Use EXPOSURE BLENDING for Balanced Nature Photos (VIDEO)

Landscape photography involves several challenges, not the least of which is arriving at a correct exposure. That’s because nature scenes, especially those shot with a wide-angle lens, may include a very wide range of tones from bright highlights to deep shadows, and skies that often fall somewhere in between.

Depending upon the density range of a scene, it’s sometimes possible to nail exposure in the camera, or by making a few tweaks with Photoshop’s Highlight and Shadow sliders. Other times achieving a “perfect exposure” involves a couple more steps in Photoshop, which is what you’ll learn in the video below.

In this episode from The Phlog Photograph YouTube channel, you’ll learn how to get job done to perfection by employing Photoshop’s powerful but easy-too-use Apply Mask technique. Before clicking the Play button we encourage you to download the sample Raw file in the description beneath the video so you can follow along in real time.

German landscape pro Christian Mohrle’s demonstration image has a bright sky and shadows that are too dark for his liking. His goal for rehabilitating the photo is to retain all the details possible across the entire range. And with this particular shot that’s almost impossible to do in one image.

Mohrle starts with a few basic enhancements to get the image as good as possible before jumping into blending. He adjusts white balance for cooler tones, and adds texture, clarity, and vibrance for a sharp saturated look.

Now it’s time to blend several images of the same scene, placing the brightest at the bottom, followed by the base exposure, and the darkest image on top. Mohrle starts with the base exposure, chooses Apply Image, and simply hits OK. This facilitates what follows, as you can now easily blend the layers to achieve exactly the look you’re after, He finishes the job by adding subtle glow to the highlights, and a bit of extra contrast.

There are more editing tips on Mohrle’s YouTube channel, so be sure to take a look.

And for another very helpful landscape tutorial check out the story we posted awhile back from another expert, explaining  “one essential concept every nature photographer should know.”