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A little help please...

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Wow, some very nice stuff being posted here lately.

Life and job have thrown an awful lot of stuff my way the last 6 weeks. I haven't been able to visit this forum very often, but when I needed a mental break this is the first placed I would drop into.... thanks for posting all of your great images.

Now for the request... A while back, Steve posted a very nice tutorial on blending layers in Photoshop to achieve an extended dynamic range. I can't seem to locate this post. If anyone has a link to that particular post, I would really appreciate if he/she could pass it on.

Thank you so much!!

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Its possible it got lost in the forum upgrades. I did a search and couldn't find it but Steve will be back this week and no doubt can post his procedure again.

I can give you two of my methods which are really quite simple. In the first If I want to lighten something I duplicate the photo so it is its own layer, and choose "screen" under the layer mode. I then create a layer mask of that layer and with a wide soft brush paint back in the dark areas I want to keep.

In Photoshop "screen" lightens and "multiply" darkens, so if you have a light sky to darken for instance select "multiply" as the layer mode. You can also adjust the opacity to give you the tone you want.

If you shot multiple photos at different exposures you can also use this method.

I do use two or three shots together in a sort of poor mans HDR to darken a sky or lighten a foreground. It is not great for detailed situations but in the case of skys and foregrounds it works well. For these sunset or sunrise shots I usually take an exposure for the sky and one for the foreground and blend the two together to get the dynamic range I want.

Here are two throw away shots that should illustrate what I mean followed by the final result. Takes about 1 minute to do this.

1. Open both or more photos in PS. I usually take the light shot and using the move tool along with the shift key drag the dark photo on top of the light. Using the shift key until dropping will perfectly position them together.

2. Take the top layer and add a layer mask to it. Make sure that the foreground colors palete on the left is set to black and white and the selected color is black. Now using a broad brush, making sure you have the mask active, paint to reveal the layer underneath. Change brush sizes, the opacity of the brush and switch to white to undo what you have done.

This works well with sky and foreground that has reasonable lines to work with, the pier shot may not be the best to use. HDR in this case may be a better option.

#1 Sky is good, the rest is underexposed.


#2 Overexposed sky, foreground looks good.


#3 Result. Remember I did this in less than a minute. You could do some tweaking to certain areas. Just switch between black and white, size of brush, opacity of brush, opacity of layer. Many adjustments you can make. Pardon the dirty sensor. The restaurant on the left I used about 40% opacity because revealing the light under neath made it to bright. The building under the ferris wheel would benefit from the same treatment, just to lazy to work it.


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I too would like to read that tutorial.

So, which version of PS are you using to make this work? I am currently using Photomatix to process 3 or more images into one. But with late night photos, the dark areas retain a lot of noise.

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Thanks for taking the time DBL for the detailed process. Very helpful!!

Definitely works well. I'm putting it into my bag o' processing tricks.

Still wouldn't mind seeing Steve's tutorial as well.

Thanks again for the very informative process Dbl.

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It's here.

The images have been deleted because I'm no longer using photobucket but that's not really a problem when following the steps.

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And here is one I just learned today, unreal what you pickup even after using Photoshop for a while. Have you ever used "Apply Image"? If you have a shot that you want to recover the lights or highlights, such as a sky that is blown out try this procedure. EXTREMELY fast and easy with pretty good results.

Lets use the shot above, with the sky too light.


Open the image and create an adjustment layer with levels. Take your black slider and move it to the right until your sky looks darker and suited to your taste. Say OK, you are now left with a silhouette shot.

Now go under "Image" and choose "Apply Image", accept the default parameters and say OK.

Violla, it creates its own mask!!


Really fast easy way to fix skies! Give it a try you will like it. Bet you didn't even know the tool existed! I didn't!

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