New Software Could Make Light Stacking Much Simpler

Rather than spending hours in Photoshop tweaking dozens of layers, this software would make combining multiple light sources into one image easy

light stacking

light stacking

If you've ever tried to light a complicated, interior architectural photoshoot, you know how difficult it can be. You can either spend hours setting up a complex lighting array to highlight the best part of each frame, but making sure to keep all the lights tucked out of sight. Or, you can focus on one area at a time, take dozens of photos, and then spend hours in Photoshop stacking them together for the best possible lighting. But a newly developed piece of software from Cornell could make that latter process easy enough for an amateur to do.

Dubbed "User-assisted Image Compositing for Photographic Lighting", the technology was shown off at this year's SIGGRAPH. Much like doing it by hand, you still need to take the dozens of photos with all manner of lighting arrangement. But the software takes those photo, and generates a set of three composite "basis lights":

Edge Lighting, which emphasizes the shapes of objects and their shadows; Fill Lighting, which illuminates everything uniformly; and Diffuse Color Light, which brings out the color and texture of every object.

Once those are generated, the user can then alter the intensity of each to generate the best lighting for the scene overall, and then specify certain objects or areas to tweak even further. So you can bring up the lights just in the back corner, or emphasize the edge of a table in a room.

Unfortunately, the software isn't available to download right now — but the researchers are hoping that it'll be put out as a prototype, and maybe be folded into existing Adobe products.

[via Reddit]