Long exposures are a great way to capture the movement of roiling ocean waves, but you can take that effect to the next level by combining multiple exposures, as shown in this 15-minute tutorial from photographer Greg Benz.
As Benz demonstrates at the 3:40 mark, the most difficult part of this process is aligning your images.
When you’re shooting on sand, and especially with the tripod legs in the water, you may not have the stability to guarantee that your images will be perfectly aligned. So Benz spends some time showing you how to align your images precisely using the move tool and the Difference blend mode.
Then, at 5:46, he moves on and shows you how masks and the brush tool can be used to paint in sections of water from the different exposures. The result is a dramatic scene, combining splashes and flowing water in a way that would be impossible to capture in a single photograph.
Check out the video at the top to see the whole process for yourself. Blending exposures in landscape photography can be controversial, but Benz suggests that the technique can bring the viewer closer to the moment as he experienced it in person. Whichever side of the fence you stand on, this tutorial is a great primer on layer masking, and well-worth a watch.
And if you like what he has to say, check out some Benz previous features on PetaPixel, and subscribe to his YouTube channel where you’ll find plenty of tips like this one. You can also find more of him on his website and Instagram.