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Article By Jimmy McIntyre

A big thank you to Hamish Niven for sending in his beautiful images for Challenge Jimmy. If you would like to take part in Challenge Jimmy, please send your initial jpegs (no RAWs please), to challengejimmymc@gmail.com.

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In today’s tutorial we look at a fantastic technique, which I call Matching. This will help us to blend just about any exposures in Photoshop, including difficult interiors, golden hour landscapes and cityscapes. This is actually one of the techniques I teach in the Mastering Raya Pro course.

One of the most common questions I get regarding exposure blending is how to avoid flattening the contrast in an image. At the extreme end, when we blend exposures, our final result will look like a negative – not at all natural. Or sometimes we end up stripping away the fine details in a scene. There are a few different ways to avoid this, but the tip shown in this video is arguably the most effective.

Essentially, we are matching to some degree the brightness values of the each exposure in ACR. We don’t have to match the exposures exactly. Just a small change can make a big difference. And with the brighter exposure, we don’t need to reduce the exposure level too much for the blend to look much more natural.

To use this technique it is essential to open our layers as Smart Objects straight from Adobe Camera RAW. To do that we just hold down shift before we press Open Images, and that will change to Open Objects. One problem with Smart Objects that we cannot align them as layers in Photoshop, so we must be shooting with a tripod to take full advantage of this.