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Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos
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Merging bracketed exposures


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Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos

with Jan Kabili

Video: Merging bracketed exposures

If a scene has a wider range of brightness than your camera can capture in one shot, you can take multiple bracketed exposures and merge them together using the Photo Merge Exposure feature in Elements. This technique can help you get detail in the bright and the darker areas of a scene. Some cameras will bracket exposures for you automatically, or if you have manual exposure controls, you can set your bracketing by hand, by leavening the aperture the same to keep the depth of field from changing across exposures and varying the shutter speed slightly. You'll also want you set your focus to manual so it doesn't change between shots, and if you happen to have a tripod, put your camera on the tripod so that your bracketed exposures are well aligned.
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  1. 6m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
    3. Overview of the editing workspaces
      3m 34s
  2. 43m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 21s
    2. Making the most of the tools in Elements
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging the panels
      4m 32s
    4. Zooming and panning
      4m 3s
    5. Viewing multiple photos
      3m 51s
    6. Undoing
      5m 15s
    7. Cropping
      3m 46s
    8. Resizing
      7m 18s
    9. Saving images and examining formats
      6m 2s
  3. 19m 23s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 59s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      4m 33s
    3. Creating new layers
      6m 51s
  4. 38m 28s
    1. Why use selections?
      4m 20s
    2. Selecting with the marquee tools
      3m 56s
    3. Selecting with the lasso tools
      6m 40s
    4. Selecting by color and tone
      6m 22s
    5. Refining a selection
      4m 51s
    6. Selecting hair
      5m 42s
    7. Hiding content with a layer mask
      6m 37s
  5. 46m 54s
    1. Why use adjustment layers?
      5m 15s
    2. Adjusting color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 32s
    3. Correcting lighting with a Levels adjustment layer
      3m 32s
    4. Adjusting part of an image with an adjustment layer
      5m 19s
    5. Exploring auto adjustments
      3m 55s
    6. Improving shadows and highlights
      2m 14s
    7. Removing a color cast
      1m 47s
    8. Fine-tuning with Color Curves
      3m 16s
    9. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    10. Correcting camera distortion
      5m 32s
    11. Reducing noise
      2m 56s
    12. Sharpening
      6m 10s
  6. 20m 51s
    1. Creating a panorama
      5m 6s
    2. Merging bracketed exposures
      6m 0s
    3. Removing people from a scene
      5m 25s
    4. Combining group shots
      4m 20s
  7. 29m 24s
    1. Removing blemishes
      3m 42s
    2. Reducing wrinkles and circles
      4m 16s
    3. Enhancing eyes
      5m 19s
    4. Removing red-eye
      3m 15s
    5. Adjusting skin tone
      2m 21s
    6. Removing dust spots
      4m 7s
    7. Removing content
      6m 24s
  8. 52m 36s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      5m 18s
    2. Using the latest Camera Raw controls
      3m 16s
    3. Camera Raw basics
      6m 22s
    4. Making use of the histogram
      3m 45s
    5. Setting white balance
      3m 44s
    6. Adjusting lighting
      4m 28s
    7. Adjusting color saturation
      2m 9s
    8. Cropping and straightening
      3m 58s
    9. Reducing noise
      3m 33s
    10. Sharpening
      3m 38s
    11. Synchronizing edits to multiple photos
      3m 36s
    12. Outputting from Camera Raw
      6m 14s
    13. Using Camera Raw with JPEGs
      2m 35s
  9. 48s
    1. Next steps
      48s

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Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos
4h 17m Beginner Nov 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Go beyond the automatic editing features in Adobe Photoshop Elements and find out how to make sophisticated edits using the Expert Edit mode. In this course, author, teacher, and photographer Jan Kabili explores the core features of the Expert Edit mode, from making exposure adjustments, retouching, and compositing images, to adding text. The course also takes a close look at adjusting photos with Adobe Camera Raw, included with Elements 11.

Topics include:
  • Arranging the panels and interface
  • Cropping and resizing photos
  • Creating new layers
  • Refining selections
  • Hiding content with a layer mask
  • Using adjustment layers
  • Correcting color, lighting, and contrast
  • Converting a color photo to black and white
  • Creating a panorama from multiple photos
  • Retouching blemishes and wrinkles
  • Making adjustments in Camera Raw
Subjects:
Photography Retouching
Software:
Photoshop Elements Elements
Author:
Jan Kabili

Merging bracketed exposures

If a scene has a wider range of brightness than your camera can capture in one shot, you can take multiple bracketed exposures and merge them together using the Photo Merge Exposure feature in Elements. This technique can help you get detail in the bright and the darker areas of a scene. Some cameras will bracket exposures for you automatically, or if you have manual exposure controls, you can set your bracketing by hand, by leavening the aperture the same to keep the depth of field from changing across exposures and varying the shutter speed slightly. You'll also want you set your focus to manual so it doesn't change between shots, and if you happen to have a tripod, put your camera on the tripod so that your bracketed exposures are well aligned.

