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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.
If you've ever needed to take a photograph of a group of people, you know what a challenge that can be at some times, to get everyone looking at the camera with their eyes open and smiling all at the same time. Don't worry if that doesn't happen. As long as you have a digital camera, just keep pressing that button down and get a bunch of shots, because you might actually be able to just composite the best of each frame into the final image. So, here we have two images. Let's go ahead and hit the Spacebar in Bridge to get the full-screen preview. And you can see, in this particular image, she's smiling here, the third from the left there, but the hair is kind of blowing of the woman in yellow.
If I hit my arrow key to go on the next frame, you can see these two look better on the left, but then she's got her eyes almost closed. So, what I want is to combine these two shots and just use the best of each. Let's hit the Escape key to go back to the Bridge view, and we'll go ahead and select these two group shots. And there is no limit to how many frames you can use here. You can use two or more. We'll go to Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop layers. This will combine these into a new single file. Each image has its own layer. We'll go ahead and select these two layers in the Layers panel by holding down the Shift key and clicking on them.
Then under the Edit menu, we'll choose Auto-Align layers. This is going to make sure that from frame to frame, all the common pixels are in perfect registration. And it may have to rotate or distort each layer to make that happen, so you might see some shifting there, and that's okay. We'll crop it at the end. We'll go and deselect these layers, and then we can turn them on and off to kind of see the shifting here. So, what we want to do is hide everything on this layer, but her, where she's smiling. To do that, we'll add a layer mask. We'll go down at the bottom of the Layers panel.
We'll select that layer first. Add a layer mask. By default, the layer mask is filled with white, meaning reveal everything in this layer. I can invert that by doing Command+I or Ctrl+I. That hides everything on that particular layer. Now I can just press the letter B on my keyboard, switch to the Brush tool, and I'm going to paint with white on this layer here to bring in that other version of her. We can just actually go and just do right round the face, because everything else is in perfect registration there. There you have it.
You've got the best way to combine multiple frames of a group shot and just make sure you get that final looking-good group photo that you're looking for. All right. Let's go ahead and close this. We won't save changes, and we'll switch back over to Bridge here. You can do this for pretty extreme things. We've got these two images as well. Let's do the same thing. We'll go to Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop layers. It's going to do the exact same thing we just saw with the other set of photos. Here, it's not really a group shot per se. It's just a couple.
I kind of like how this image of him, the boy on the left, he's not cropped and clipped like in the other frame, but the image of her, she looks little bit better with her face looking this way and see more of her smile. So, I want to combine these two and get the best looking composite. All right. So I'm going to select those two layers again by holding down the Shift key, select them together, go to the Edit menu and choose Auto-Align layers. Again, if I just go ahead and choose Auto, Vignette Removal, click OK, Photoshop is going to do its magic and register all the common things in these particular two layers.
I can turn the top layer on and off to kind of see the difference. You can see everything else is pretty much good registration. Now it's just a matter of masking out this version of the boy on the top layer. So, let's go ahead and select just the one layer at the top, add a layer mask, press B on the keyboard for the Brush tool. We're going to make the brush quite a bit larger on this particular version. You use the Right Bracket key to make that brush pretty big. Let's just start painting with black. Since I have a white layer mask right now and white is my foreground color over here in the bottom left, I'm going to press X to exchange my colors, so that black is now my foreground color.
And I'm just going to paint out that version of the dude on the left. Looking good! Awesome! I'm just painting big strokes with my Brush tool here, making sure I get all that. Might make the brush a little bit smaller, left bracket, and to get into the finer details of the hand here, making sure I don't go anywhere into the lemonade jar there. Okay, it's looking pretty good! Finish up that hand, and we're pretty much done.
Now we might see a seam here, so let's get rid of that. I'll use the Left Bracket key to make the brush a little bit smaller. We'll paint out that corner of that seam there, no. If I go too far, you just press X and paint that back out with the opposite color white. Then let's turn the layers on and off to see the before and after. So, here's before. There is after. We can kind of see these two images compositing. What I might want to do here is get rid of this little person that was walking by. You guys can see the difference there. So, let's just paint that out with black. Press X to exchange our foreground and background colors again, and we'll just paint out that person walking through.
Press C for the Crop tool. We'll go ahead and drag out a new crop boundary for the composite. This time I'll hit the Delete option instead of the Hide Option. We'll press Return, and there is your final-looking composite. So, very handy technique to combine multiple photos of a group shot, whether it be two people or four people or twenty people, to get the best of each frame, so you end up with the perfect group photo.
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