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Rattlesnake Canyon: Exposure Blending with Luminosity Masks by Greg Benz

3/07/2015 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

Manual exposure blending is essentially "manual HDR". Greg Benz find that this can often produce more natural results, especially when large areas of the images are all bright or dark (which tends to produce halos in HDR).

Using this image Greg shot in Rattlesnake Canyon (near Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ), he demonstrates how to blend two different exposures in Photoshop. Greg used Lumenzia (interactive luminosity masking panel), but did not use custom masks - ie, the basic exposure blending principles used here could alternatively been done with his free luminosity masking actions or other luminosity masking approaches.

Key segments:
0:00 Intro and RAW adjustments in Lightroom
1:30 Open as layers and align in Photoshop
3:45 Using a luminosity selection to blend the darker exposure into the lighter exposure in the transition areas ("bowling with bumpers")
9:00 Using a free-hand paint brush to blend in the darker exposure in the rest of the image
11:47 Adding a vignette to keep focus on the subject
12:13 Using a solid color layer in "color" blend mode to enhance the orange/peach tones in the rock

Note that Greg wanted to keep this video brief, so it mostly just shows the exposure blending process. Subsequent to this video, he used the following steps in Lumenzia to finalize the image:

- Saturation mask with group to reduce orange saturation on brightest parts of the left side of the image.
- Vibrance mask with group mask to increase the peach tones in the middle/top of the image.
- Solid color adjustment layer with peach-color restricted through L4 and group mask to tone down the powerful yellows.
- Sharpen (increased radius to ~80, increased threshold to ~20, and dropped opacity of the sharpening layer to ~30%)

These color adjustments help to keep the focus on his main subject (the rock formation in the middle/top), and sharpening added texture to the rock.

For more information on the Lumenzia luminosity masking panel, please visit:

Text, image and video via Greg Benz