Learn to blend photos using Photoshop layer mask

Just to give you an idea about when to blend and what is the purpose, I see it is unlimited and only limited by your imagination. There are so many situations where blending is a must to produce highly creative images. For e.g. photos taken in entirely different situations, places, exposures, backgrounds or foregrounds etc. Be your work a portrait, landscape, fashion or any other type of photography, this technique surely adds more value to your final image. Believe me, blending is fun, creative and very useful technique, but how? Let us learn how to blend multiple images to create very attractive photos in 4 simple steps.

Here I have taken my recent Convict Lake shots to demonstrate blending process using Photoshop.

1. Bring images to Photoshop workspace

Select images to be blended and bring them to workspace. I guess you must have already noticed in below images. One looks darker and another brighter. Yes they do, because that is the way those were shot. So, we are correcting the problem by blending both images. In this demonstration I am trying to correct exposure of two images taken using different settings. In simple words, I want to bring top half of the first image to a second image by preserving its bottom half. That way, I can achieve uniform exposure throughout.

To blend landscape photos to correct exposure, I advise to use tripod while shooting and take multiple shots of same view using different exposure settings.


2. Drag and align both the images one on another

Drag one image on another by undocking the windows from Photoshop workspace (Press “V” to select and drag to align). Once you bring second image on top of first one (top one in below picture), Photoshop automatically creates a new layer as you can see in the layers panel on right. One layer for each image. Now, you can either close or minimize the second image (bottom one in below picture).


3. Add a layer mask

Please note that It doesn’t matter which one you chose first but do remember that there will be two images one on another after you have dragged and aligned both (see two layers below). Once you are sure to proceed, add a layer mask either by navigating to “Layer” menu on top or “Add a mask” icon from the bottom right under layers panel (one with a dot inside the rectangle). You can see a white rectangle next to your image as seen below.


4. Select gradient tool and mask unwanted part

At this time, you need to be sure about which part of your front image needs to be blended with bottom image. For e.g. in my case, I want to mask out over-exposed sky part on top (everything above mountain) by bringing rightly-exposed sky from bottom image to front. In order to to that, first select a gradient tool either by pressing “G” from the keyboard or from “Layer” menu from the top.


Now, as you can see from above picture. I placed my cursor where “+” sign is seen and dragged towards the edge to mask unwanted over-exposed sky. Boom! now I can see my final image like this:

Blacked out gradient in layer mask shows what exactly has been masked


Sunrise from Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes County

Isn’t it cool?

You can merge all the layers and save it. If you still want to process further, you can do too.

Try yourself!!!

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