There are few environments more challenging to properly expose than an airplane cockpit. The outside is bright and the inside is very dark. Luckily there are some great tools we can use in Photoshop to overcome this. First you’ll need to take a bracketed series of images. Meaning one at a -3 ev, 0 ev, and +3 ev. This just means you’re shooting one image 3 stops darker than normal, one normal shot, and one image 3 stops brighter. Most cameras will have a function that you can do this all at once while holding down your shutter button. The results should look like this.
You need to keep the camera as steady as possible. If your camera can shoot the images all at once while holding down the shutter, you only need a steady hand. If you have to stop and change the exposure manually in between each image then a tripod is your only option.
Next we need to bring all the images into Photoshop! Open your 0 ev shot.
Once you have your picture open in the raw editor, drag the highlights slider down to -50 and the shadows slider up to +50. Then open image. Do this with all three exposures you have.
Once you have all three images open, click and hold on one of the images, then drag it up to the first image you have open on the top left of your screen. You should now have three layers in your image.
Next select all the layers. You can do this by clicking the top layer, then holding shift, and clicking the bottom layer. Then click on “edit > auto align layers” at the top menu of your screen. You should get a prompt that looks like this:
If you shot with a lens that has vignetting, check the vignetting removal box, otherwise leave it on auto and click ok.
Next well need to add layer masks to the -3 and +3 shots. Click the top layer, and then select the layer mask button on the layers panel
Do the same process for the second layer. We wont need a layer mask for the base 0 ev layer.
Now if you are not familiar with layer masks, here it is in a nutshell. White = on, black = off. So when your layer mask is selected, you can essentially paint that layer either on or off using the paintbrush tool. It also works with gradients, or any other tool you would normally use to paint, draw, etc.
To start the actual blending process I like to use an additive method. Meaning I start with the base zero exposure and add the detail back to the shadows and the highlights. Click on one of the layer masks (the white square in the layers panel) and then press CTRL I. that will turn off the layer mask. Its essentially just making the white square black. Remember white = on, black = off.
Now were ready to blend! I start with the shadows first, click on your layer one layer mask (the +3 ev shot thats brightest) then click on the brush tool. Select a brush size thats appropriate for the area you are going to paint, then set the flow to 10%.editing, free tutorial, jamesfleishelphotography, learn, photoshop, tutorial