Exposure Blending: The Complete Guide From Camera to Process

Cover to free Exposure Blending eBook course.

100+ page ebook • 8 videos • 7 image files

Free to download when you subscribe by email!

Exposure blending is a revolutionary digital darkroom technique that will assist you in overcoming the limitations of your camera and capture a scene with the full tonal range you witnessed in the field. This is a common challenge for any area of photography, but landscape photographers find this especially difficult since we typically can not manipulate or alter the ambient light. You’ve probably recognized this challenge in your own work: an overexposed sky, a foreground with crushed shadows, or a disappointing combination of the two. The incredible detail and light you witnessed in person has disappeared, and you instead go home with a lackluster representation of the beauty you intended to capture.

In this free step-by-step course, I discuss the entire process of exposure blending by detailing my personal workflow from autobracketing in the field to blending exposures together in Adobe® Photoshop – available at no cost.

To receive your free copy, subscribe by email via the form below and you’ll be sent instructions on how to download the 100+ page eBook, 45 minutes of video instruction, and 7 image files instantly.

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This free eBook course will detail how to go from the before to the after with step-by-step instructional videos.

Since your camera sensor is limited to one aperture and one shutter speed across the same frame, it’s difficult to capture a scene with a dynamic tonal range without some areas falling outside of your selected exposure, which produce blown highlights and/or crushed shadows.This will result in a landscape with a washed out sky, a darkened foreground, or disappointing combination of both. Exposure blending is a revolutionary digital darkroom technique that allows you to recover this lost data for a more accurate representation of the beauty you saw in the field.

By using a combination of written instructions and step-by-step video tutorials, I’ll teach you how to achieve a seamless blend of exposures so you can fully enjoy your photography by overcoming the limitations of your camera.

Page samples from the free photography course on exposure blending with luminosity masks.

Page samples from the free eBook course on exposure blending with luminosity masks.

Simply put, in order to capture the full tonal range of a scene that extends outside of what your sensor can render, you’ll need to combine different exposures together. The number of exposures you need depends on how large your tonal range is, but typically you’ll have one exposure exposed for your highlights (a faster shutter speed to limit light), one for your shadows (a slower shutter speed to let more light in), and your base exposure (the average exposure between your highlights and shadows).This is where the term “bracketing” comes in since you’re creating a bracket that encapsulates your entire tonal range, from brightest to darkest.

Exposure blending can also be referred to as HDR blending in the sense that we’re expanding the tonal range, however this method will create a more natural looking image than tone-mapping with automated software. With exposure blending, you have much more control over the end result by manually choosing exactly where you want to blend your exposures together, and at what strength you want that blend to be. It’s a method that is entirely customizable to your scene, which will produce a more pleasing result.

What’s Included in the Exposure Blending eBook Course:

  • 100+ Page eBook: This extensive guide provides in-depth instruction on every aspect of exposure blending, from the in-the-field workflow with your camera to the final touches in Photoshop. I also take detours to explain important concepts that contribute to a better blending experience, such as the importance of RAW format and how to create your own luminosity masks.
  • 8 Video Tutorials: Photoshop processing workflows can be quite difficult to grasp by simple screenshots, so I have created 8 video tutorials that walk you through the entire blending process. I explain every step to blending brackets of three different scenes together, and also address how to avoid and reverse common nuisances of blending, such as sensor bloom, ghosting, and halos.
  • 7 Image Files:  To accompany the eBook and video tutorials, I’ve also included all of the image files used so you can process along with me for an easier flow of learning.

To download your copy, first you’ll need to subscribe to my email updates by filling out the form below:

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What editing program do you use for this eBook?

The actual blending of exposures is completed using Photoshop CC, but previous versions of Photoshop should be able to execute the workflows described.

Can I use this eBook for other processing programs such as Lightroom and GIMP?

The step-by-step instructions in this eBook are executed in Photoshop CC, however the basic workflow can be applied to any editing program that utilizes layers and layer masks. For example, the controls for your brush tool in Photoshop will be slightly different for GIMP, yet the process will be the same.

