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Hey gang, this is Deke Mcclelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. Today, I'm going to show you how to merge two different exposures of a single raw photograph inside Photoshop. And when I say exposures, I mean that we're exposing the photographs in two different ways, inside Camera Raw. We'll start with this very dark exposure here, where the landscape is way too dark, but the sky is quite dramatic. And then, we'll turn around and re-expose that exact same photograph in Camera Raw so that the landscape is nice and bright, but the sky is a little washed out, and then we'll combine the two together inside Photoshop to create this ideal version of the scene.
Now, some of you may look at this and wonder, well why don't you just approach this entire thing inside Camera Raw, or Lightroom, what have you, using the graduated filter, to separate the sky from the foreground. Or, you could use the Adjustment brush. Well. I'm looking, there's two reasons, by the way. One is, I'm looking to mask the mountains away from the sky. And, masking is something that Photoshop is uniquely suited to, of course. And then, furthermore, not all the functions that are available to Camera Raw are available to the graduated filter and the adjustment brush.
Some features, like highlights and shadows, work differently and others like blacks, whites, and vibrants are missing altogether. Which is why your best bet is to expose inside Camera Raw and combine inside, Photoshop. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. Alright, here's the final version of that two exposure vista, just so you have a chance to see it on screen. I going to start things off by opening the original DNG file, that raw photographic image, as a smart object.
By going up to the File menu here inside Photoshop, and choosing Open as Smart Object, and then, if you're working along with me, you want to locate this file called Flatirons followed by DM and a number. And that's the image name that was automatically assigned by the digital camera. Now I'll go ahead and click on the Open button in order to open that image inside Camera Raw. As you see here, notice that it's quite dark, which will afford us a lot of action up here in the sky. Alright, now I don't need to make any modifications, I've already dialed in a bunch of settings as you can see here.
So, I'll click OK in order to open that image as a smart object inside of Photoshop. And if you're working along with me, it may take a moment or two, this is a pretty big image. 22 mega pixels in all. All right, and now I have my new Smart Object layer here inside the Layers panel. Now I want to make a duplicate of this image because bear in mind that our two exposures are both based on the exact same shot, that way we don't have any alignment issues. So, to make a copy of this image that you can modify independently, you want to right-click inside the image window using your Rectangular Marquee tool and then you want to choose this command, New Smart Object via Copy.
And that'll go ahead and create an independent smart object, as we're seeing right here. I'm going to rename it Brighter, because it will be a brighter exposure as soon as I double click on its thumbnails. So, I'll go ahead and double click on this top thumbnail here inside the Layers panel. To visit the image, this independent version of the image inside of Camera Raw. And now we're going to make a few modifications, so I'm going to leave the temperature and tint alone, but I am going to take that exposure value up all the way to 1.0, so plus 1.00, like so.
And then I'll tab my way down to the shadows value, and I'll take it up to its maximum of plus 100. And then I'm going to take the whites value up to plus 50. And I'll take the blacks value up to zero. So, you can see, we're ending up with a much brighter version of the scene in which, this time, the sky is washed out. That's why it's not really possible to balance the scene properly using the basic functions on their own. I could, as I mentioned at the outset, use something along the lines of the Graduated Filter tool or the Adjustment brush, but neither of those functions affords me the kind of control I can achieve inside Photoshop, as we're about to see.
Now I'll crank the clarity value up to positive 100, and I'm going to take the vibrance value up to an unsubtle 90. So, almost as high as it gets, and I'll leave the saturation cranked up to plus 50. Now I'm going to switch over to the Detail panel which is three icons over up here. And again, no room for subtlety where this effect is concerned. I'm going to crank the sharpening amount value up to 150, and then I'm going to take the radius value up to its maximum of 3.0.
I also want to take down the color smoothness a little bit here, so I'll take that down to 75. And the reason that I'm doing this, incidentally, obviously the changes I made in the basic panel result in a much brighter image as well as an image that has a lot more contrast and, of course, saturation, thanks to the vibrance increase. And, thanks to my detail adjustments we have sharper image detail as well and a little less smoothness where the color's concerned.
So, a little more color variation. Alright, now, I'll go ahead and click OK. And I'm really doing this just so that we have as much contrast between these two different exposures as possible. So, you can really see this scene unfold. So again, it will take a moment for those modifications to apply, and then you're going to see this much brighter scene. So, just to confirm that everything's working out the way it should, I'll turn off the brighter layer. That's the darker exposure down below. And then, if I turn brighter back on, there's our brighter exposure sitting right on top.
