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Another way to blend images together in a Composite is to use the Opacity and layer blending modes at the top of the Layers panel. To show you that I'm going to bring another photo into this one; as you've seen me do several times in this chapter I'll go up to the File menu. I'll choose the Place command. I'll navigate to the photo that I want, and then I'll click the Place button at the bottom right of this window, and finally I'll click the green checkbox at the bottom of the Document window. In the Layers panel you can see that I now have two layers, the top layer contains this photo of reflections that you see in the Document window, and under that is the photo of the sky.
I am going to use a layer blend mode to blend the photo on the top layer and with the photo on the bottom layer. The layer Blend modes are located in this menu which by default is set to Normal. I'll click there to open the menu of layer blend modes so you can see that there are lots of them. One way to use these is just to pick one and try it out, so I might pick the Overlay Blend mode and see how that does. Actually I like that result a lot, but it's really random to apply blend modes this way. Here's how I really approach blend modes.
I just try them all on for size quickly until I find one that I like. And to do that you need to select the Move tool or any of the tools in the first two sections of the toolbar, then click once on the image and then hold the Shift key down and use the plus keys on your keyboard to cycle through the layer blend modes applying them one at a time to the selected layer. Each of these blend modes changes the way that the colors in the selected layer interact with the colors on the layer below.
As I cycle through these you can see that layer blend mode menu changing at the top of the Layers panel, and I'll just stop cycling through those when I see a result that I like. If you really want to know what the blend modes do, rather than try to understand each one separately because each one has a slightly different look depending on your photos, I suggest you think of them in groups. So if I open up Blend mode menu again, there is the group that has Normal and then there is the second group that starts with the Darken Blend mode, all of these will give you a darker result.
The third group that starts the Lighten Blend mode will give you a lighter result. The group that starts with the Overlay Blend mode will give you a result that has different contrast. The group that starts with Difference gives you extreme color shifts, and the group that starts with Hue focuses on the individual properties of color. There is another useful slider here at the top of the Layers panel for blending images together and that's the Opacity slider varying the opacity of the selected layer makes that layer more or less translucent or see-through.
So when I move my mouse over the Opacity label at the top of the Layers panel and drag it to the left, the selected layer gets more and more translucent, or less and less opaque, so you can see more through it to the layer below. There is a useful shortcut for varying opacity rather than dragging that slider and that is to once again make sure you have the Move tool selected in the toolbar and then just type the first digit of a two-digit percentage. So if I wanted to see how this photo looks with the selected layer at 50% opacity I would press 5 on my keyboard, and you can see that took the opacity to 50% or 8 to take it to 80% or 9 for 90%.
And if I want to get a number in between, say 85%, I'll quickly press 8 and 5 in succession on my keyboard. So you can get some unusual looking artistic results in your composites by modifying the blend modes of layers and their opacity.
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