164 Digital Darkroom
Multi-RAW processing means combining multiple ver-
sions with differing exposures and color values from
a single RAW original. Typically, these versions aren’t
“straight,” meaning they are applied using a blending
mode (see sidebar), and at some reduced percentage
If you’ve processed two exposures from the same origi-
al (let’s say one is much brighter than the other), you
can drag one of the images onto the other image in
Photoshop to create a single, two-layer image. If both
images are the same size, its easy to align the two layers
precisely. (The trick for precise alignment is to hold
down the Shift key when you drag one image on top
of the other.)
The requirement that the images be the same size for
precise alignment is a good reason to wait until you
are entirely through with combining RAW conversions
before you do any cropping of your photo.
Quite often, I’ll add a layer mask (see sidebar, page 163)
to one of these multi-RAW layers and plan to either
“paint in” specific areas, or to apply an overall gradient
to let the layer blend in smoothly.
With all of the layers converted from RAW in place,
my next step will be to proceed to enhancements in
Blending modes are used to describe how a layer mixes with the
layers beneath it (layers are described in the sidebar on page 162).
Besides the default blending mode (called normal blending mode),
I often use specialized blending modes when I multi-RAW process. I
also use these blending modes at later steps in Photoshop.
Here are some of the blending modes (besides normal) that I
Color: Color blending mode applies the color from the top layer,
using the luminosity (black and white values) from the layer
underneath. Color blending mode can often be used to selectively
Luminosity: Luminosity blending mode uses the luminosity
information from the top layer and the color information from the
Multiply: Multiply blending mode darkens the image overall, or
“burns” specific areas if applied selectively. In small doses, multiply
blend can be used to enhance colors.
Screen: Screen blending mode lightens the image overall, or
“dodges” specific areas if applied selectively.
Soft light: Soft light blending mode superimposes the pixels in
the top layer over those in the bottom layer, with a bias towards
lowering the effective contrast in the result.