Lightroom does not come with layer functionality out-of-the-box, but you can purchase additional software that will give you layering ability – which means you can apply this workflow to your own photographs. onOne Software is the publisher of Perfect Layers, which is what I recommend for Lightroom users.

Do I need to know anything about my camera first?

If you’re a complete beginner to photography and have no idea how to use your manual settings, this book is still for you. I have included links to my Photography 101 tutorials which cover all you need to know to understand everything in this eBook.

What kind of format is the download in?

The Exposure Blending eBook course is downloaded as a Zip file, also known as a compressed file format. Inside the Zip file you’ll find the eBook, image folders, and a video folder. Zip files can be opened and accessed using a number of different devices, including laptop and desktop computers, iPhone or Android devices, iPads, and other tablets.

If for some reason you are not sure you’ll be able to access this file or have trouble doing so, feel free to email me.

Much frustration stems from having a limited amount of creative avenues to pursue when you approach a scene – and since the environment has countless variables, your creative process is more likely to become blocked when the workflows you have learned do not apply. Like with all my eBooks, I hope to provide you with new ideas and creative paths to take, and to inspire you to overcome any plateaus you may reach.

Complete eBook Collection: 25% Discount

You can now own my entire landscape photography eBook collection at a discount if purchased as a single transaction.

Sign up for email updates to receive your FREE Exposure Blending eCourse!

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Comments

    • Christopher says

      Hi Tim –

      Since you’re already an email subscriber you can download the eBook via the link sent out in my newsletter today. If you did not receive it, please let me know and I’ll send you a direct link.

      If you already have The Golden Hours and this eBook looks familiar to you, you’re right. I took the same guide that I included for The Golden Hours and updated it, adding 10 additional pages of new information. I also revamped the step-by-step instructions, using screenshots from Photoshop CS6 with an improved example photo.

      I hope you enjoy it Tim and many thanks for your interest in my eBooks :)

      • Monty Lee says

        So if we own “The Golden Hours” and this book is basically the same with 10 new pages, is there an upgrade path for this book?

        • Christopher says

          Hi Monty –

          This upgraded version of the Exposure Blending guide is for email subscribers only. If you’re already subscribed, you should have received an email with the download link this morning. This isn’t an update for The Golden Hours, but rather for the free exposure blending guide that comes with it – soon I will update that guide as well.

          • Bernette says

            where would I look for the free downloaded book? Can’t seem to find an would love to start reading it.

          • Christopher says

            Hi Bernette –

            Downloads are saved to a specific folder on your computer, usually called Downloads. Try searching your computer for “exposure_blending” and it should come up as that it the name of the file. Hope this helps :)

      • Christopher says

        Hi Vikas –

        It depends on your camera and if you have manual control over your settings. Even if your camera doesn’t have auto-bracketing, you can still bracket your scene by manually changing your settings…it will just take a bit more time and effort. Most newer compact cameras will allow you to control your manual settings. I explain how to manually bracket a scene in the eBook so you’ll be good to go as long as you can set your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

  1. Andrew says

    Hi Chris, another fabulous eBook, thanks for taking the time to publish the material and for making it free :)

    One question I have through the book you are working with a panorama image which you have ‘stitched’. I have 2 questions.
    1. I’d like to know how you took the shots to actually make the three images, ie did you take 3 x images as you panned your camera?
    2. Was there any other ‘special’ work required to stitch each of the photos together to make the 3 x images, before you took us through the blending process?

    Thanks again

    Andrew (Australia)

  2. Jared Fein says

    Everything was so clearly and logically explained and illustrated in your eBook Chris. Well done!! I have dabbled in HDR and you have convinced me to pursue exposure blending. If I can make one suggestion it would be to provide the raw files used in the eBook post processing section to enable the reader to more easily apply the steps described.

    • Christopher says

      Thank you Donna! I’ve been wanting to create video tutorials since the last release in December so I hope you find them helpful!

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