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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 great things about shooting with the Camera Raw file format is that you can capture ton of information and then you can use that to create multiple exposures to get the ultimate composition with all the detail that you want in the Shadows and the Highlights. So let's give an example of that, let's open up this Camera Raw file from Bridge. That opens up the Camera Raw plug-in here, opens dialog box. Now we're going to begin by doing just a base exposure for the portrait here, and you can see the background, the waterfall is really blown out and the plant here is really dark but we're going to deal with that separately.
So I'm just going to do a basic conversion, I'm going to go ahead and give my Eyedropper tool, press I, I'm going to click on something I know, I want neutral gray, so we gray this rock here. And pump up the Exposure just a little bit, maybe bring up some of the Brightness, do a little Clarity and a little Vibrance as well. So just make it look pretty nice for the three ladies here. Okay, now when I take this over to Photoshop, I have a couple of different options here. I can just click Open Image and that just processes it as a normal Photoshop document. I wanted to come in as a Smart Object because a Smart Object can be edited again and I can come back to Camera Raw to do further adjustments. So I'm going to hold down the Shift key for that, you can see when I hold down Shift, the Open Image button becomes the Open Object button. So I'm going to go ahead and hold down Shift and click Open Object, and there it brings in it into Photoshop as a Smart Object.
Now if I were to double-click on this thumbnail, that will re-open this image in Camera Raw and give me the previous settings used for it. That's not what I want. I want to be able to do a different exposure to bring out the waterfall detail let's say. So to do that I need to create a copy of this Smart Object layer so I can act on it independently. I'm going to right- click or Ctrl-click on the name of the layer and say New Smart Object via Copy. Now I have a completely independent version, and just to keep things straight, I'm going to go ahead and rename. So I'm going to rename the bottom layer. I'll call that the Base layer, and we're going to rename this one to be Waterfall. Great! So we're going to go ahead and double- click on the thumbnail of the Waterfall layer that will re-open Camera Raw. And now I can do a process to just bring out the Waterfall details. I'm taking the Exposure really far down, and yes, that is darkening up everything else in the image, but that's okay because it's making the waterfall look great.
I'm going to go ahead and click OK and that's going to update that version of the document. Now what I want to do is blend this back into the bottom layer. So I want this to darken the waterfall underneath, so I'm going to set it to the Multiply blend mode, and that waterfall now looks a lot better higher contrast, more detail and of course, it's made everything else darker, so we need to throw a layer mask on that. I'm going to hold down the Option key or the Alt key when I click on the Add Layer Mask button because that will create a layer mask filled with black and hides everything on this layer. Then I'm going to get my Brush tool. Press B for Brush. And I'm going to start painting in the Waterfall detail. Let's go ahead and start with 100% Opacity, just type-in 0 and I'm going to white my foreground color because I'm painting against a black mask. And we're just going to paint back in the Waterfall detail exactly where I want it.
That's looking pretty good there. Now I don't want to go too far in a certain area. That's okay because I can just press X to exchange my foreground and background colors. I'm going to lower the size of my brush by using my Left Bracket key. And I can just come in and make these leaves behave. I want to type 5 for 50%, make my brush slightly bigger Right Bracket, I'm going to paint back over the dark shadow area of the waterfall. I don't want that to be so dark. Okay, so there I have it. There is before, there is after. By doing a different Camera Raw adjustment for just the Waterfall detail and then masking that off at the blend mode to Multiply. So let's repeat that technique for the plant over here on the left. That's a little bit too dark. I want to lighten that up.
So I'm going to go back to the Base layer. I'm going to right-click and Ctrl-click on the word Base and choose New Smart Object via Copy. I want to create another version of this and call it Plant by double-clicking on the name. And now when I double- click on this thumbnail it's going to reopen Camera Raw again, and this time I can do an Exposure setting to make the plant look really good. So I'm really going to crank up the Exposure here and maybe bring out the Clarity just a bit more and open up the Fill Light to open up the shadows there of the plant. Again it's blowing everything else out. That's okay.
I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Looking good, I want to blend that back down to the base. So I'm going to change the blend mode from Normal to Screen, and that's going to make these plants look even better. If I want to lower the Opacity, just a touch I can go ahead and do that I'm going to press the V key on my keyboard to switch to the Move tool and I'm going to type 8 for 80%, just to bring down the brightness of that Screen, Plant layer. Again we want to add a layer mask and paint back in the Leaf detail. So I'm going to hold down the Option key again and click on the Add Layer Mask button. That hides everything on that layer by filling it with black. I'm going to get my Brush tool again. Nice big brush, using my Right Bracket key, starting out with say 100% by pressing 0.
And then I'm just going to paint with white, X to bring white to my foreground color. And I'm just going to paint in the plant detail, where I want it. Brighten that portion in the image up. It's looking really nice. There you have it, when we're all done, I'm going to lower the brush size just a little bit, Left Bracket. We'll paint inside here and then we'll just stop right about there. That's looking good. So using the power of Camera Raw and the ability to create Multiple Smart Object versions of a single Camera Raw file, you can create Multiple Exposures and bring them in, duplicate them as Smart Objects, change their blend mode to Multiply and Screen and mask out the result to get a nice composite. So here's where we started and here's where we ended up by taking advantage of these great features.
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