In this case, I have three exposures: this bright exposure, this dark one, and this exposure in between. I'd like to combine these three to get the optimum amount of detail in the highlights in the sky, in the midtone areas of the landscape, and in some of the brighter areas as well. I've opened all three exposures into Expert edit. I'll move down to the Photo Bin at the bottom of Expert edit. If your Photo Bin isn't in showing there then click the Photo Bin button in the Taskbar. I'm going to select all three of these thumbnails. I'll click on the first one, and then I'll hold the Shift key and click on the last one so that there's a white highlight around all three. And then I'll go up to the Enhance menu and I'll choose Photomerge > Photomerge Exposure.

That opens the Photomerge Exposure window with Elements' initial attempt to combine those three exposures to give me this merged image. I think in this case it's done a pretty good job, but I do have the opportunity to fine-tune this initial merge. I can do that over in the column on the right, where there are both Automatic controls and Manual controls. You can see the Automatic controls here. If I click Simple Blending that's the fully automatic result and I really don't have an opportunity to fine-tune this. So I'll usually leave the Automatic controls set to Smart Blending, and then I'll use the Highlight and Shadows sliders to control the darkness and the amount of detail in the highlight and shadow areas of the image.

I'll drag the Highlight slider slightly to the right, and that will darken the sky, bringing in a little more detail in the clouds. To open up the shadows, I'll drag the Shadows slider to the right too, and that will get me a little more detail back here in the hills. Sometimes moving those two sliders can take some color out of the image. In that case I would drag the Saturation slider slightly to the right to bring back some more color intensity. I'm pretty happy with this result, so at this point I might go down and click the Done button. But before I do that I do want to show you the manual controls.

So I'm going to click the Manual button here, and that changes the Photo Merge Exposure interface. In this interface you can just follow the instructions in the column on the right. The instructions say to go down to the Photo Bin and choose one of the exposures to drag and drop into the final preview window. I'm going to do that with the first exposure, the midtone exposure, dragging it from the Photo Bin up to the final preview and releasing my mouse. Then I'm going to choose one of my two remaining exposures as my source file. I'll click on this middle thumbnail, the one with the yellow highlight, that's the darkest of the exposures.

What I'd like to do with this exposure is to bring the dark sky into the final image. So I'll go over to the column on the right and I'll select the Pencil Tool. I'd like to size my Pencil Tool to be relatively small because that gives you more control over the result. I'll come into the Source image and I'm going to click and drag a short line. Now keep your eye on the final image as I release my mouse and you'll see that some of the pixels from the Source image have been copied over into the corresponding area of the Final image. I'll continue doing, that drawing out some short lines on the Source image in order to copy pixels from the Source into the Final image.

I've found that dragging short lines like this gives you more control over the results. I'm trying to be careful not to bring any of the foreground into my Final image, because the foreground is too dark in this exposure. Now if you do go too far and you get some dark pixels over here in the foreground of the Final image, you can try using the Eraser Tool to erase some of the marks or even to reshape the marks. But I think in this case I've got a pretty good result here. I'd like to make this look more realistic by smoothing the edge between the dark pixels and the original pixels in the Final.

So I'm going to go to column on the right, scroll down there, and I'll check Edge Blending. I'm also going to go to the Opacity slider and drag that to the left, which makes the dark pixels that I brought into the final image a little more transparent, so we can see down through to the original final image below, and that gives me a more realistic or convincing result. There's one more thing I want to do, which is to bring in some of the bright detail from my third exposure. I'll go down to the Photo Bin again and I'll click on the third thumbnail, the one with the green highlight around it, to display that brighter image here in the Source preview window.

Then, I'll get my Pencil Tool again in the column on the right, and I'll click and drag some short lines in this Source image, and as I do I'm copying parts of this image over into the Final, brightening and making the detail more visible in the foreground area. And again I'm going to lower that Opacity slider to get a more realistic looking result. There are some advanced alignment options here too, which you can try out if your images aren't well-aligned, one with the other. But in this case I think I've got a pretty good result as is so I'm not going to apply the Alignment Tool. Instead I'm just going to click the Done button at the bottom right of the Photo Merge Exposure window, and that will close that window and take me back out to Expert edit.

Now you can see that I have my original three images here in the document window. And I have this fourth combined exposure, which includes detail in the sky, in the foreground, as well as in the midtone area. At this point I would save this combined image, created for me in Elements' Photo Merge Exposure feature.

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