How to do Digital Blending with GIMP & Lightroom

In this article we talk about how to do Digital Blending with GIMP and Lightroom

Hello my friend! Are you ready to learn some cool tricks to make your photo a dream come true? Well today is your lucky day because I am going to show you how you can do some Digital Blending with GIMP, it is a free software that is made to do some digital blending if you don’t have Photoshop. It is the first time I use it and I have a to say it is pretty good, it does the trick even if I think that it is a bit slow. So let’s start!

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Sometimes a struggle that I have with landscape photography is that you have a nice sky and water, you want to capture everything so what I do is that I take a photo exposed for the sky and a photo exposed for the water to get the silky water effect:

Then the idea is to do some digital Blending, meaning to bland the two photos together. I am going to use GIMP, which you can find here.

You can download it for free! Now to make the software communicate with Lightroom you have to go to Lightroom > preferences >

Go to the third tab called external editing then press choose:

Choose the software GIMP:

Make sure that you select: TIFF, sRGB and 8 bits not 16 bits even if we are loosing some quality it is going to make the retouch faster:

First I am going to retouch the photo for the sky and then the second photo for the bottom part of the photo:

Step 1. Adjust the Highlights and Shadow. First thing I did was I brought the highlights to -100 and the shadows to +100 as usual. (If you’ve read my tutorials or watched my videos, you know this is part of my workflow. You can get a more complete statement on why I do this in almost all my photographs by reading this how to article here.)

Step 2. Adjust the Whites and the Blacks. Next I will increase my whites to +47 and my black to -20. (If you’ve read my tutorials or watched my videos, you know this is part of my workflow. You can get a more complete statement on why I do this in almost all my photographs by reading this how to article here.)

Step 3. Adjust White Balance. I choose the white balance Shade to make the photo warmer then I adjust the Temp to 8408 and the Tint to +9:

Step 4. Clarity adjustments. I put Clarity at +34 to give more character to the photo and then I add +27 of Vibrance because the Clarity takes some Vibrance out of the photo:

Step 5. Apply some Noise Reduction. Because it was dark the photo is pretty grainy so I put the Noise Reduction at 30 and the Sharpening at 70:

But it sharpened the sky which we don’t want so I go to Masking and in pressing the alt key I move the cursor to the right to 44 until the sky get pitch black and then that means that the sky will not be sharp:

Step 6. Enable Profile Corrections. Go to the Lightroom Lens Corrections panel and choose Enable Profile Corrections. It is a simple thing that can remove distortion caused by the spherical nature of the lens glass. Then I Remove the chromatic aberration

because you usually get chromatic aberration when you shoot towards the sun:

I like the top of the photo but not the bottom because it looks grungy:

I select both photos and press on Synch to synchronize the retouch of the first photo, I want to make sure that I have the same White Balance:

Then I correct the retouch on the second photo because everything doesn’t apply to the second photo.

Step 7. Adjust the Highlights and Shadow. I bring the highlights to -36 and the shadows to +55 not the usual:

Step 8. Exposure adjustments. I want to lower the exposure to make the overall photo darker:

Once I have done that I right click on the first shot and press edit in GIMP app:

It is going to create a TIFF file then, I do the same thing with the second photo:

Here we are in GIMP, I am going to set the windows in the Single-window mode so I have one tab with the first photo and the second tab with the other photo:

On the upper right corner you can see the two different tap so what I am going to do is, I press shift and I take the second tab and drag it on top of the first one:

It is going to put the first photo on top of the second one as you can see on the left, like two layers:

I want to create a mask to blend both photos so I right click and select add layer mask:

x

It is going to open this window, and I am going to add a white full Opacity mask:

Then I click on the white mask and select a very soft brush:

I select this brush:

And I make sure that I have the black on the foreground and the white in the background for that I press and click on the foreground square:

Now I just brush over the bottom part of the photo to make the “overexposed” photo appear:

I set the Opacity at 100:

Once I brushed over the bottom we are done with the GIMP and I export the photo:

I export it as a PSD:

Back in Lightroom I right click on one photo and I go in my folder library where it was exported. So I look in my folder May 2013 and I synchronize folder:

It founds the photo so I import it:

I put it with the other photos. We really got the best of both photos, which is pretty cool. So now let’s double process this photo!

Step 9. Adjust the Highlights and Shadow. I bring the Highlights to -37 and the Shadows to +38:

Step 10. Adjust the Whites and the Blacks. Next I will increase my whites to +22 and my black to -27:

Step 11. Clarity adjustments. I put Clarity at +34 that is really going to define the edges but I don’t like what it does on the water but I will fix this after, then I add some Vibrance +26 to make it pop:

Step 12. Exposure adjustments. I want to lower the Exposure a little bit and add some Yellow +6 and some Magenta +9:

Step 13. Start adding Graduated Filters. I don’t like what Clarity did on the bottom of the photo so I am going to create a Graduated Filter and I lower the Clarity -100 and I also lower the Sharpness to -55 to really make the water smoother and silkier:

To close the photo I create a new Graduated Filter and I lower the Exposure -1;12 so we center the interest on the beautiful Pont Neuf bridge:

So here is the before photo:

And here is the photo with both photo mixed together:

Pretty cool right? I hope that you liked those tips and tricks and it inspired you to do digital blending because it really brings your photo to the next level and makes the photo look amazing! So if you liked those tips then share it with the world.

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