Sam Kacey

Sam's expertise is in Landscape, Portrait, and Travel photography. He and his team also review the best Cameras and Lenses on the market in 2022 for B&H Photo.

In some circumstances, the best way to capture a great shot is to shoot more than just one.

Sure, it will sound counterintuitive right now, but working in chunks allows the photographer to focus on certain areas of the photograph in between exposures. Lucky for us, putting together many images is a lot easier than ever.

In this article, we’re going to discuss how to merge two photos in Photoshop.

If you choose to read this detailed guide, you will come across straightforward instructions to help you capture the perfect picture. You will also see some of these transformative results firsthand in no time. The process is pretty easy, and in the end, your satisfaction will speak for itself.

But first…

Why Should You Merge Two Photos?

Are you wondering why you should merge two photos together in the first place? Well, there are two main reasons you should like to learn this photography trick:

Focus/Exposure Bracketing

In some cases, it is just impossible to capture every detail you would like to see in just a single exposure. This is why it sometimes becomes necessary to learn how to merge two photos in Photoshop.

For instance, landscape photographers who don’t have access to external lighting will not have the right range to capture every single tone. Therefore, they might opt to make just one dedicated exposure specifically to get a vibrant and bright sky.

Afterward, they will make separate exposure for the darker details in the foreground. Likewise, photographers using lenses with limited capabilities will want to focus on one of the interesting details in the foreground before capturing a second shot that is, perhaps, focused on a distant object or point.

Double Exposure Photography

If you’re anything like us, you will like to focus on all the technical standpoints of practicing photography. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to merging two photographs based on focus bracketing and exposure. The results will also live up to your expectations (or beyond) to make your own double exposure photography.

Back in the day, when photo film was a standard, photographers used to make double exposures by first shooting two exposures from a single-frame camera. With the advantages of digital post-processing, today’s photographers have a lot more control over their work.

By using Photoshop, you will be able to combine any two photos into just one masterpiece. Double exposure photography will help you create dreamy effects in your images. Most of the time, the composites will defy and bend reality. This is why so many artists use different techniques to produce visual metaphors that will help set a particular mood.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Merge Two Photos in Photoshop

Open Your Images in the Photoshop App

Open up the base image you would like to edit in Photoshop. Generally speaking, you will be able to do so by right-clicking on your file in Lightroom, FInder, etc. Once you click on the ‘Photoshop’ button under the ‘Open With’ drop-down menu. Next, drag the image that you would like to overlay on another image in the Photoshop tab.

Optional: Align All Your Layers

If you are working on two nearly identical or bracketed images, get all the details in each image lined up as close to each other as possible. Firstly, you will have to select each layer that you would like to align. Next, you will have to click on the ‘Edit’ option in the application, then click on ‘Auto-Align Layers.’

As soon as you click on it, a dialog box will appear out of nowhere, from which you will have to click on the ‘Auto’ projection option. Once have crossed this off the list, click on ‘OK.’ Photoshop will then take you to the driving wheel.

Mask Out All the Unwanted Details From the Top Layer

You should now go ahead and add your layer mask on top of the composition. You can make use of Photoshop’s brush tool to get rid of any unwanted objects in the image. Alternatively, you will have the option to fill the layer mask before erasing the areas where you would want the detail to shine through.

We also recommend you use a soft brush around all the edges of the picture to add a more natural-looking transition between each separate layer.

Adjust Its Opacity

To add further details and tones into your composition, make sure to play around with the opacity in the top layer of the image. This will especially be crucial in making those artistic images with ‘double exposure.’

Double Check Your Results

Before exporting and saving, make sure that you are satisfied with the outlook of your composition. Add all your finishing touches to mask the opacity and edges. At this stage, you will want to make all global edits that will apply to both layers of the image.

Combine Both Layers

Select both of these layers (along with any other additional adjustments that you may have applied), and then right-click and click on ‘Merge Layers.’

There you go. Wasn’t that easy?

Results of Merge Two Photos in Photoshop

It doesn’t really matter how you slice it; learning how to merge two photos in Photoshop will have a huge impact on your photos. They also give you a chance to enhance your images which would have seemed unusable in standalone shots.

This process will be very useful to add subtle adjustments as well as for massive transformation. Surely this is one trick that we would recommend every photographer to learn in their own time and always have them ready for creative projects.

Whether you’re still new to Photoshop or have quite a lot of experience merging photos, we really hope that this guide has helped you with all the useful tips and tricks. Now, if you still have some questions or would like to make comments based on your own experiences, you can leave a comment below.

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