Digital blending multiple exposures

I received a request on Flickr a couple days ago:

you mentioned taking 3 exposures in one of your shots (a stream in big basin) and combining them together in photoshop. how do you do that?

I can only assume he meant this one:

Redwoods and West Berry Creek

Redwoods and West Berry Creek
Big Basin State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Nikon D70, Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G
Vari-ND filter, Gitzo 1228LVL tripod, RRS BH-55 ballhead
(3 exposures at 1/4″, 1.3″ and 3″) @ f/16, iso 200, 12mm (18mm)

Here’s how I did it.

Well before I tell you how, I think I should mention how I’m going to tell you how. I am going to use the excellent program Comic Life to do it. You can see from Flickr that this is a pretty amazing program that people have used in interesting ways.

If you don’t have a Mac, then you can try this shameless copy of the program for Windows. It’s not as good since it doesn’t take advantage of the cool features built into the latest Mac OS X. (But then again, neither did I.)

The idea as a tutorial, I shamelessly stole from Dave McNally.

Click on the images and then “All Sizes” to read the tutorial.

Digital blending tutorial. Page 1: The exposures
Digital Blending workflow with multiple exposures-2
Digital blending tutorial. Page 3: blending
Digital blending tutorial. Page 4: final edits

11 thoughts on “Digital blending multiple exposures

  1. An article on DPBlogs reminded me that I should link Erik Krause’s seminal article (and free Photoshop actions) for doing this style of contrast blending.

    I use the contrast blending technique in my article (for the waterblur highlights in the middle exposure), but as I mentioned earlier, I prefer brush style digital blending to avoid the plastic look of HDR.

    My style is less “HDR” and more “zone system.” Applications like LightZone apply the same principle and semi-automate the process. If it worked for >16 bit images you’d have the ultimate digital blending system.

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