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How do I merge two photos to get the best qualities from each?

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Open a new canvas and place both images one above the other on new layers (with the 'black' one on the top layer).

Select that as you work layer and adjust the layer properties opacity so that you can see the bottom picture through the 'black' picture.

Adjust the position of the 'black' picture through 'Layer - rotate/zoom' by moving it around until it is lined up directly over the other picture.

Change the opacity of the Black layer back to where it was.

Open Grim Color Reaper, select primary color (black) and adjust the Color Tolerance until you have the desired result.

End result

The above is a 3 minute exercise - the more time you spend on it the better it will look!

Edited by ventor1

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If these are separate photos taken by hand, then they may need not just rotate/zoom, but rather perspective/distortion adjustment. In this case you could use panorama stitching software such as Hugin. It can analyze the images automatically or let you to manually place control points, and then adjust the images to fit perfectly. After that, it can combine the two images (or more) with optimal contrast and luminosity so that both dark and bright areas are visible.

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