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Auto-blending focus

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: Auto-blending focus

The Auto-Blend and Auto-Align features in Photoshop CS4 are better than ever. Those features are the underlying technology behind some really amazing techniques. One of those techniques is the new ability to take photos, like these three, each of which has a separate point of focus, and put them together into a single blended image in which the focus is relatively equal throughout the photo. To do that I am starting here in Adobe Bridge, inside the Chapter 13 Exercise Files folder, and I am going to select these three images by clicking on the first, holding the Shift key, and clicking on the last.

Auto-blending focus

The Auto-Blend and Auto-Align features in Photoshop CS4 are better than ever. Those features are the underlying technology behind some really amazing techniques. One of those techniques is the new ability to take photos, like these three, each of which has a separate point of focus, and put them together into a single blended image in which the focus is relatively equal throughout the photo. To do that I am starting here in Adobe Bridge, inside the Chapter 13 Exercise Files folder, and I am going to select these three images by clicking on the first, holding the Shift key, and clicking on the last.

I am going to take these three images into Photoshop and have Photoshop automatically stack them together as layers in a single file. I will do that using a script in Photoshop. To access the script from Bridge, I can go to the Tools menu, down to Photoshop, and then go over to Load Files into Photoshop Layers. That launches Photoshop, takes those three shots of coffee, and puts them into one new Photoshop file, each as a separate layer, which you can see over here in the Layers panel. Let's go through those three layers looking at where the point of focus is in each and where the blurry area is in each.

In this first layer, coffee1, the point of focus is towards the back and the front part of the glass is blurred. This is the shallow depth of field effect which is accomplished in a camera by setting the apparatus very wide to a small number so that only part of the field is in focus. Now I will show you the second layer here by during the eye icon on the top layer off, and we can see what's on the coffee2 layer. There is still a shallow depth of field. Only part of the coffee cup is in focus, but it's a different part than in the top layer. Now the front is in focus and the back is blurry.

And on the third layer, coffee3.psd, most of the coffee is in focus and there is just a slight blur in the front mostly on the front left. So each one is different in its point of focus but none of them have uniform focus throughout. The goal is going to be to take these three and have Photoshop blend them together, so that there is one composite image in which the entire top of this coffee glass is in focus or at least most of it is. So I am going to turn all three layers on again by clicking their eye icons and with the first layer selected, I am going to hold down the Shift key and click on the third layer to select them all.

Then I will go to the Edit menu and I will choose Auto-Align Layers. I have to have Photoshop align the layers for me because I took them by hand without a tripod. In the Auto-Align Layers dialog box, I am going to leave Auto selected. Leaving it to Photoshop to figure out the best method for aligning the images. And I will make sure everything else is unchecked and click OK. Photoshop has turned the three images this way and that with the goal of aligning their content, and so you see a few transparent pixels around the edges, which I will take care later after the composite image is made.

Now I am going to go back to the Edit menu and down to Auto-Blend Layers to ask Photoshop to blend these three images together and try to eliminate the blurry parts from the final. In the Auto-Blend Layers dialog box, I will leave Stack Images selected rather than Panorama. Panorama comes into play when you are stitching together a long succession of images. Instead we are blending together a stack of images. I am also going to leave Seamless Tones and Color selected to get a better blend, and I will click OK. The progress bar tells me what Photoshop is doing.

First it blends the selected layers based on their content. In other words, looking at the coffee cup in each layer. This may take a while, especially if you have large images or if you have a large number of images. Next, Photoshop creates layer masks, one on each layer. It's those layer masks that it uses for blending, and finally it creates a seamless composition, which you see here. If you look closely at this photo, you will notice that it no longer has a very blurry area as each of the individual photos did. Instead in the composite, almost the entire glass is in focus with the exception of just this area right here.

There are a couple of other imperfections that you will notice. There are some white lines here and here and here, which I will try to clean up later with one of the healing tools. But for now, all I will do to the photo is take the Crop tool and click-and-drag to eliminate those transparent pixels at the edges and then I will click the checkmark in the Options bar to complete the composite photo. If you take a look over in the Layers panel, you can see that the way that Photoshop did this is by creating a separate layer mask on each one of the layers and doing some intricate masking on each mask. I am going to Option+Click one of those masks, that's Alt+Click on a PC, to show you the masking on that layer mask.

I will Option or Alt+Click again to go back to the photo and that's just one of the remarkable things that you can do with the improved Auto-Blending and Auto-Aligning features in Photoshop CS4. Give it a try in your own photos the next time you have a series of images each with a different focus point, and you want to have one image that's focused throughout.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67327 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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