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In Photoshop CS4 New Features, leading industry expert Deke McClelland covers the latest developments in Adobe's powerhouse image editor, Photoshop CS4. Deke explores the new tabbed window interface and the Adjustments and Masks palettes, the enhanced toning tools, content-aware scaling and the latest versions of Camera Raw and Bridge, which prove nearly indispensable to the digital photographer's workflow. From the interface to integration, Deke leaves no stone unturned.
Here is something else you can do with Auto-Align and Auto-Blend inside Photoshop CS4. You can take multiple images with deep focus, each of which have the focus points set at a different location, and you can blend them into a single uniformly focused composition. So you can expand the depth of field and I have got seven images here, all of which as I say, have different focus points. We will take a look at that in just a moment and these images come to us from Bryan O'Neil Hughes, one of the product managers of Photoshop. I am going to go ahead and select all of these images here in the Bridge, then I will go up to the Tools menu and I will choose Photoshop and then Load Files Into Photoshop Layers, which will combine all those photographs into a multi-layered composition. And we have a total of seven layers now, one for each of the images, here in the Layers panel. I am going to go ahead and Option-click or Alt-click here on the PC, so that only the active layer is visible and then I am going to zoom-in a little bit, so that we can see that this image has a focus point right about here, and the forward portions of the book of course or beyond the focus so they are blurred.
Now I am going to press Alt+Left bracket, that would be Option+Left bracket on the Mac, to activate and view the next layer down and you can see that the focus point is moving forward here and every time I press Alt+Left bracket or Option+Left bracket on the Mac, we are moving farther and farther forward with the focus and we even have some drifting colors because Bryan went ahead and allowed for auto exposure when he shot these images. So you can do that. You can either lock down your exposure or you can let it drift as he did here. And now that we have see every single one of these images. So you can see that the focus gets as far forward as about here inside of this image. I will go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click on the one remaining eyeball to view all the layers. And then I am going to select all the layers here inside the Layers panel by Shift-clicking on that top layer and I will go up to the Edit menu and I will choose Auto-Align Layers, because we need to make sure these layers are in alignment to start with. They are little bit out of alignment right now.
So I will go ahead and choose this command. I will select the Auto option so that Photoshop can do its thing. I'll leave these check boxes off and then I'll click OK. And after a moment or two, Photoshop goes ahead and aligns the layers by rotating and distorting them. The layers are all still selected so now let's go up to the Edit menu and choose Auto-Blend Layers. Now this time around Photoshop is smart enough to know that we are working with a stack of images; we are not trying to create a panoramic montage. We have just got a stack going. I want to make sure that Seamless Tones And Colors is turned on and then I will go ahead and click OK. Now this is going to take a little longer because Photoshop is trying to accomplish more. It's actually masking every single one of the layers as we will see and it's atering the colors of many of the portions of the layers that remain unmasked and you can see that it's just done a brilliant job of merging these varying levels of focus together. So the watch is in sharp focus, every one of these books binds is in sharp focus now.
If we were to look around carefully, we are going to find some problems every once in while. We are going to find some areas where things don't align super-duper well and probably the most egregious problem inside of this image is this weird blur right here. So we all the sudden lose our focus over here in the right side of the image, but overall it is amazing that's able to pull this up, especially that it's able to pull off this kind of imaging miracle automatically. So what I would finally do of course is I would grab my Crop tool. I will go ahead and crop the composition like so, in order to get rid of some of the stray edges and I might as well set the Cropped Area to Hide so that we were keeping the contents of our layers and then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and then you have it. The final more or less uniformly focused composition, thanks to the improved Auto-Align and Auto-Blend functions in Photoshop CS4.
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