I took this shot a while ago.

enter image description here

When this was taken, it was still too dark so you can see high noise towards the bottom half of the picture.

I took a very similar shot about 5 minutes later enter image description here

As you can see, the noise level is dramatically lower. I tried blending in the sky from the first shot with the bottom from the second shot:

enter image description here

Something feels off about this combination. I know that the lightning levels between the two images are too different. I can't help it since my drone's imaging capturing capability is rather limited.

Setting that aside, what would you do in this blend to make it look more natural?

  • This might be better suited for Photography stack exchange to be honest. It's not really a graphic design question. Maybe try other techniques, such as exposure bracketing (3 or more exposures) and HDR?
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 23, 2021 at 9:17
  • 1
    …and I've just discovered this has been cross-posted to both - so I'm going to cross-post my answer & this one can be closed. ;|
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 23, 2021 at 21:25
  • Please don't cross-post the same question at multiple stacks.
    – scottbb
    Sep 24, 2021 at 13:42
  • I can't delete this anymore
    – Tinker
    Sep 24, 2021 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't even attempt to overlay two images with such disparate perspectives. I'd take the frame I liked the best [the top one obviously in this case for the sky] & just HDR it.

This is Aurora HDR just at default settings. There are a million tweaks you could make to this, from hardly noticeable to "it hurts my eyes" - but we only have a tiny jpg to work on here; you'll do a lot better from the original image.

enter image description here

Evan Photoshop's Camera RAW can have a good go at pulling detail out of the darker areas - this, 2 minutes work pushing shadows, pulling highlights, then adding a bit of dehaze, sharpening & noise reduction - again, you need to do this on the original.
Photoshop doesn't have the micro-tonality contrast detailing of a dedicated HDR app, though, so it would be hard to get it as crisp whilst also lifting shadows.

enter image description here

There's nothing you can do for the sun itself - that's blown out. There is no detail to recover.
Oddly, the image shows fairly flat 205's right through, so something has already pulled those highlights back; there's still nothing there to recover from the posted image. This makes me think that, compared to your blended image, which does have detail there, something was used to 'fix' it at an earlier stage… which in fact 'broke' it.

Thinking about the blend - I decided what it perhaps needed was some more detail in the mids… so this was a quick go - basically contrast/clarity/haze changes, then lifting the overall lightness a little to compensate.

enter image description here

  • I read that "from hardly" part as "Tom Hardy". Had to read that line like 3 times before I got what it was.
    – Joonas
    Sep 24, 2021 at 6:36

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