the art of digital blending review

 

Stop Creating Mediocre Image

Have you ever looked at the images you spent hours in post-processing and didn't like it in the end?

Do you feel you're just wasting your time?

Would you like to learn how the Raw image below is transformed using luminosity masks?

If you've answered yes to any of the questions, The Art of Digital Blending might be the course for you.

 

I love HDR and I used to shoot almost everything in HDR. Soon, it became a routine to bracket exposure without even thinking.

HDR software was my best friend, it automated my workflow and processed them all the same way.

My images looked the same - uninspired, stale and repetitive. I was feeling depressed, stuck in a dead end and tired of my mediocre images. I didn't know what I could do to get inspired, to advance myself to the next level.

If you can relate to my story in any way, you're just like me before I discovered exposure blending.

No time to read? Jump straight to review summary.

Or, buy via Jimmy's website and receive a FREE video tutorial on 11 Tips To Speed Up Your Blending Workflow!

 

How Important Is Being Creative In Post-Processing To You?

The fist question you should ask yourself before spending your money is how much do you want a breakthrough from your routine?

Are you comfortable with basic image post-processing in Photoshop?

If you're a newbie in photography or HDR, I recommend you take one of the free courses on Udemy to consolidate your basic photography knowledge, the HDR course by Trey Ratcliff or the Photoshop 101-301 by Phlearn.

Otherwise, do continue to read on.

The Art of Digital Blending is for you if:

  • You like to learn advanced image post-processing technique
  • You're weary of the repetitive routine of using HDR software
  • Want to create natural and clean HDR image with exposure blending
  • Want to learn and explore the possibilities of luminosity masks

 

The creator of the course - Jimmy McIntyre, is well known for his work in traveling and landscape photography. You can learn more about Jimmy here.

about jimmy mcintyre

 

Transform Your Images With The Art of Digital Blending

In all honesty, this is one of the video courses that actually change the way I photograph and post-process my images.

The 2 post-processing technique that you will learn:

  • How luminosity masks work and how to use it in your workflow
  • How to blend multiple exposures using luminosity masks to create beautiful and natural HDR images

 

If you've never heard of luminosity masks, read our Kickstarter's Guide To Luminosity Masks first.

It's essentially a selection tool that creates highly targeted selection with seamless feathering transition. Besides, it makes your post-processing workflow more efficient and your life easier 🙂

 

Before The Course

I figured the best way to show you what you can do with the post-processing skills you will learn is to show you the results.

I will show you the before and the after so you can decide it for yourself.

Before this, I relied heavily on HDR software. I didn't have much knowledge on how to post-process images apart from tweaking the contrast and the colour.

As the result, my images were dull and did not reach their full potential.

before the art of digital blending course
Neist Point in the Isle of Skye, Scottish Highlands

 

before the art of digital blending course
Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow

 

before the art of digital blending course
A mountain refuge along the Tour du Mont Blanc circuit, Switzerland

 

I know there's nothing wrong with these images. The exposure and the composition are both ok.

But here's the issue:

It didn't stand out, it looks just like one of the many thousands you see everywhere on the internet.

 

After The Course

The course is both educational and inspiring at the same time.

It changed the way I interpret the scene and the way I photograph. I pay more attention to the light and composition now than before.

Being a post-processing tutorial, it made me realised there are more than just tonal and colour adjustments when it comes to image editing. I learned to use luminosity masks creatively to blend multiple exposures to create a balanced image.

Today, my images are better framed. I know how to accentuate light and shadow to highlight my subject. My images have improved dramatically, which also helped to boost my confidence.

result of the art of digital blending course
Marina Bay, Singapore

 

result of the art of digital blending course
Malham Lings, Yorkshire Dales, England

 

result of the art of digital blending course
Tuscany, Italy

 

You Don't Need To Have Any Prior Knowledge

You don't need to have any experience with exposure blending or luminosity masks to take this course.

I knew very little about it beforehand, but I was very intrigued with the technique.

But here's the deal:

You should already have a basic knowledge of layer masking in Adobe Photoshop. Luminosity masks are essentially layer masks, so you do need to know how layer masks work. If you don't, pick up a copy of Photoshop 101-301 and learn from the expert.

It would also make sense if you already have a copy of Adobe Photoshop installed on your computer. You can get a free trial before you get it.

Apart from these, all you need is a set of open mind and you're good to go!

 

How The Course Will Benefit You

Here are the features of the course that I really like.

1. Course Content

The title of the course is The Art of Digital Blending. What that doesn't tell you is that half of the course is about luminosity masks. So, in a way, you get 2 for the price of 1.

