Two Exposures, One Pleasing Autumn Vineyard

Using Shift-Drag in Photoshop CS5 to stack two photos in a layered document...

Fortunately I had a camera with me when I came upon this colorful vineyard during the late afternoon on Saturday. I didn't have much time to "work the shot," so I made two exposures: one for the sky and the other for the foreground.

Autumn Barn, Sonoma County Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.


Then in Photoshop, I stacked the two images to create a layered document (hold down the Shift key and drag one photo on to the other.) I then clicked on the top layer, held down the Option key, clicked on the Vector Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and created a mask. Now, with the brush tool set to white, I can reveal the areas from the top layer that I like (the sky) and combine it with the vineyard from the bottom layer.

This two-shot technique allows me to work fast in the field, then quickly composite the image in Photoshop. It's not HDR, but it works nicely.

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You're right, it's not HDR -- it's so much better than HDR. I never would have pegged your photo as combining different exposures -- it looks completely natural, unlike almost all HDR I see.

I have to agree with Joe. This is nice smooth work flow to achieve a nice, realistic looking photo.