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photokaboom

Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements >

Combine Two Photographs >

2 - Situation #1 - Too Much Contrast

Early photographers used to make two exposures of a scene.

The exposure was optimized:

• For the sky in the first photograph.

• For the foreground in the second photograph.

Later, in the darkroom, the two negatives were used to make a single print of the scene.

You can do the same thing with Photoshop Elements' Photomerge Exposure.

Example

Here's a firewood "factory."

The photograph on the left was exposed for the sky.

The exposure compensation was set to -.5.

The photograph on the right was exposed for the foreground.

The exposure compensation was set to +2.

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Exposure Optimized for the Sky

Exposure Compensation: -.5

Exposure Optimized for the Foreground

Exposure Compensation: +2

The above photographs were combined using Photoshop Elements' Photomerge Exposure.

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Above Two Photographs

Merged with Photomerge Exposure

Photograph the Scene

1 - Contrast

Find a contrasty scene.

Parts of the scene should be in the sun, and other parts, in shade.

2 - Little Movement

Avoid scenes with movement, such as pedestrians and traffic.

3 - Don't Move the Camera, Much

Use a tripod.

Or, set your camera on something.

If the camera must be hand held, frame the scene the same way in each photograph.

If you do the latter, Photoshop Elements can put the photographs in register if their framing varies slightly.

4 - Vary the Exposures

You must vary the exposure setting for each photograph.

You need:

• One photograph that's lighter.

• One photograph that's darker.

There are three ways you can do this.

Do one of the following.

Method #1 - Auto Bracketing

You can set your camera to take several exposures of a scene at different exposure settings.

Because the photographs are taken quickly, this method is best for scenes with some movement, such as clouds.

Set your camera to take five exposures with one stop increments.

Afterwards, you'll select the two best exposures to combine.

Method #2 - Exposure Compensation

You can use exposure compensation to vary the exposure for each photograph.

Take a photograph at 0, -1, -2, +1, and +2.

-2 -1 0 +1 +2
                       

Afterwards, you'll select the two best exposures to combine.

Method #3 - Spot Metering

Set your light meter to spot metering.

Do the following.

a) Point the center of the viewfinder at the brightest part of the scene.

b) Lock in the exposure with Autoexposure Lock.

c) Reframe the scene and take the photograph.

Repeat the above for the darkest part of the scene.

d) Point the center of the viewfinder at the darkest part of the scene.

e) Lock in the exposure with Autoexposure Lock.

f) Reframe the scene and take the photograph.

Combine the Photographs

Be sure to check off as you go along.

1) Open the photographs.

If you took more than two, select the two exposures that have the best detail in the shadows and in the highlights.

2) Press and hold Ctrl, and click on the photographs in the project bin/photo bin.

3) Go to File > New > Photomerge Exposure.

By default, Photoshop Elements opens with the automatic choice.

You can adjust the highlights, shadows, and saturation, with Smart Blending.

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4) Click Done.

If needed, you can click Manual instead of Automatic.

You select the parts of the photographs that you want to include, and can align them, as well.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.

Next, we'll replace a plain sky with a blue sky.