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Merging Images

Lesson 9 from: Lightroom Desktop for the Photo Enthusiast

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

9. Merging Images

Learn how to combine HDR and Panoramic image sets in Lightroom Desktop quickly and how to get great looking and natural looking images.

Lesson Info

Merging Images

now we are just about to the point where we're going to start working on images. But before we do, before we go into the adjustment phase and start working on our images and perfecting them. There's something that we need to do when we've been doing travel photography, things like that. We're going to look at the grid because there's certain images that I have created that are dependent on emerge before I edit them. So I can tell that because you can see that there's a dark one here, there's a medium one here and the light one there, that's called an HD are. So if I hit the shift key and click on all three. So I've got images and those three images are overexposed regular exposure and under exposure because there was too much contrast in the situation you can see here that if I if I was getting the sky correct, then it was really dark in the the actual shed here or the barn. But if I was getting the barn correct here. Where I was getting full information in the shadows. I wasn't getti...

ng much information. I wasn't getting much information in the clouds and so I need all three of them to get lots of information so I can do whatever I want with this photograph. Now when I do that, I'm just simply turning my camera into HDR mode and I've told my camera to give me all three raw images and it's fine if it spins off a J Peg in the camera so you can see what it looks like. But you really want to make sure that it has those three raw images so that then when you bring them in, you'll actually see them in the grid, you'll know it's an HDR because you see that under normal over. Um and then, and by the way, your camera has the ability to choose what order it shoots those images in. My preference is most start with normal and then over and under, my preference is to have it go under normal over or over normal under so that you see them in a succession that way, when you're here inside of Lightroom, you actually see them dark medium light and sometimes you'll actually get to here and you'll say, oh, this actually looks fine and I've got plenty of information in the sky and I've got plenty of information in the in the shadows. And so I don't even need the other two and you can toss them. But when you make an HDR image inside of Lightroom, you're actually creating a raw image that has lots of depth to it. So if you have the the images, you might as well make the HDR because the HDR has so much more depth and you can do so much more with it. So, and it doesn't take very long either. It's just a matter of highlighting those three images and right clicking it and then going to the merge the photo merge area and clicking on HDR and then it pulls up this dialog box so what it's doing is it's creating a look how beautiful that is. I've got so much information and it was very easy to make and so just so that you're aware, there are some settings that you can use auto align automatically, aligns all the images. And so I was hand holding this, it's not like I had a tripod, it was just hand holding it HDR Hold the trigger down, it shoots three images and then I walk away and it did a good job at just giving me a good general auto settings too. You can see it says apply auto settings. If I turn that off, this is what it looks like. It looks fairly dingy but this is just the auto settings to show you what kind of magic could be done with this. And then there's this d ghosting amount now. De ghosting is when you have moving items in the photographs. So if you have people walking across the prairie or if you have clouds moving or if you have, you know something floating down the water or something like that where there's a moving object, then the d ghosting will will actually choose one of the photos to make the objects stand still and then use the other two photos to remove the object and then it'll kind of merge them together. It's pretty crazy that it can do it and it does it decently well but you have to choose how much ghosting you're allowed. And so we're allowing all ghosting because nothing's really moving here, all that much. Um you will need ghosting when you have trees, so sometimes the trees are moving and you don't want to branches and so the ghosting will help to get those branches together. Um so you just simply drag ghosting up and it will give you more or less ghosting and it'll show you what it's gonna, what it's gonna look like and what areas are being ghosted. But um we don't have any ghosting in this area, so now we're just gonna go up to the merge button, click on merge and now it's merging those three images together into one and we'll have an H. There it is. So there's the HDR image notice that it has a little four up in the top right hand corner. And that's because those four images, there are four images now instead of three. And the top one is the HDR. And then the four images, if I click on that, it opens up a little panel down here that shows you these are all the images involved. This is the dark one, this is the medium one, this is the HDR. So notice that it has this little mountain icon in the top right hand corner. If I want one of these other photos to be the top of the stack. I simply grab the other photo and drag it onto that little four icon or that four square photo right there that represents the top stack ah basically the thumbnail and so I drag it on and let go and now that one becomes the top of the stack, you can see it up here, it's the top of the stack, but we actually want the HDR image to be the top of the stack. So then all I have to do is come down here and click on this little X and it closes that stack so the stack opens down here at the