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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?


EDIT

The reason why I wanted to use the brighter image is because this was shot on a drone. Take a look at the difference in noise levels:

enter image description here

As you can see, it's a big difference.

Therefore, I would ideally want to figure out how I can turn the brighter image into a darker version that would make the final blend look more natural.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is going to be completely opinion based. You might be able to change the approach of the question to something like "how does HDR software avoid this?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Sep 23, 2021 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Question was cross-posted to graphic design too, so I've now cross-posted my answer from there & the other one will get closed/deleted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 23, 2021 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Opinion based is fine, if its backed up with reference or examples. See, Good subjective, bad subjective \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Sep 24, 2021 at 13:51

2 Answers 2

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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

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the informative answer. I edited my original question to include why I wanted to use the brighter image. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tinker
    Sep 24, 2021 at 5:15
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For me looks like the colour temperature of two photos is different. So I will recommend first to correct this and then blend them. Will be good to use RAW images when merge to HDR to get better effect.

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