When you look at the world, your eyes and brain work together to give you about 14-20 stops of dynamic range.
Post-processing has always existed as a means of replicating what the eye can see and the camera sometimes can't.
What this essentially means is that a camera’s dynamic range is no match for the human eye, so shots taken straight out of camera are rarely a good representation of what the photographer saw.
In addition to balancing the image with exposure, contrast, white balance & sharpening, the use of blending has been around for quite some time. What make these images stand out, is the creative use of light painting to enhance an image dramatically. The BEFORE image is what you might see just as the sun sets. The AFTER image creatively uses additional exposures with light painting, blending together the two images, to make one spectacular image.
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