And now what we need to do is mask this brighter exposure. Now, I've gone ahead and created a mask in advance. And it's this thing right here. It's called mountainmask.tif and it's available to those of you who have access to the exercise files and to load it, what you do is, you go ahead and open up that image and then I'll go ahead and switch over to my composition in progress with the brighter layer active. You want to go up to the Select menu and choose Load Selection. And then change the document source to mountainmask.tif, again, if you have access to that file.
The channel will be great because there's only one channel included along with this image. And then, click on the OK button in order to load that image as the selection. And you can now see that everything but the sky is selected. So, notice that the marching ants are wrapping around the top of the mountains. And around the bottom of the image as well. And that's because, if I switch back to the mask, anything that's white inside the mask becomes selected. And anything that's black becomes deselected. Alright, I'll go ahead and switch back over to my composition with the brighter layer active, drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel, and click on it.
And that will mask away the sky that's associated with the active layer, as you can see right there. And, by the way, if you want to see bigger layer thumbnails, at any point in time, just right click in an empty portion of the Layers panel and choose Large Thumbnails, like so. And that will allow you a clearer view of your mask. So, the layer mask is right there. The white area is the portion that is revealed inside of the layer and the black area is the portion that is concealed. That is the sky, so that we can see through to the sky from that bottom layer.
Alright, now I want to create some softer transitions and I'll do that using the Gradient tool. So already, we've got a lot more control than we would have otherwise in Camera Raw using the Gradient Filter tool or the Adjustment brush. But now, I can also add a gradient to the mix by selecting the Gradient tool, and then I'll go up to the options bar and click on this down pointing arrow head to the right of the gradient bar right there. And I'll select this second option in foreground to transparent, and this assumes, by the way, that your foreground color is black.
If it's not, you can press the D key and then press the X key to make it so. And the reason that you have to press D and X is because we're working inside of a mask. Now I'm going to drag from about midway in the sky, right about there, down to the base of this tree. And I'll press the Shift key as I do so, in order to constrain the angle of my drag to exactly vertical, like so, and that will darken up the tops of the mountains just ever so slightly.
And you can see, because we're going from foreground to transparent, if I Alt+Click, or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail here, and set the layers panel. We can now see the layer mask. At which point, it becomes obvious that the gradient is not replacing the mountain mask, but is rather being added to it. Alright. I'll go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that layer mask thumbnail again, so that we can see the full RGB image. Then I'll zoom out by pressing Ctrl+- or Cmd + - on a Mac, and I'll drag from about here on up, like so and once again, I'm pressing the Shift key as I drag.
And that will make for a darker foreground as we're seeing right here. Now, the final thing I want to do is sharpen up the scene a little bit, so I'll go ahead and zoom on in, and I'll do this, by the way, using a static pass of the high pass filter. So, the first thing you want to do is merge these two layers together on a new layer and the only way to do that is from the keyboard. It's Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E or Cmd+Shift+Option+E on the Mac, will merge these two layers onto a new one and this is a static pixel based layer, as you can see, indicated by the fact that there is no little page icon to suggest that it's a smart object.
Now go ahead and rename this layer Highpass. Now, normally I would convert this layer to a smart object and then apply Highpass as a smart filter. But I'm not going to do that in this case because the image is already huge enough. So, I'll just modify the pixels directly by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Other, and then you want to choose High Pass. I went ahead and set the radius value to 24 pixels because, after all, this is a very large images. And then, I'll click OK and you can see that we've got now all of these edge details.
So, High Pass takes everything that's not an edge and turns it grey and then leaves some contrast around the edges. And you can turn that into sharpening by first getting rid of the color, which you do by going to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments and then choosing Desaturate. And that way, we won't have any color artifacts. And, now, you want to go in the Blend mode pop-up menu in the top-left-hand corner of the layers panel. And, you could change it to overlay, but that's going to give us an awfully harsh effect. Which is why I settled on soft light, instead, which produces the effect you see right now.
Alright. Now, go ahead and press the F key, a couple of times, in order to switch to the full screen mode. And, I'll zoom on in, as well. And that's how you combine two exposures of the exact same raw digital photograph using the development powers of Camera Raw combined with the masking capabilities of Photoshop. All right so, the obvious missing ingredient in that technique is the mountain mask itself. Photoshop did not generate this automatically, I created this mask which is why, if you're a member of the lynda.com online training library, I have a follow up movie in which I show you how to create such a mask down to the leaves and the trees and the peaks and the mountains and everything.
If you're waiting for next week's free movie, I'm going to show you how to create a photographic caricature inside Photoshop. And by the way, this began, this image began as a standard portrait shot, this one right here. And then I was able to enhance it using a combination of free transform and liquefy. Deke's technique each and every week. Keep watching.
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