A beautiful landscape, portrait or interior is made of many details and, depending on the time of day or year, these details can disappear as a photograph of the scene records areas with overly-dark shadows or bathed in blinding sunlight. We’ve learned earlier how using contrasts with the Curves Layer tool or using Dodge & Burn appropriately can immensely improve a photograph.

Another way to keep all details exactly how we want them in the final photograph without having to compromise between losing the sunlit areas versus the shadow areas is to take several photographs with the camera set on a tripod to keep the camera taking the same exact frame each time. The final image will be made from a series of the same shot taken, say, over a whole day, then imported as layers into the same document. Each layer provides worthy details that can be selected through creating layer masks and painting areas or details in or out of each layer on the mask. The resulting image becomes a composite of all the “hide” and “reveal” work done with the paint brush at variable degrees of opacity or intensity.

In the instance below, I chose an interior scene, and took 15 photographs starting around 8:00 AM and completing the series around 6:00 PM, adding ambient lighting available in the room for the last 3 shots. I then masked and revealed details from 11 of the series of 15 photos.

Here’s a first photo, early:

01web_gen-look

Here’s another, taken around noon:

05web_wood-floor_0004

Here’s another, taken with added interior lights:

10web_red-pillow_carpet_0009

HERE’S THE FILE IN PROGRESS:

16web_hdr-couch-w-layers

Combined with masks and painting appropriate details in or out, here’s the final result:

17web_hdr-couch_sm

and the “publishable” result, straightened:

18web_hdr-couch_sm_straight

High Dynamic Range is a terrific technique I wholly recommend!

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