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In Photoshop CS5: Creative Compositing, Chris Orwig demonstrates how to take photographs to the next creative level by combining images in Photoshop. This course covers multiple compositing scenarios, including portraits and architecture photos, from selecting the images, to blending photos with layer masks and blend modes, and resizing and sharpening the results. Chris also covers tips and tricks design to inspire and increase the drama and interest of photographs. Exercise files are included with this course.
With this photograph, we are going to explore how we can combine multiple exposures together in order to increase visual interest and drama. Well, here you can see we have a number of different images. In our Layers panel, you can see we have one exposure for the overall ambient light. The light is pretty even, but it's also pretty uninteresting. Well underneath, we have another exposure where the lights are turned on. It's dark out. We have these nice yellows and blues. Next we also have another exposure, just before the lights came on.
We have some pretty beautiful clouds and also some great texture here in the lake. So what we want to do is explore how we can combine these different exposures together. All right, well, let's start off by working on the top layer. What I'm going to do here is use my Quick Select tool. I want to make a selection of the roof. So I'm going to zoom in a little bit. I'll go ahead and simply paint across the roof with this Selection tool. Once I get a decent selection here, I'll then go back and fix it up. In this case, I'm just painting along the edges, so I have those.
Next, I'll hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows and paint away these windows areas here. Bring back a little bit more of the roof there and also over here. Then next, we're going to create a mask and we're going to create a mask which is just this area of the roof. So let's make this selection as good as we can. Then click on the Add layer mask icon. Well, all of a sudden, once we do that, we can see that primarily we have this selected area which is the roof. We can light that roof up with this layer.
Now if our edge isn't perfect, we can always go back to the view where we can see everything and go to our Mask Edge. Here we can modify this. We can increase the contrast of that, smooth things out a little bit as needed or feather it. In this case, I think that roof selection's okay. Let's click OK. Well, now here of course this looks unnatural, surreal, not interesting, but if we lower our opacity, what we can do is just bring some light back into the roof. So here I want to bring some of that texture and detail back in there.
I'm just going to brighten that up a bit. Next, I'll grab the Brush tool. I'll paint with white with a pretty low opacity, 10% or 20%. I'm just going to paint in a few other areas, few areas where it might be nice to have detail that were trapped in the shadows over here, a little bit on this side over here and also over here along the edge of the lake and the path, just bringing in some subtlety and a little bit of light there. Again, just combining these exposures, make the brush bigger, take my opacity down and just start to brighten up the forest a little bit too.
Now we're able to do this because we have this nice exposure that we captured and we're then combining these exposures together. All right, well so far, so good, adding some nice light there. Take a look. Here is before and then after. So in this way, we're getting the best of both worlds. It would be impossible to capture this on camera, but here in Photoshop we can combine these two together in order to get a really nice and interesting looking photograph, before and then after. All right, let's click in the lights layer. Well, the lights layer is beautiful, right? I mean the bright yellows and all these tones are really interesting, but the sky and the water aren't the best.
So let's click on our Mask icon. Here we want to paint with black. I'll go ahead and crank up our opacity. What we're going to do is simply paint across these areas to bring in what's sitting underneath this layer. In other words, we are concealing this area of this layer. In this case, we can then bring in these interesting clouds and also I want to bring in the water. Yeah! I like that texture there. I like how that really comes together by having a bit more of the texture. So what we're able to do then is combine all of these together simply by using masking.
The great thing about this is we have so much flexibility. In other words, if we don't like this adjustment, if we've gone too far, we can modify the mask. We can lower the opacity there. We can continually work on our edges. We can change this however we want to. Also with this layer, again if we don't like the lights, we could change that. Dim this, modify it and then the same thing with this clouds layer where we're bringing in those clouds. We can continually work on these different masks and layers in order to combine them together to get the best results.
All right, well the last thing I want to do here is straighten out their horizon a bit. So I'm going to click on the Ruler tool. It's underneath the Eyedropper. Here we'll just click and drag across something that we think should be straight. Then we'll go ahead and choose Straighten. That will just rotate that a bit. There we have it, our overall before and then after, working with different layers to modify the image and to work on different areas in order to create an image that has more visual interest and a bit more drama.
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