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We can see in these next two images that the dynamic range in the original scene had a lot of contrast. There was a big difference between the lightest area in the clouds and the darkest areas in the foreground. So sometimes instead of just taking one single photograph of a scene I'll take more than one at different exposures and then I'll use Photoshop to blend those two images together. Basically to paint in, kind of the lighter or dark areas wherever I want them.
So, with these two images selected, let's choose Tools, and then Photoshop, and then Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Bridge hands off those files to Photoshop. And we can see they're both in the same document here. But if I toggle on and off the eye icon, we can also see that they're not exactly aligned, and that's because my camera was not sitting on a tripod. So I need to align these two images. But I would prefer that Photoshop does that for me. So in the layers panel I will select both of these layers by holding down the Command key or the Control key and selecting both of them. And then I'll choose Edit > Auto Align Layers.
I want Photoshop to automatically do this for me and I'll click OK. Photoshop will actually analyze the images and then align them. So now when I toggle on and off the eye icon next to the road dark layer, we can see that they're in alignment. Course, it did have to rotate one in order to get them in alignment, so I'll tap the C key to get my Crop tool. If there are any values in here, I'll just clear them out, and then I'll just crop in a little bit. Now, sometimes it's difficult to just crop in a bit, because by default, Photoshop is snapping the crop marquee to the edges. So if you just hold down the Control key, and that's the same keyboard shortcut on Mac and Windows, it will temporarily turn off that snapping behavior. So you have to start dragging first with one of the anchor points, and then hold down the Control key in order to tell Photoshop not to snap. Alright, we'll apply that by clicking the check mark or tapping Enter or Return. Now it makes more sense for me, just in my mind, to have the darker exposure on the bottom.
So in the layers panel I'm going to select the dark road and drag it down to change the stacking order of my layers. Now I want to hide the lighter exposure and then slowly paint it in. So in order to add a layer mask that is all black to start with as opposed to all white, I'll make sure that I have the layer targeted in my Layers panel. And then I'll hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows and click on the Mask icon. You can see that Photoshop added a black layer mask, and we know that when a mask is black, it hides the information on that layer so we cannot see any of the photograph on this layer. But I'm going to select my paintbrush, so I'll tap the B key, and I have a rather large, soft edged brush.
Now, you can change the size of your brush using those left brackets or right brackets. I'm going to use the Ctrl+Option key on the Mac and drag left or right, so I want to very soft edge brush, which means the hardness is set down to zero, and a very large brush, maybe around 350 or 375 pixels. Now you can see the opacity of my brush is set down to 30%. I actually want to set it down more than 30%. I want to set it down to 10%, so I'll just tap the 1 key. This is going to allow me to slowly reveal this lighter version of the scene, on the top layer. So I'll click and drag and you can see I'm just adding a little bit of light here, and then I can click and drag again if I want to add more light. And if we toggle on and off the visibility of this layer, there's before and there's after, so you literally can paint in the lighter version of this scene by just taking multiple exposures.
In fact, I'm going to make this brush a lot smaller and I might want to paint in even more light just right here on the road. And of course if I paint too much, I can always tap the X key. The X key will exchange my foreground and background color, so now if I wanted to paint out the light, right around here, basically I'm trying to add a little bit of contrast right along that road. So I'm not revealing this lighter layer at all right along the outside portion of the road, instead I just want to reveal it on the inside portion of the road. So I'll tap the X key again, and continue painting just right there to lighten up the road.
Put the emphasis there, and in fact if we hold down the Option or the Alt key, we can view that mask. We can see how where the mask is white, I can see the layer. That's the brighter version. Where the mask is dark, I cannot see the brighter version. Which means that I get to see this great sky from the layer underneath. So again, to just preview this, we can toggle the eye icon. That's before, and that's after. So as you can see, instead of being limited to just the dynamic range of a single exposure, we can actually take two photographs and then selectively choose where to reveal the best information from each exposure by masking in Photoshop.
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