Painting With Luminosity Masks

In this video series we focus using the technique of painting in the detail with a loaded luminosity masks selection. Painting with luminosity masks is a powerful technique with many applications. It’s also a powerful method of controlling the areas you want adjusted when blending images.

Part 2: Automated Blending

ADP Pro has three methods of automated exposure blending built in. This blending method can be hit and miss. But, it’s a very quick method of blending and worth trying on your images, you may be surprised. 

Part 3: Zone System Blending

In this tutorial we use the Zone System Heat Map to make accurate selections. We then use those selections to control the areas that we want to blend. It’s a powerful visual tool for making selections, and helps immensely with selections for blending. 

Part 4: Replace Grad Filters

This technique is be far and away the easiest, and often one of the most effective methods of digital blending. It does feature in many of the videos, but the concept is described in greater detail in part 4. 

Method 1: Graduated Filter

We place a white mask on the top layer, with the lighter image on top. This gives us exposure for the shadows in the foreground and the sea. Then using a simple graduated filter, we apply a gradient to the sky to bring in the darker sky from the image below it on the layer stack.

This does a great job to complete digital blending the two exposures and giving you a look virtually identical to using a graduated filter in the field. We then make a luminosity selection of the areas that have been darkened by the graduated filter and use that selection to paint out the darkening on the mask.

Method 2: Painting With Luminosity Masks

in this example, we start with the darker exposure, or the exposure for the sky on the top layer, with the exposure for the shadows below it. We apply a white mask to the top layer. Now making a luminosity selection of the dark areas, we can use this to paint on the mask to reveal the lighter areas from the image below.

You will notice that in both methods we are painting with masks, rather than applying a luminosity mask to the entire image. When you have image where there is motion or movement between exposures, features that appear in one image, don’t appear in the other. In this case there are rocks exposed in one exposure, and in the longer exposure they are hidden. If we apply a mask to the entire image, we will get ghosting and artifacts as the features in both images are not the same.

As a general rule of thumb, you should consider the painting method when you have motion between your exposures. We do show the pitfalls of applying masks to the entire image in this video. There are circumstances where applying a mask to the entire image creates pleasing results, we’ll cover this in future videos.