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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
I'd like to teach you about the Screen blend mode, specifically, and what it's kind of good for. So, in this particular image, I'd like to add kind of a fake little sunrise peeking over the tip of this mountain top here. I'm going to use the Lens Flare Filter to actually achieve that. So, let's go to the Filter menu, and we'll pull down to Render, over to Lens Flare. This gives you a little tiny preview where you can position the Lens Flare exactly where you want it. So, I'm going to kind of position it right there in position, peeking over that little mountaintop there. You can, of course, change the Brightness value, and how hot and bright you want that Lens Flare to be.
I'll just leave it at the default, 100%. You've got a couple of different types of Lens flares available to you. I'm going to ahead and just choose the default again, the 50-300mm Zoom. Okay. I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Great! There is the cheesy effect, not exactly what we wanted though, because we've burned that Lens Flare on the original Background layer, which means I've damaged those pixels. If I change from mind and want to reposition that Lens Flare, I can't do it because I've burned that into the original layer. So, let's undo that. Edit > Undo or Command+Z, Ctrl+Z, and instead, let's create a new layer and fill it with black.
Now, when I click the New button, I get a new layer. That's transparent. It's filled with nothing. It's got just transparent areas, and it's called layer 1. I'm going to undo that, Command+Z. Rather than just clicking on the New layer icon, I'm going to hold down that make better key. In Photoshop, it's the Option or Alt key. I'm going to Option or Alt+Click on the New icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. This gives me a chance to name the layer. So, I'm going to call it Lens Flare. It also gives me the opportunity to choose a Blend mode for that particular layer. For now, I'm going to keep it at Normal.
Okay, go ahead and click OK. I want to fill this with black. So, I'm going to use my Edit > Fill command. Edit > Fill, and we'll choose Black as our Contents. Go ahead and click OK, and the layer is filled with black. So, it's covering up that Background layer. Let's go to the Filter menu, and you'll notice that the last filter you ran is always listed at the very top of that menu. If you just want to run it again, you can just choose that from the top of the menu list there. So, we'll just go ahead and choose Lens Flare from the top of list. You'll see I get the exact same Lens Flare I had the first time I chose the filter, but now I've applied this to a black background on a separate layer.
It sure would be nice if there was a way to make all those black pixels disappear on this particular layer, leaving only the effect of the Lens Flare. Well, I know. We'll get our Magic Wand tool, right? We'll click on the Magic Wand tool, and we'll click in the black areas, and then hit Delete, right? No, not so much. We'll go ahead and undo that. Instead of making a selection and actually deleting those pixels, we want Photoshop just to imagine that those black pixels didn't exist. To do that, that's why we're learning about blend modes. Which Blend mode ignores black? Well, that would be one of the Screen blend modes, one of the lightened blend modes.
We'll choose Screen. As soon as we do that, those black pixels act as if they're not even there. So, I get the same visual result as applying the Lens Flare to the Background layer directly. But if I get my Move tool, I now have the flexibility of having that Lens Flare on a separate layer, which means I can reposition it. I can lower its opacity. I can transform its scale. I can do whatever I want to it, hide it, change its visibility, and so forth. So, you have the flexibility of layers, taking advantage of a particular Blend mode that ignores a specific color, in this case Black, giving you a lot more flexibility.
Now, whether or not you're going to ever add a Lens Flare to your particular image is kind of irrelevant. I wanted to give you a visual example of why the Screen blend mode is very helpful at times. It ignores dark stuff.
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