Try THIS Instead of Exposure Stacking Raw Files in Lightroom (VIDEO)

We’ve posted numerous tutorials in the past explaining why so many accomplished photographers prefer to shoot in Raw, or set their cameras to capture both a Raw file and a JPEG every time they press the shutter button.

Today’s episode from German landscape pro Christian Mohrle provides a unique twist on this topic that illustrates the freedom of editing in Raw. It will save you a lot of time by using just one file—instead of multiple images and merging them for a perfect exposure.

Mohrle’s original intent was to take the focus-staking approach, so he captured three shots of his scene; one underexposed, another with the exposure recommended by the camera, and a third that's too bright But as he began working on his first shot, which was really dark, he realized he could achieve a well-balanced image with that one photo.

There’s a link to download Mohrle’s image in the description beneath the video, so you can follow along as he demonstrates the rehabilitation process. His goal is to turn the underexposed photo into a dramatic and vibrant sunrise shot, and you may be amazed at what he accomplishes by viewing the before/after photos.

Mohrle begins by making a few global adjustments in Lightroom’s basic panel to the overall shot, to make it as good as possible for what follows. He starts by changing the profile to Adobe Standard, which slightly opens the shadows. He then cranks up exposure in a way that doesn’t add objectionable noise. There are few other quick enhancements to create the moody look Mohrle desires.

Next Mohrle turns to Lightroom’s masking panel for selective enhancements to different portions of the scene.  His first step involves a small radial gradient for further exposure adjustment to the sky, and an eye-catching glow just above the horizon.

Now the image is looking pretty good, and you’ll see how Mohrle makes it really pop with some simple color grading and sharpening. All that’s left to complete the spectacular transformation is a bit of cleanup in Photoshop.

There are more great editing tips and tricks like this on Mohrle’s popular YouTube channel, so be sure to pay a visit.

And for those who insist on shooting JPEG photos, take a look at the recent tutorial we posted explaining how to edit them like a pro.