Exercise 22: Addition

First of all, this exercise is divided in to 2 stages.

Stage one: multiple exposure technique

Stage two: superimposing images.

For the first stage, I am required to capture two images, on a day when there is overcast.

  • In one image, the clouds are perfectly captured (in the process the foreground is under exposed).
  • In the other image, foreground is exposed properly (resulting over exposed clouds/sky).

Off late, Singapore had been experiencing very grey sky (evident in my earlier two posts). That is the reason; I decided to do the exercise 23, before completing ex 22. However, there was a day with very dramatic sky, and I did take advantage of the weather.

I opened the above-mentioned two images, as smart objects in the Photoshop. I am used to doing this just in case the original layer needs any basic adjustments (accessing RAW file with this method is flawless, and saves a lot of time). Exercise brief specifies not to make any significant changes to the images. Hence, I have left the images, ‘as shot’. After that, I copied the lighter image on top of the darker image. With the help of the erase tool, I erased the sky of the lighter image. Due to this properly exposed sky, on the layer beneath is now visible. Then I fattened the layers and saved the image. See the result below.


(Results achieved by erase tool)

After that, I reverted the file to the state before erasing the sky. Selected “Magic wand” tool and changed the tolerance to 70. Clicked on the sky area with the “Magic Wand” > From the tool bar’s the Selection tab > selected refine selection > moved the sliders in the pop up window, till I achieved the desired selection > Clicked OK. Once the selection was highlighted, I hit the delete key. This deleted the over exposed sky, revealing the perfectly exposed sky underneath. After that, I flattened the layers and saved the image. See the result below:


(Results achieved by deleting the selection)

Both the results are quite comparable, and definitely sky and foreground details look more realistic. Between both the methods, the second method gives more control over the selection, and it was less time consuming.

However, as the exercise brief correctly mentions there are many ways to achieve the same results in Photoshop. In my opinion, above two methods (mentioned in the exercise brief) are very basic and actually have many negatives. Hence, I prefer the following method.

  • Open the lighter image (over exposed sky) as smart object
  • Paste the darker image (with sky correctly exposed) on the top layer
  • Add a layer mask
  • Select the brush with enough “feather” around it, changed the opacity to 80%
  • With the layer mask highlighted, paint the foreground with the black colour


Unlike the first two methods, this method actually gives more control over modifying the results. As long as, I save this psd file, I can go back to the file and make an adjustment to the selection or modify the effects and do much more. Whereas in the first two methods if, I have made a mistake or I feel like modifying the selection later I cannot do it without starting all over again.

Second Part: Superimposing the image

In this part, we are required to take the above image (or any other image with sky) and paste it in another photograph, in such a way that it looks like the part of the new image.

I have used the sky from the above image, and super imposed it in the new image by following the 2 different methods.

  1. Copying and pasting the sky
  2. Bit more extensive method generating more natural results

For the first method, I selected part of the sky and copy – pasted it on another image. This image was captured few years back in Jodhpur, India. Then selected an eraser brush with “feather” around it, and erased the unwanted area of the sky. See the image below:

Again, I have the same problem with the above method. If required, I would not be able to modify the image at later date. Hence, I would like to demonstrate the method I would normally follow.

Open the image with two men as a smart object > added a new layer > copied the other image (not part) on to this layer > Adjusted the positioning of the sky > added a layer mask > with the brush tool painted over the foreground (ensuring I am painting on the layer mask and not the layer > clicked on the layer containing sky > Changed the blending mode from “Normal” to “Hard Light” > clicked on the smart object on the bottom layer, and adjusted the exposure.

This method has blended the sky very well, and it looks very natural now. See the image below:


Conclusion: The first part of the exercise is more about managing camera’s limitations, by taking two multiple exposures and merging them. This ensures that the image we present to the viewers is closest to what our eyes had experienced. I would not hesitate to use this method to improve the travel images. However, I will keep away from any such adjustments, if the images were for any reportage.

In my opinion the second part of the exercise, is beyond my ethical boundaries. This is clearly tempering with the reality. Unless the photographer clarifies to the viewers about the alterations, putting up such image is violation of truth. Mention, it is digital manipulation or fine art, to indicate the use of imagination, and then I guess it should be reasonable.


One thought on “Exercise 22: Addition

  1. Aw, this was a really nice post. In thought I would like to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means appear to get something done.

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