Just stack them and run "Auto-align". The canvas will expand as needed.
You can then blend manually, or run "Auto-blend". If the latter, don't resize until the layers are merged! If you do you'll get faint but visible mask edges. Merge/flatten first, then resize if required.
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That's difficult to answer that question, it depends on so many factors: on your original image sizes, the number of images you want to use, how much you are reducing the size (cropping) the size of the original images and the dimensions you want your finished composite to be, and is it for screen use or for printing?
By the way, when you've finished your composite image you may want to produce the final as (say) a JPG for printing at a bureau, uploading to a website or for passing on to friends, make sure you keep the original layered PSD file because in the future you may want to make further changes to it and and once you've flattened it you can't!
Ok, your 2nd paragraph summed it up best for me. That's a big help, thank you. I suppose I'll just have to figure out what I want to do with the final when it's done (print, website view, etc.). Great point on layered PSD files. I normally keep everything in layers as much as possible and keep backups prior to flattening, so making changes in the future shouldn't be a problem. I've been doing composites for about a year now but this is one that I really need to nail, so I figured I'd better get on this forum and ask some of the gurus to get me started on the right path. Thanks for saving my butt.