Hey Jason F! Help W/ stacking

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Hey man, was wondering if you could give me a step by step on how you stacked those photos. I still can not seem to figure it out. I've got a ton of lightning shots from exactly the same spot on a tripod and would love to stack them. I can't even get the photos lined up right much less figure out how to use the opacity slider. Help would be greatly appreciated and if anyone else wants to chime in feel more than welcome.
 

Browtine

Senior Member
Hey man, was wondering if you could give me a step by step on how you stacked those photos. I still can not seem to figure it out. I've got a ton of lightning shots from exactly the same spot on a tripod and would love to stack them. I can't even get the photos lined up right much less figure out how to use the opacity slider. Help would be greatly appreciated and if anyone else wants to chime in feel more than welcome.
If your version of Photoshop has the Photomerge command under File>Automate, try that. If they're close to the same it should stack and align them for you pretty well. Then you can play with layer masks to show or hide parts of each layer until you get what you want.

You can stack and align manually, but it may require "Transforming" each layer to get perfect alignment. That is part of the process PS uses to align when you use the Photomerge or Merge to HDR commands to combine shots. Can be a pain by hand, but it can be done...

And Layer Masks would work MUCH better for blending in areas of one shot into another than the opacity slider. Layer Masks happens to be one of the most powerful things in PS to me. It's well worth spendin' an afternoon or two, or one of those sleepless nights googlin' tutorials on layer masks.
 
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Browtine

Senior Member
I just snapped three shots of the window in my front door just to show what Photomerge can do. I purposefully shot three shots as I slightly panned the camera downward so that there was no way they'd line up naturally. I simply chose the Photomerge command, browsed and chose my three files, checked the Blend Images Together and Geometric Distortion Correction options, and let it do it's things. I had to crop the final image since the shots didn't line up and there was some dead space around the compiled photo, but as you can see, it aligned them pretty well. The lines of the framing were pretty sharp considering it came from three purposefully different handheld frames.

You might not want to use the Blend option, and rather do your blending of the lightning bolts by hand using layer masks, but for this, it was fine.

Edited to add an animated GIF showing how different the three frames I merged were in alignment... I learned something. Had never made an animated GIF in PS. ;)
 

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Browtine

Senior Member
Added an animated GIF to show how out of alignment my three shots were...
 

JasonF

Senior Member
Jason, you might take Browtines advise as I'm not even sure if my way is the best...I just kinda made up my own way.

But since you asked...

My blended shot consisted of 4 shots all taken with a tripod so they were perfectly aligned, which made life easier.

First, I opened all 4 shots in photoshop. I then copied picture #1 and pasted it onto picture #2. This created a new layer on picture #2.
Then in the layers pallet, I selected overlay and adjusted the opacity to whichever level I felt looked right...I think it was around 50%.
I then seleced picture #3 and copied and pasted it onto picture #2, selected overlay again and adjusted the opacity.
Finally I selected picture #4, copied, pasted, selected overlay and adjusted the opacity once again.
After all 4 shots were stacked and looked right, I flattened the image and then made my adjustments to the stacked version.
There is no doubt that the use of layer masks would improve your overall image but unforunately, I haven't learned how to use layer masks.

Again, there is probably a better way at achieving the look your after but this is how I stacked my shots.
 

Browtine

Senior Member
Since this got linked in the tutorials thread I thought I'd link to my primer on layer masks here so anyone who finds this thread from there can also find it, too if they want to check it out. I can't stress enough how valuable layer masks are to me in editing my photos. ;)

My Photoshop Layer Mask Primer...
 
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