bottom. So I just click on the floor, it opens the stack, I can see what's involved in the stack, but most of the time I won't need to look at the stack ever again. So I'm going to do the same thing here, highlight all of these right click and I'm going to go down to the photo merge and HDR merge, merge and it's going to do a great job without any settings. There you go. See, I've got all that information and I can play with it later. So I'm just going to merge them now so that I can work on them later. So this is something you have to do before you start going into working on the images. So I'm always going to scan through and look for any kind of an HDR, I'm also going to start looking for any kind of a panoramic so you can see that I've got this panel image here, I'm going to highlight all of those right click them and I'm going to go down to photo merge again and I'm going to merge the panoramic. So it's going to look for all of those images and it's going to stitch them together into one big huge panoramic image. So we're waiting, it's going to create a preview and while we're waiting, notice that there are three different options here. There's a spherical option, there's a sense cylindrical option and there's a perspective option. Now when you're creating just like when you create an HDR at camera, there's also a good and a bad way to make a panoramic image. And so the best way to make a panoramic images to make sure that you shoot it vertically, not horizontally. I know you're shooting like a panorama like this, but shoot it vertically so that you get the most height on that shot and then you're going to vertically, go from left to right or right to left, doesn't matter. And you'll shoot an overlap by at least a third every single time. So you're shooting a lot of the same thing over and over and over again. But if you overlap by a third or even a half is fine and just shoot a whole bunch that will give the computer a whole bunch of information to make the merge really well, if you don't give it much information, you don't overlap it very much, it's not going to have much information to merge the shot. And so notice that mine isn't all that extra wide, but I've got lots of data from the top to the bottom, so it's a much bigger file this way. And because I shot it over and over and over again, I've got a lot of data that way. So it's really big. Now when you're talking about spherical versus cylindrical versus perspective, think of it as um there are three different projection methods and the projection is think if you were inside of a beach ball and we were projecting the scene inside of the beach ball because it was all around you. That's usually what you'll use. That's like the most common way to do a projection is inside that beach ball or spherical because you're shooting it vertically and and the, the edges of the camera bowing a little bit. So you have stuff above you and you just have stuff below you and it kind of bows and so then you're you're going this way and you're going this way. Now if you're shooting a long way away, so that there's there's no bow and say you're shooting with a really long lens and you're you're shooting a panorama across something that's way out there, then that might be more cylindrical in nature and so you might choose cylindrical in that case, um it kind of keeps things fairly straight. It doesn't both things as much. And so when you're shooting stuff long way away and there's nothing underneath your feet and there's nothing above you. Then consider using spherical or cylindrical. And then perspective is when you're actually shooting with actual perspective that you can see like cityscapes and you're in the middle of something and there's there's a, there's an actual perspective, there's actually lines converging and things. Then you have to give it that perspective option. But that is so rare. I've never really found an image where the perspective option really works. And so an architectural photographer will probably find it works if you're shooting a panorama inside of a city. So just be aware that there are three different options. Now there's also an option for boundary warp. So you see how as I was turning and I'm not I'm not using a tripod, I'm just hand holding this and going, you know, shot by shot by shot. So I'm just moving, you know, from left to right. Um and so I I'm not perfectly steady on on making this the swing and so you can see that I'm lower on the left than I am on the right and there's a lot of white space that's created. And so I have two options for getting rid of that white space. I can either use a boundary warp, which basically just stretches the photo till it fills the entire rectangle. So watch what happens when I grabbed that and I stretch it, it just stretches it up and actually most of the time it works really well to do that and it actually helps to take the horizon line and straighten it back up, but sometimes it might not, maybe it starts to warp it a little bit too much or it does something weird. And so then we can use this fill edges option and when we do that, it actually just computes the edges and says, well there's sky there, so let's just add more sky, there's water here, so let's add more water and it does a great job. I mean it actually fixed the whole thing, it looks great. And so I have two options, boundary warp or fill edges. Either one just try them both and see which one you like most of the time it works better when you do the boundary warp um simply because it's still using the real information, but if it starts to do weird things, try using the fill edge option and find out which one works best, it gives you a preview, so you can, you can tell which one is going to be best. Um and then the last way that you can do it is if none of those work, you can always just do an auto crop and it will just crop out those white edges, which is the perfect way to do it, if none of those other options work. And so I like the way it looks with the