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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.

This is called high dynamic range photography—HDR.


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.


Above Two Photographs

Merged with Photomerge Exposure

Photograph the Scene

1 - Contrast

Find a contrasty scene.

Part of the scene should be in the sun, and another part in the shade, for example.

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

The above example uses only two exposures.

Most often, photograph three exposures.

Occasionally, if the scene has a very dark area, or a very bright area, add additional exposures.

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.

–2, –1, 0, +1, +2

Two stop increments would be enough, for most scenes.

–2, 0, +2

But many cameras can only bracket one stop increments, so its okay to take five photographs.

–2, –1, 0, +1, +2

If the scene is very contrasty, use exposure compensation.

Method #2 - Exposure Compensation

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

Take three photographs at –2, 0, and +2.

If the scene has a very bright area, add an exposure:

–3, –2, 0, +2

If the scene has a very dark area, add an exposure:

–2, 0, +2, +3

5 - Combine the Photographs

Do the following.

You're in the Expert section.

1) Open the photographs to be merged.

Close any other photographs.

2) Click Guided at the top of your screen.

3) Click Photomerge in the upper-right corner of your screen.

4) Click the Photomerge Exposure panel.

It has a photograph of the London Bridge.

5) Click Open All.

The Photomerge Exposure window opens with the merged photograph.

On the right side of your screen, Automatic and Smart Blending are selected by default.

You can adjust the highlights, shadows, and saturation with the sliders.

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.

6) Click Next in the lower-right corner of your screen.

There are selections for saving the merged photograph and for continuing to edit it.

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