Now, you have created a new image from two separate ones, but while this is clearly intervention, there is also a strong argument that this is perfectly legitimate, and that the procedure of taking more than one exposure within seconds is simply a way of overcoming the cameras limitations of capturing a full range of brightness. Indeed, as technology progresses, specific software tools are appearing that make use of this ‘multi-shot’ approach. One such is Photomerge Scene Cleaner in Photoshop Elements, another is Photomerge Group Shot.
Now use Photoshop or a similar image-editing programme that allows selections and layers and take either this same image (the version exposed for the landscape) or any other photograph with a sky. Then choose a different sky from an existing or new photograph.
In the first image, select the area of the sky and save the selection. Then paste into this area the sky from the second photograph. The aim is to create a realistic effect, as if the new sky could really have been a part of the original image. You will need to consider such things as the direction of the sunlight if this is visible, the overall brightness and the contrast, in order to make the match look good.
Again, I found this a very difficult exercise to complete, as my knowledge of Photoshop is very sketchy, and I therefore spent most of one-day reading articles, watching videos and generally playing with buttons in the application. Once I had done this, I then had to find two appropriate images to perform the merge, which was a headache on its own.
I decided to use this South Korean war memorial as the focus of my image, as the sky, if not bright, was dull and lifeless, and I thought it might work better with a little texture injected into the frames sky.
The sky used in this shot was taken during a recent trip to London. I like the cloud formations in this shot and thought it would suit the original image nicely.
Having read quiet a bit about layers, their function(s) and how they are applied to images, it was my intention to isolate the sky from behind the shard, stretch it a little so that it covered the same area as the sky in the foreground image of the war memorial, then conduct a little housekeeping, making sure that my final offering looked right. Unfortunately things did not turn out quiet that easy, and my workflow looked a little something like this.
Realising that the area of the sky I wanted to use in my combined image was not quiet the right size to slot into place behind the memorial, I used the Clone Stamp tool to enlarge the surface area of the clouds along the horizon on both the left and right of the frame. Then, using the Magic Wand Tool set with a tolerance of 10, I clicked around the sky, selecting all of the detail contained within clouds. When complete, I set about refining the edge and selected smart radius with a pixel count of 2; I smoothed the edge 2 points and feathered at 1 pixel. Within the output selection, I chose the output to New Layer with Layer Mask, which deleted the detail within the shot I did not need.
N.B. A Layer Mask is different to an Adjustment Layer in that information is completely hidden within the Layer Mask (as seen in the image below). Adjustment Layers on the other hand, enable you to isolate certain areas within the image and adjust them differently to other areas within the frame (as we saw in the previous enhancement exercise). Regardless of the layer type you choose, all are non-destructive, enabling you to revisit each time and again, making constant changes to their data …
Once this was complete, in Photoshop, I changed my view to tile, so that both images appeared on the screen together, and then dragged the image of the sky over the image of the memorial, making sure they were exactly aligned.
To make my work easier, I changed the opacity of the sky later to 50% so that I could see the memorial underneath, then set about erasing the information that I did not need, this was done using a mixture of sized and textured brushes. This took quiet some time to achieve, but the final result can be seen here.
Once the hard work was complete, I set about some general housekeeping and straightened the shot, and isolated the memorial in an adjustment layer, so that the exposure could be manipulated. My final workings can be seen below.
As I found with the previous exercise, this was a long an laborious task to achieve, and while I was erasing the unwanted information from the screen I kept thinking how much easier it would have been to just get the shot I wanted first time round!
Again, I can see when there are times that this kind of post-processing could be useful, but again I feel that I want to be a photographer and not a computer expert …
Bauer, P. (2010) Photoshop® CS5 For Dummies®. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc.
Freeman, M. (2008) Mastering Digital Photography. East Sussex: The Ilex Press Limited
George, C. (n.d.) A Photographer’s Guide to Photoshop. Bath: Future Publishing Limited
Mikel, C. (n.d.) How to combine two photos in Photoshop [online article]. Available at: http://www.ehow.com/how_5886114_combine-two-photos-photoshop.html [Accessed 4 October 2013].
Walsh, J. (2010) Photoshop CS5: Michigan’s MI Learning, [iTunes U podcast]. Available from the iTunes store.