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All right. I promised to show you a good use for Auto-Blend Layers, and one of the great uses for Auto-Blend Layers is Photomerge. It's very successful in that context, and I was telling you that Photomerge is really just a combination of Auto-Align Layers and Auto-Blend Layers working together. So we'll see, just how well the feature performs in that context later, but for now, I want to show you another trick that it has up its sleeve, by itself. You can actually blend images with different depths of field. So if you shoot a series of images, all of which have different levels of focus, then you can merge the focused versions of all of those images together fairly automatically.
You're going to have to follow up with a little manual layer masking, but most of the work will be done by the Auto-Blend Layers command by itself. So here I am in the Bridge, looking at the contents of this Video awards subfolder, and what we're seeing here is six images all shot by photographer Jacob Cunningham, who is one of the guys who does the live action segments here at lynda.com, and these photos rather selfishly feature awards that I've won here at lynda.com. And I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+A or Command+A on a Mac in order to select all of them, and let's just tour through them by pressing the Spacebar, so that we can see each one of them.
You'll notice that in this first image that we're seeing the forward award in focus, and then in the next image we see this award here in focus, then the third image features this award, and so on. So it just basically goes down the stack, that is from front to back. So there might be a context in which you want certain objects out of focus and others in focus; that's a fairly popular technique. Or you might want to flat depth of field, so that everybody is in focus, and that's where Auto-Blend Layers comes in. So I'm just going to escape out of here, so we go back to the Bridge.
I'm going to combine all of these images into a single, layered file by going up to the Tools menu, choosing Photoshop, and then choosing Load Files into Photoshop Layers. So it's an automated feature. It's a lot easier than assembling the images into layers all by yourself. You can do it with just a couple of images, if you want to, or you can do it with many images, as we're doing here. So notice it takes a few moments for Photoshop to do its thing. We are switched into Photoshop automatically by the way, but a few seconds later, we now have a six-layer composition, as you can see here.
The first task is to go ahead and align these layers with each other. Even though these were tripoded shots, so technically the camera did not move, the objects did not move, but there still might be some tiny degree of movement going on, and that's going to throw off Auto-Blend. So to avoid any problems whatsoever, go ahead and select all these layers, and the easiest way to do that is to go up to the Select menu and choose All Layers, or you can press Ctrl+Alt+A, Command+Option+A on the Mac. That goes ahead and selects all the layers, as you can see.
Then we go up to the Edit menu and choose the Auto-Align Layers command, and we don't need to select any special options this time around. Now, you may see this Progress bar, which is telling you that Photoshop is updating the Lens Profile information. Just go ahead and wait that one out, and then up comes the Auto-Align Layers dialog box. Now, what I'd like you to do is select Auto - we not need to worry about any of these Projection options - and make sure both of the check boxes are turned off. Technically, we do have some vignetting in the shot, out here around the edges.
I don't think it's worth automatically correcting that. We're going to crop that away anyway, and it's just going to eat up more time. Geometric Distortion, again, it's computationally intensive. We don't need it for this particular composition, so click OK in order to tell Photoshop to do its thing. Naturally, this is going to take a few moments as well. You're going to have to wait out the Progress bar, as it goes through and distorts every single one of these images, and notice that the aligned images do look a little different here inside the image window. All right! The next task is to go up to the Edit menu and choose Auto-Blend Layers and make sure that Stack Images is turned on.
We're not creating a panorama, obviously. Now, Seamless Tones and Colors needs to be turned off. First of all, there is no real shift between the exposure and color settings associated with this image. So they all have the same color balance, they all have the same Exposure settings, the aperture was locked down, that kind of thing. But also, if we tell Photoshop to match the tones and colors and go ahead and correct every single one of these images, remember that it only does so to the pixels that are contained inside of its automatically drawn mask, which means that you have no options, whatsoever, to adjust those masks.
If you want the option to do a little bit of manual adjustment yourself, as you will in this case, and other cases where you're trying to blend multiple images with different levels of focus, then you need to turn this check box off. Also, it makes the command work faster. So I'll go ahead and click OK. We see the Progress bar. It is blending these various images. But bear in mind, all it's doing this time is drawing layer masks; it's not doing anything to the pixels inside of the layers themselves. Now, it's probably going to take a little longer for you.
These are large images, by the way, but we're speeding up the process just a little bit. Now let's go ahead and check out what Photoshop has managed to do. You can see now that Hermes is in focus upfront here and so is this woman back here, this trophy, in the second layer down in Seven awards-2.jpg, and so is everybody else. Now that doesn't mean that they're exactly, precisely, correctly in focus. For example, if I zoom in on the lower right corner of the image, you can see that we have a terrific dropoff between some sharply focused details inside of the trophy stand, and then over here on the far right side of the image, we have some low focus going on with the tabletop.
That's an area that we're going to have to mask manually, and I'll show you how to do so in the next exercise.
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