It delivers as it advertised. You will learn what you've paid for with high quality, genuine content that you'll not get else where. The course is well structured, each tutorial builds on what you've learned in the previous ones. I promise you won't get lost if you follow the sequence.

2. Short Video Format

The majority of the video tutorials are kept short and sweet. Each video is about 10 minutes on average. Some run a little longer due to the nature of the topic.

Although not in high definition, you can see everything in action clearly. You'll be able to follow Jimmy's step-by-step instruction without having to squint your eyes.

You can also hear what Jimmy says in his videos without any difficulty. It's not studio quality but it didn't feel like he was miles away from the microphone. There isn't any echo either and you won't need to crank up the volume at all.

3. Teaching Style

Unlike some of the video courses I've experienced before, the content of The Art of Digital Blending is delivered in a well-paced tone. Jimmy explains everything clearly and slowly that you'll be able to follow him step-by-step without getting lost in the ether.

Each video comes with exercise image files. You can practice the post-processing technique you learn during or after watching the videos.

4. Highly Actionable Material

You'll be able to execute everything you learn today without the need for additional software. Remember there are exercise files so can actually "do it now" to see the results for yourself.

As mentioned, the only 2 things you need are Photoshop Action for luminosity masks (included in the course) and Adobe Photoshop installed on your computer.

5. Photoshop Actions

There are 6 Photoshop Actions that are included in the course: add and remove luminosity masks, details enhancer, Orton effect, dodge and burn, and autumn colours.

These are meant to speed up your workflow by automating the process of creating these effect. If you like them to be all in one place, download Jimmy's Easy Panel for free which includes all the actions.

 

Case Study

To show you how you might benefit from the course material, I'll show you what I've learned from the course to transform this image below.

 

Instead of having you read another 1000 words, here are 2 videos that will show you the entire post-processing workflow of this image.

The first video is about exposure blending with luminosity masks to recover details in the highlights.

The second video involves more work in post-processing, so it might not suit everyone. It includes adding a reflection and altering the hue of the lights. You can skip this video if you don't like the sound of it 🙂 

 

 

 

What Will You Get?

the art of digital blending

2 hours and 18 minutes (and 33 seconds to be exact!) of high-quality MP4 video on image post-processing and exposure blending with luminosity masks in Adobe Photoshop.

Plus...

12 DNG and 17 JPEG files to practice as you go along.

57 pages of PDF of the entire course for your reference.

6 Photoshop Actions to speed up your digital workflow.

But that's not it.

There's also a bonus video (4:41) that explains how masking works in Photoshop.

All of these are available as digital download only.

 

Content of The Course

The main folder contains the bonus video, the PDF file, Photoshop Actions and 2 other folders labelled Part 1 and Part 2.

These are the main folders that contain all the video tutorials.

luminosity masks explanation and use
Screen shot from one of the videos in Part 1

Part 1 - Luminosity Masks Explanation and Use

These videos aim to introduce you to the concept of luminosity masks, its principle and the basic application.

At the end of the lessons, you should be able to generate the masks and use it to apply basic adjustments to your image.

You should watch these videos first before Part 2, which is all about exposure blending.

There are 4 videos tutorials in Part 1:

1. What Are Luminosity Masks

Learn the basic concept of luminosity masks and how to use it to make a selection.

This is followed by how to apply tonal adjustment to the selection using the curves adjustment tool.

2. How To Create Luminosity Masks

Learn how to create all 18 luminosity masks manually in Photoshop and the keyboard shortcuts to refine the masks.

You will be shown step-by-step to creating the masks yourself if you like, but the most efficient way of doing so is with a Photoshop Action.

Install the luminosity masks Photoshop Action that comes with the course and you're good to go!

3. Making Specific Adjustments

You will get a walkthrough of each group of luminosity masks (brights, darks and midtones). Jimmy explains clearly where and how each mask affects the image.

He will also show you how you can refine a mask using the keyboard shortcuts you have learned in the first video. Plus, a few other tips and tricks to further refine the mask.

Finally, you will learn how to enhance the mood of your image with tonal and colour adjustment.

4. Milky Way and Luminosity Masks

For all the astrophotography aficionados out there, you will love this!

It starts with how you can and should prepare your image in Adobe Camera Raw beforehand.

You will learn how to enhance the stars and the contrast with tonal adjustment, how to selectively remove image noise and enhance details.

At the end, you will learn how to boost the colour and the mood of your milky way image to make it pop.

milky way the art of digital blending
Before and after post-processing with luminosity masks

 

Part 2 - Exposure Blending

The second part is all about exposure blending with luminosity masks.

It starts off with the basics of blending, gradually moving on to advanced technique and challenging scenarios.

You should have a good understanding of luminosity masks before watching the videos in Part 2.

