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How to Layer Photos in Lightroom

In: 
Published: 23/04/2021

Lightroom users often question whether layering images is possible in the software, especially when they don’t have Photoshop. Understanding how to layer photos in Lightroom will help you bring out a virtual story and spark the viewers’ interest. 

Note: You don’t need Photoshop for the method described below.

How to Layer Photos in Lightroom Using Print Module

Adding layers is an effective element in photography that helps add new dynamics to the images. Especially in real estate photography, you are often required to layer photos to convey a composite picture to the clients. It is a great way to increase their interest in a particular property. 

Lightroom Classic doesn’t allow layering photos in the typical way other image editors do. However, there is a set of features in the software that can be used to layer photos. We admit that it is not the commonplace way to do layering, but it fulfills the purpose of adding depth to photos to improve them.

You can use the Print module in Lightroom to lay an image on top of another image. Suppose you need to blend two images of the exterior and interior of a real estate property. You can show the interior as the main image, and layer the exterior over it in the form of an inset.

Let us walk through the process of photo layering.

Step 1: Selecting Photos for Layering

Firstly, we need to select images that will be layered. You can pick an image of any interior space (preferably the central area like a living room). The other image has to be an exterior view of the property to give the viewers a sneak peek about what it looks like from the outside. 

You can also use more than two photos depending upon the compositional style you wish to create. For instance, you can use two more images of separate areas of the interior to layer on the main one. Here are the two images we have taken as an example to demonstrate the layering process. 

Selecting photos for layering with Lightroom

Step 2: Cropping Photos

After carefully selecting the images, start the editing process by cropping them according to the layout you want in the final image. 

  1. Go to the Develop Module of Lightroom Classic CC. 
  2. Open the image that you intend to use as an inset first. In our case, it is the exterior view of the house.
  3. From the Right panel, look for the Crop Overlay tool. It is present beside the Spot Removal tool under Histogram.
Cropping photos for layering in Lightroom
  1. Make sure that the padlock is unlocked. 
  2. Pull in the sides to crop the image as required. 

Step 3: Editing for Blending Purposes 

Process the images as you normally do in the Develop module. Make changes according to feel you want to achieve. We are looking for a mingled effect of both images; hence we will add some vignette and feathering to our foreground image. 

  1. Under the Basic panel, take up the Exposure slider a bit to make the image brighter. Don’t go overboard with the Exposure.
  2. Bring down the Clarity slider.
  3. Go to the Effects panel.
  4. Add some Vignette to produce a dreamy effect on the edges.
  5. Bring up the Feather effect. 
Editing in Lightroom for blending purposes

You can go on to process the image as per your preferences. Now let’s move on to the background image. 

We want a clean and crisp image to serve the purpose of sparking interest in the property. We want some vibrance and the perfect balance of exposure and colors to bring out the lively feel of the interior. 

  1. Increase the Exposure and Shadows slightly.
  2. Take up the Vibrance, Saturation, and Dehaze sliders until you achieve a bright, appealing look of a contemporary style interior.
Adjusting exposure and shadows before layering image in Lightroom
Editing preferences in Lightroom

Step 4: Print Module Page Setup

Once done with the editing, it is now time to go to the Print module to carry out the layering process. This module has a lot of features, adding to the functionality of Lightroom Classic. We don’t intend to print our layered image but want to save it as a JPEG afterward. 

  1. Go to the Print Module.
  2. On the Right-hand side, look for the Layout Style panel. 
  3. Select Custom Package from the panel.
Selecting Custom Package from the panel
  1. Go to the Page Setup option on the bottom left. 
  2. Select the Landscape option from the page setup dialog box. This will create your workspace. 
  3. Click on Ok.
Selecting the Landscape option from the page setup dialog box for layering

Step 5: Manage Sizes

  1. Now drag both images from the filmstrip onto the workspace. 
  2. Select the background photo. Go to the Cells panel on the right-hand side, and increase the Height and Width to the maximum. 
Managing image sizes in Lightroom
  1. Now select the top layer image and resize it according to your preference. 

You can see that we were able to achieve the final outcome just the way we planned. The interior looks clear and inviting, plus an ethereal sneak peek of the exterior is there in the corner. Layering these photos allows the viewers to see the complete picture of the house in one image. 

Layered images in Lightroom

Step 6: Adding Identity Plates

You can also add some text to the layered photos in the Print module. 

  1. Go to the Page panel on the Right.
  2. Click on the Identity Plate check box. 
  3. Click on the small arrow below the text section and choose Edit.
  4. Type in the text you want to add. You can choose the font and size of the text from the edit pop-up.
  5. Set the identity plate text wherever you want on the layered images. 

Lastly, you can click on Print to File and save your image as a JPEG file on the chosen destination on your hard drive. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Layering Bring More Interesting Results in Real Estate Photography?

Layering helps bring more interesting results that give a deeper insight to the viewers about a property. Rather than showing them only one image, you can show them multiple viewpoints via layering images on top of each other. 

Having more than one focus helps them create a better story in their mind for the future, which is what real estate photography is all about. Hence, photo editing software providing the layering feature can be a great technological assistance for real estate agents.

Conclusion

The brief summary of the process we have used to layer photos in Lightroom is as follows.

  • Using the editing options to crop and soften the edges of two images.
  • Bringing them together via the page setup on the Print module.
  • Managing sizes to give precise touches to the final outcome.

Using this technique, you will be able to tell a comprehensive story using the background and foreground images.

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