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Whenever you're shooting groups of people, even as few as two people together, it's a good idea to take multiple shots, because it's inevitable that just at the moment that the shutter opens one of your subjects will have his eyes closed or be doing something odd with his hands or have a funny expression on his face. If you do take more than one group shot, you can combine them to take the best of all the shots and put them into one composite using Photoshop's Auto-Align and Auto-Blend features. Here for example I have a couple of shots of two fellows having a lively discussion.
I'd like to compare them and see who looks good in which of the photos. I'm working in Bridge in the Chapter 13 Exercise Files folder and because I'm in Bridge, I can use Review Mode to compare the two images. I'm going to select the first of them, hold down the Shift key or the Command key on a Mac, that's Shift or Control on a PC, and click on the second one. And then I'll go up to this button at the top of the screen from which I can choose Review Mode. That gives me a good high-resolution view of both images right here in Bridge.
I really like the way that the guy in the red shirt looks here in the top photo, but I'm not thrilled with the way that the guy in the gray shirt is standing. In the bottom photo the opposite is true. I liked the gesture that the guy in the gray shirt is making in the bottom photo, but the guy in the red shirt is doing something funny with his hands here. So what I want to do is put together the red shirt guy from the top photo, the gray shirt guy from the bottom photo. I'll do that in Photoshop using Auto-Align and Auto-Blend. First, I'm going to click the X to go out of Review Mode in Bridge and with the two images still selected in Bridge, I'll go up to the Bridge Tools menu and choose Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers.
That opens Photoshop, tells it to make a new file, and to put my two images into separate layers in that file. So here from the top layer, the group1 layer, I want to keep the guy in red and here from the group2 layer, I want to keep the guy in gray. I'm going to turn both of these layers on again. I'm going to select them both by holding down the Command key on a Mac or the Control key on a PC. First, I have to get Photoshop to align the two images so that their content is in the same place.
I'll go to Edit menu at the top of the screen and I'll choose Auto-Align Layers. I'm going to accept the Auto Projection method here, which is the method that Photoshop's going to use to try to align the layers. If that doesn't work I can always come back and try one of these other choices. By the way as I mentioned in the movie on Photo Merge, there are a couple of new options here, the Spherical and the Collage methods. I'm going to check Vignette Removal to make sure that any dark areas on the edge of the photos don't interfere with the blending and then I'm going to click OK.
In just a moment the photos are aligned. I can see that the photos have been distorted a little by the Auto Alignment which left a few pixels at the side and some at the bottom and a little bit of distortion up here. But that's okay, because I can now use the two layers to take the best of each photo. I'm going to go to the group1 layer, select it and go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and add this layer mask. The mask is now white so it's showing me everything on the group1 layer. I'm going to select the Brush tool, make sure that I'm painting with black and I'll go up to the Options bar, make sure the Opacity of the Brush is set to 100%, and then I'm going to come in and start painting over the guy on the right to remove him from the top photo.
As I do you can see the picture of him that's on the bottom layer starting to show through. Because the images are aligned everything else in the photo lines up just right. That's it. I now have a composite of the two images. I'll crop away the edges where there are some distortion and some transparent pixels by getting my Crop tool and clicking-and-dragging to retain only the good part of the composite image. I can go all the way over here and still not run into any distortion and on this side I think you can get all the way over here. Good! I'll press the checkmark in the Options bar and I'm finished.
I've taken two photos, neither of which I thought was great and put them together into one where it looks like these guys are having a really lively conversation. So the next time that you're shooting multiple people in a formal group shot or just an informal shot like this one, take more than one image and if you don't like either one of them, put them together to get one composite that's just right.
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