1. Introduction To Exposure Blending

In this video, Jimmy gives a detailed explanation of what exposure blending is all about - to create natural and clean high dynamic range image.

He uses 2 examples (one with 2 and another with 3 exposures) to elaborate his points. He goes through his thought process and his workflow when blending images.

This is mainly to give you a general idea of what you will learn in the next few videos.

2. Basic Exposure Blending

You will learn how to stack images in layers and blend 2 exposures in Photoshop with luminosity masks. Jimmy will walk you through the process of how to make a judgement and select a luminosity mask for blending.

The video comes with 2 exercise images so you can practice as you learn.

There are challenges when blending areas in shadows and you will be shown how to deal with these effectively.

By the end of the video, you will learn the entire workflow from start to finish, including how to enhance the mood of the image.

3. Seascape Exposure Blending

This video shows you the entire workflow of creating a seascape image.

Specific skills that you will learn:

How to align images manually, straightening the horizon, blend to brighten shadows while maintaining the contrast, manual white balance with the curves tool, how to enhance the colour of the sky, boost the white colour in the water, dodge and burn to enhance the shadows and highlights, fixing edging from blending and finally, applying a vignette to direct attention.

4. Long Exposure Cityscape

This workflow involves blending 3 exposures, so it's slightly more advance in a way. The explanations are very clear and well paced so you will have time to absorb what he says.

The example images were taken at sunset and twilight. The aim is to blend all the images together to create a sunset cityscape with the lights on in the buildings.

Apart from what is in the last video, you will learn more technique to refine luminosity masks and how to blend in building lights effortlessly.

5. Blending 3 Exposures - Mesa Arch

This workflow shows you how to blend in challenging situations, such as when the scene has extremly high contrast. This involves blending in 3 different exposures in Photoshop.

Specific skills you will learn are:

Straightening the horizon when the composition is tight, how to dodge and burn in selected area to match the brightness of the blend, fixing chromatic aberration, how to add energy to the light source and the surrounding area.

6. 32 Bit and Luminosity Masks

This shows you another way of merging multiple exposure to create an HDR image. This is achieved by using the merge into HDR tool in Photoshop to create a 32-bit HDR.

This is followed by further local tonal and colour adjustments with luminosity masks.

You would have learned most of the post-processing techniques here in the previous videos, and can use this as a reinforcement to help you recall or to remember.

7. Extra Luminosity Masks Information

In this last video, you will learn why in some situations, you may need to blend more than 3 exposures.

You will also learn further tips and tricks to further refine luminosity mask to target your selection.

 

Similar Courses

There aren't many courses out there specifically on exposure blending with luminosity masks.

Another video course that I would recommend is The Complete Guide To Luminosity Masks, 2nd Edition by Sean Bagshaw. Sean is an outdoor photographer and his video tutorials dive deep into the use of luminosity masks featuring Tony Kuyper's TKActions Panel.

If you prefer exposure blending, Sean has another video course on Developing for Extended Dynamic Range, 2nd Edition. This video course focuses on the advanced technique of extending the dynamic range with exposure blending using luminosity masks.

I'm not an affiliate to Sean's video courses, but I have watched and found it tremendously educational.

Unfortunately, there aren't any free video courses on luminosity masks or exposure blending, not even on Udemy. But you can go through Tony Kuper's written tutorials on his site to learn the exact same technique.

 

In Summary

The Art of Digital Blending is an excellent video course for beginners wanting to learn luminosity mask and exposure blending.

It covers all the basics and all-you-need-to-know on luminosity masks. It's also a bonus to have the luminosity masks Photoshop Actions and exercise image files with each video.

Besides the basics of exposure blending, Part 2 walks you through the entire workflow of several challenging scenarios.

The explanations were very clear and Jimmy delivers the entire course in a concise and structured manner. The length of each video is about 10 minutes, which to me, is the perfect length.

Overall, the value of the course exceeds its price. You can finish the course within a few days and be able to start blending multiple exposures with luminosity masks in your workflow.

 

The link below is an affiliate link, which means I do get a commission if you buy the video course via the link at no extra cost to you. If you do buy via the link, you'll get a FREE video tutorial on 11 Tips To Speed Up Your Exposure Blending Workflow as a thank you from me. Simply forward your email receipt to [email protected]

The Art of Digital Blending

$44.99
The Art of Digital Blending
8.1

Video quality

8/10

Audio quality

8/10

Content

9/10

Price

8/10

Value for money

9/10

Pros

  • Concise videos dive straight to the point
  • Crystal clear explanations
  • Exercise image files to practice as you learn
  • Demonstration of workflow in challenging scenarios

Cons

  • Limited content in refining luminosity masks
  • Covers the basics of luminosity masks