Blending exposures is a technique to allow you to effectively increase the brightness range (dynamic range) in a photograph beyond what the film or sensor can capture normally. You might be thinking, ‘well isn’t that what HDR is supposed to do?’ And you’d be right. Some people don’t like HDR. Some people don’t find HDR software overly easy to use or can’t get the tonemapping done the way they want. Sometimes you don’t need 5 or 7 or 9 exposures to get the result you want. The technique of blending exposures has been practised for many years and is still a useful tool to have in the toolbox.
To do this, you need at least two exposures of a photo at different exposure settings. One properly exposed for the highlights, with dark shadows and one properly exposed for the shadows with overly bright highlights. It’s best if the middle values in the different images you use are close to the same The middle values may be a bit dark on the highlight shot and a bit bright on the shadow shot but still fairly close. Continue reading