How to blend exposures to make a high-contrast photography composite: steps 6-10
06 Reveal the midtones
Add a black layer mask to ‘Layer 1’ in the same way, then target this mask, take a white brush at around 800 pixels and 25% Opacity, and paint back the parts of the image you want to make lighter. If you want to fully reveal parts of the layer you can increase the Opacity to 100%, but keeping the Opacity low enables you to reveal areas gradually.
07 Boost the contrast
Now we can adjust the exposure and contrast of the image as a whole. Add a Levels adjustment layer and set the Shadows slider to 27, the Midtones slider to 1.52 and the Highlights slider to 235. This lightens the image and boosts the contrast.
08 Add some red
We’ll use a second Levels adjustment layer to warm up the image a bit more. This time choose Red from the channel menu, and move the Midtones slider left to 1.20 to tint the image with red. To make this effect more subtle change the layer’s blending mode to Soft Light, and reduce the Opacity to 20%.
To fine-tune the image’s tones add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and set Brightness to 18 and Contrast to 20. Once you’re happy with all of your adjustments click the top layer in the layer stack, and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged layer containing all the visible content and effects.
10 Clone out lens flare
There are a few patches of orange lens flare in the foreground that are very noticeable against the green foliage. Take the Clone Stamp tool, Alt-click to sample some foliage close to the spots, and clone these pixels over the spots. Clone out the purple patch of flare on the tree in the centre background of the image in the same way.
A Levels adjustment layer is an easy and effective way to add colour tints to images, or correct a colour cast. By selecting the red, green or blue colour channel from the menu and moving the Midtones slider left you’ll add that colour to the image.
If you drag the slider right you’ll add the colour that’s the ‘opposite’ colour to the selected primary colour on a colour wheel: cyan is the opposite colour to red, magenta is the opposite colour to green and yellow is the opposite colour to blue.
PAGE 1 – How to set up your camera to shoot high-contrast photography
PAGE 2 – How to blend exposures to make a high-contrast photography composite: steps 1-5
PAGE 3 – How to blend exposures to make a high-contrast photography composite: steps 6-10
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