Blending Exposures with Pixelmator and Lightroom Part 1

In this article we talk about how to blend exposures with Pixelmator.

Bonjour mes amis! For some of you who don’t have Photoshop but love to retouch photos and wants to do more that Lightroom well I found a solution; Pixelmator! It is a very cool software for mac only where you can find similar tool that you use in Photoshop and for only $30 so check it out here! Let me show you how I use it.

As usual, if you want the RAW files for this tutorial and all my other free presets and goodies; just subscribe to my newsletter here. You can also follow along on my video tutorial for this lesson here.

Here is a photo that I took in Florida of this nice safeguard house on the beach. This is the normal exposure:

This is the underexposed photo:

And this is the overexposed photo:

I shot this with a Sony A7r, it is such a great camera that I could have used only the normal exposure to have a nice photo. But I am going to show you how to work with the three exposures for any camera. When you have a contrasted sky go into the manual mode and play with the speed to have brighter and darker exposures in keeping the same aperture.

Today I am going to work only with the normal exposure for the sky and the overexposed one for the details on the house.

You need at least a proper exposed sky and a properly exposed foreground so you can put them together.

Step 1. Exposure adjustments. I want to lower the exposure -1,10 to make the overall photo darker and the sky more dramatic:

Step 2. Adjust White Balance. Then I choose the white balance daylight I think that it is the most appropriate white balance for this scene:

Step 3. Vibrance adjustments. Lightroom sliders make it really easy to add pop into your photos, and for this I want to make the red more present so I am going to go ahead and boost the vibrance +43 and I add some saturation +20:

I am done with the normal exposed photo; I don’t want to retouch it much because I just want to show you how to blend exposures more than the retouch itself.

Step 4. Exposure adjustments. So now the overexposed photo, I lower the exposure -1,35 a little bit because it is too bright:

Step 5. Clarity adjustments. I put clarity at +25 to make the photo more interesting:

Step 6. Adjust White Balance. I make sure to choose the same white balance: daylight to be able to mix them together:

Once you downloaded Pixelmator you have to go to Lightroom > Preferences:

In Lightroom, you go in the third tab call external editing there is the first editor Photoshop and then you see there is a second section where you can choose which software you want to use so I press choose:

You find your Pixelmator in your finder and choose it:

Make sure that you are in TIFF file, sRGB (it would have been better to have ProPhoto RGB but it is fine) and 8 bits:

Now you can right click on the normal exposure and click on edit > edit in Pixelmator:

You can press edit:

This is not a full tutorial on how to use Pixelmator, they have amazing tutorials on their website if you want to use it more, but I want to show you how I use it.

Back to Lightroom I do the same thing with the overexposed photo, I right click on it > edit > edit in Pixelmator:

Edit:

Now that I am in Pixelmator and that I have my overexposed photo on top I press command A to select it, command C to copy it and Command V to close the file:

Because I copied it, I can press delete:

Then I am on the normal exposure and I am going to press command V to paste the overexposed photo on top of the other one:

You can see on the right that there is layers like in Photoshop, so you have the first layer with the overexposed photo and the second photo with the normal exposed photo:

I use this pink pen which is a quick selection tool and it works like in Photoshop but it is less effective than Photoshop:

Then I brush the sky to select it:

It selected the house, which I don’t want so to unselect it I press the alt key and my brush becomes an eraser and unselect what I brush:

It is giving me a hard time because it is such a big file that it lag a bit but you also have an option to help you select it is: edit in Quick Mask mode:

Everything in red is what is not selected:

It takes a bit of practice to do it. It is lagging too much so I am not going to use it.

I unselect the roof in pressing the alt key:

Then I select the rest of the sky:

Then I select refine selection like in Photoshop, I adapt my brush to the part I want to select meaning I modify the diameter of the brush depending on the size of the selection:

To make sure that I don’t have a white halo around the house I add 1 pixel and 1% smooth:

Now that my sky is selected I take the second layer and move it on top:

Then I add a layer mask:

Now I press command D to deselect the house:

Here you go we have the both exposures mixed together. It doesn’t look very natural so we are going to fix this but otherwise it is really nice and they’re no halo around the house, which is nice. Then in the next article we are going to really blend the two together. So stay tune for tomorrow article.

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