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The blend modes in Photoshop offer incredible creative options for designers and photographers wanting to enhance images. In Photoshop Blend Mode Magic, Michael Ninness shows Photoshop users how to access and apply blend modes efficiently to achieve an aesthetic vision. He explains the building blocks of layer blending and demonstrates how blend modes can be used for color correction, sharpening, blending images together, adding dramatic glow, applying custom edge treatments, and many other creative effects. Michael also introduces advanced blending options for more experienced Photoshop users. Most of all, he demystifies this essential feature in plain, easy-to-understand terms and inspires photographers to use blend modes in ways they may have never considered before. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the nice things about shooting with a camera that can shoot Camera Raw files is that you have access to a lot more information in the file, of course. You can create multiple exposures from the same raw file, doing one exposure for shadow detail, doing another exposure for highlight detail. And then you can combine them. But what if you are shooting with a point-and-shoot camera or a camera that can't shoot raw? Well, you can still get the benefit of capturing additional information by combining that information to a single composite file. That's what we have got going on here. There are two JPEGs just shot with a point-and-shoot camera. It doesn't shoot raw. And we didn't even use a tripod here.
Just hand-held, no big deal, make it really quick and easy, just taking two different exposures, one for shadow detail and one for highlight detail. We are going to select these two files and from the Bridge menu, we are in Bridge right now, not Photoshop just yet, we are going to go to the Tools menu and choose Photoshop and one of that nice conveniences here is Load Files into Photoshop, each file as a separate layer. So we are just going to go ahead and automate that. Photoshop makes quick work of it and brings our two files into one document, each as their own layer.
We might want to rename these because it's actually using the file name as the layer name, so we are going to go ahead and just double click on the file name and delete the .JPG from that and the numbering as well. I'll double click in this layer, change those names, good. All right, now if we turned the top layer off, you will see there is a slight shift because we weren't very accurate when we did the hand-held shoot. That's okay. Photoshop can fix that problem for us as well. We are going to Shift-click on these two layers to select both of them and from the Edit menu.
I want you to choose Auto-Align Layers. And Photoshop is actually going to look at the content. We are just going to go with Auto, turn-off the Lens Correction options. Go ahead and click OK. Photoshop's actually going to look at the layer content and find areas that are the same and make them match, align them, distorting them if possible or if necessary, to make sure that we turn the top layer on and off, you don't see any weird shifting happening. How cool is that? So you have got them lined up now. Now it's just the matter of cropping them to just include the overlap between the two. So I'm going to type C for the Crop tool, go ahead and drag out a crop boundary and just kind of eyeball where these meet up, and that's good enough for now I think. Good, and I'm just going to press the Enter key to apply that.
And we have got our composite now with everything lined up. Now it's just a matter of hiding this blown out sky to show the good sky behind, right. So here is the shadow exposure where we see all the nice detail in the shadows. If we turn that top layer off, I want to get the nice sky and the highlight detail in the sand. So what we are going to do for that? We are going to get our Tragic Wand tool, press the W key and start Shift-clicking in all these spots. Now that's too much work plus you will accidentally click somewhere and you are like, ah, I have no idea what's selected. Or we are going to put a layer mask on the Shadows layer and actually start painting out every single pole and piece of wood. No, it's too much work.
Remember Photoshop has a built-in layer mask on every single layer, just waiting for you to tap into it. It's the Advanced Blending sliders again. To get to the Advanced Blending sliders, you simply double click on the image thumbnail. That brings up the Layer Style dialog. And then once again we get the Blend if sliders. On this particular top layer, we want to get rid of the bright sky and reveal the darker sky underneath, so we are going to use the white slider for This Layer. I'm going to drag it to the left and I'm going to start punching a hole through the bright pixels in that layer. Right now, it's a pretty harsh edge. We are going to split the slider here to create a transition zone.
I am going to Option-click or Alt- click, and drag the slider away so I can create a nice soft transition. And pay attention to the bottom of this pylon here, and this is where you can see where the highlight detail is being clipped or kept, just need to decide where you want to put the slider. There is no right or wrong here, it's completely up to you, just kind of eyeball it and figure out where you want the split to be and where the slider should go. We'll go ahead and click OK. Let's turn-off the bottom layer to again illustrate that look of that. You literally punched a hole through those bright pixels so that you can see the dark pixels underneath. And you get a nice composite from using multiple exposures using your friend the Auto- Align first to align the content of each layer up. That's the important first step there. And then using the Advanced Blend sliders to actually decide where you want the blend to occur.
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