cropped edge as well. So we'll just stick with the cropped edge and I'm going to hit OK, so we're just going to merge this set and it's gonna take a while to do it because there's a lot of data that it has to put together, but once it's done, it's going to stack all those images. So I have one image representing this entire stack and I'll never even have to look at this stack again and there we have it. It's finished the merge. So this is what the final image looks like. And if I zoom in just by hitting the command plus button, I'm zooming in this really is quite impressive. It's got lots of information but look, I'm trying to find some kind of an edge and we've got moving water and it's probably see where it blurs a little bit here. That's probably one of the areas where it had to merge some waves together. Um but the rocks are perfectly stitched, I'm just having a hard time seeing any place where it did a bad job merging the images. So it's a really fantastic way to get your images merged really quickly. So when you're out there in the field, don't hesitate to get a couple hdrs, don't hesitate to get some panels because it's that easy to stitch all those together or to merge all those hdrs together and you are going to then be working on these magnificently beautiful files um but it does take that initial pass through to look at those images and say, okay, which ones am I gonna use now when you're talking about panels and HDRs remember that as you're looking through the photos themselves. If it's an HDR, just look at the middle one Before you merge it just look at the Middle one and make sure that you like whether it's sharp, make sure that you like the composition on it. Things like that. Don't merge every single one of your HDRs. Just look at the middle one. Figure out whether it's worth even working on and if it's not just pass it over, you can just reject the ones you don't like. And also keep in mind that you can look at the panels and you can get a sense of what that panel is going to look like by just having the images close together like this, it's harder if you're in the grid mode to see what that panel is gonna look like. But when you're in the masonry mode it's pretty easy to see what that panel is gonna look like and that looks like it'll be a pretty good panorama. So I can simply shift, click all of these, right, click them and I can merge to a panel and and then I'm going to approve whether or not it's even worth doing once I see the preview. Um and so once I see the preview then I can either cancel it if I think and this is not going to be worth anything or I can say, yep, I definitely want that image. So I'm looking at it and I'm thinking, yeah, I think I want that panorama, you had to hike a ways in order to get to this and I just didn't have the right lens. I had only brought a 24 millimeter too, I think 105. And so I needed to get a wider shot than 24 millimeters to get this shot. So I shot the panoramic and so spherical is the right choice boundary warp will probably work on this. Yeah, because there's nothing in there that makes it obvious that I was just bending the photograph so that works for me. A boundary warp is always good. And so now I'm just gonna hit merge and so now I have a really great pano and keep in mind that I can always go to that panel and if I'm super happy with it, if I click on that stack of photos, I can always go in and highlight all of these pano images here. And if I'm happy I can go in and right click that whole set and I can say remove these 15 photos from the stack or I can even delete the 15 photos right from under the stack. So if I'm happy and I never want to use these again. And I just want to use that pano, feel free to delete or remove those from the stack because maybe you don't need them anymore. But in this case I'll just close that panoramic and boom, I've got a great panel that I can play with. Oh and here's one more tip. Keep in mind that panoramic do not have to be left to right, right to left. Uh consider this is an option. I'm in the redwood forests with my family and friends and I want to get a shot of one of these redwoods but there is no way I don't have a lens for it. mm does not show that tall a tree. I just can't see it. If I go to a photo emerge and I use the panoramic image. Look at that. I've got a really great panoramic of a vertical shot. And so a vertical pano is perfectly acceptable and it works great. So now I can either do a boundary warp and that straightens up that tree and actually straightens up my kind of wobbliness as I was doing the pano. Um and now I've got a great panorama of the kids next to this crazy tall tree. And keep in mind that a panoramic image does not necessarily have to be right to left or up to down. It can also be just a grid of photos and Lightroom will actually stitch that grid together. It'll find the commonalities and if you shoot, you know, a set of three images on top three images in the middle and three images on the bottom, it'll stitch all that together into one big square photograph. So be creative about the way you use panoramic stitching because it will do a lot more than you think it will do. Um and also Hdr is pretty interesting as well. You can do some uh interesting tests. I've actually merged birds and so I have three shots that are equal in exposure but they have birds moving around them and I want more birds and I just merge the three shots and it merges the birds. And so then I have three photos all the same exposure and I've got extra birds in the shot. So you can do a little bit of playing and creativity with just these, these ideas of these panels and and Hdr merge because you're just merging a bunch of photos together. But that's how you do it. But it's very important that you do this first. So that then when we get into the adjustment phase and start working, we can spend our time working on the images and not have to go back to merge these photos

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