I have recently started using a technique that keeps elements sharp that I want sharp and blurs the parts I want blurred. This technique involves taking two exposures at different shutter speeds and blending them into one photo using photo editing software. This is more advanced editing than I typically do on a photo but it can produce beautiful results.
Here's a recent example where I used this technique.
|1.6 sec, f/20, 24mm, ISO 800|
|1/30 sec, f/4, 24mm, ISO 1600|
|Histogram for first exposure|
|Histogram for second exposure|
To use this technique you also need to make sure the white balance is the same between the two photos. You can do this by not using auto white balance and setting the white balance on the camera or shooting in RAW mode and setting the white balance using photo editing software. Since I pretty much shoot RAW all the time I didn't worry about setting the white balance on the camera.
When I download the photos into Adobe Lightroom I have two photos that are almost identical except for the shutter speed. I need to take parts of each photo and blend them together into a new photo. I used Photoshop Elements version 11 to do this. You can use Photoshop for this, but I prefer Elements because it does everything I need and is only $65 versus over $600 for Photoshop CS6.
The blending technique using layers in Photoshop Elements is a bit advanced and more than I can cover here. There are many free resources online that explain how to use layers. Here are two video tutorials that are helpful:
- Working with Layers
- Blending Images with Layer Masks - this is pretty good and describes the technique I used.
These two photos were pretty easy to blend together using layer masks because there was good separation between the leaves and the water. If the water had been behind the leaves the layer mask would have been tedious and time consuming to create. This is something to remember when composing the shot.
I saved the blended photo as a new file then used Lightroom to adjust the contrast, clarity, saturation, sharpness, and add a vignette.
|New Blended Photo|
- No camera movement between shots - camera on a tripod.
- Tonality of the two images as close as possible - shoot quickly.
- Two images must have the same white balance.
- Compose to minimize visual overlap of the elements to be blended.