Soft Light Blend Mode
Soft light is unique also. In that it applies itself to areas. The way it applies itself to the areas in your image is anything that's dark will get darker. Anything that's white will get lighter and 50% gray completely goes away. So looking at this example, we have that same image that we have there. If I were to change this to the soft light blend mode, pay attention what happens. The darks are getting darker. The black is applying itself to make the underlying image appear darker and appear lighter. But it's never getting to pure black. Notice how that is a pure black color that we put across the top there. But it's not allowing it to get to pure black. It's just giving it a boost in the lightness or darkness of it. Now its second cousin, I guess, would be overlay. Change it to overlay, look at the difference. It's much harder, it's more harsh. Lot more contrasty. A lot of times I tend to stay away from overlay because it's a little too much for me. So I'll do something like soft li...
ght. Because notice what soft light is also doing. It's allowing, it's preserving a lot of the tones underneath while it does it to be more of a soft protection, I guess, over your image. So if I press command or control I on that, notice how we've just flipped this. We've just flipped this so that if we change this back to normal, our black's on the bottom, our white's on the top. We flip it. We do the soft light. It gives me that second option for this one as well. But notice that strip in the middle. The strip in the middle is 50% gray. Nothing is changing there. And this is a really powerful tool and a powerful blend mode to use in conjunction with a 50% gray layer while dodging and burning. So if I were to delete this layer here, and I were to make a new layer by clicking on this little icon right here, make a new layer. We're gonna go to edit and go to fill and the fill dialogue is gonna pop up. It's gonna ask me, "What do I wanna fill this with?" Do I want to fill it with my foreground color, which would be black? My background color which would be white? Or any color that I choose? Or do I wanna fill it with straight black, straight white, or 50% gray. So for this, we're gonna fill it to 50% gray. We're gonna change the blend mode right here to soft light. And then press okay. And it didn't actually change it to soft light. Imagine that. So what we're gonna do here is go to this blend mode and change this to soft light. Okay. So when I do that, if I turn this on and off, nothing's changing, right? Nothing is changing. It's staying 50% gray. So this is where the dodge and the burn tools become really helpful for pushing and pulling the depth in the image. I like to look at dodging and burning as me being the creator of light where light was not. Any image that I produce, it's gonna be printed. Especially for a client that wants some of my landscape images. Always goes to dodging and burning. Because it's me as the artist that gets to select what happens with the lights and the darks. If you're in portrait photography, portraits can really be pushed and pulled with the depth and the shadows and the highlights in people's face and also smoothing things out and making that face look a lot more attractive for a photograph. Take any photograph for face value. It's not gonna look quite as good as it would as if it's run through that artistic process and those artistic pieces. And that's where you're gonna see dodging and burning, and I highly encourage you to do that. So with this set to 50% gray, let me go ahead and get you introduced to some good habits here. We're just gonna double click this and call this dodge. And burn. 50% gray, full filled layer. Notice that this is not, this is not an adjustment layer. This is a pixel based layer that's been filled with gray. So it's not gonna exist outside of the bounds, okay? That we talked about with adjustment layers. So if I go over here to the dodge tool, and set to dodge with a soft edge brush, it's attacking my mid-tones with the exposure of 50. I would highly encourage you to bring this down to something like 20 or 15. Just something low. And now if I start painting on my image with this brush, it's gonna start brightening things up. So I get to decide what gets brighter. I'm gonna make this door brighter. I get to decide what gets brighter. And if I press alt or option, it's automatically going to switch me over to the burn tool. So alt or option. I'm now set to burn. If I start painting in and holding alt and option, notice I see that little alt symbol there. That's telling you while you're watching me, that I'm burning that area. I'm making that area darker. Might make my brush a little bit bigger to speed this along. Just brush here to darken this and what I'm gonna do here, specifically with this area, is I'm darkening down areas. Almost kind of making a vignette. You see that? I'm just vignetting the street a little bit and then if I unclick alt or option, I'm now dodging. So I'll start dodging some of the foreground area. What happens when I do that is I'm starting to make that area a little bit more inviting for the viewer. It allows their feet a place to step, and it also, if you look at this, it's taking a, what looked like a very two-dimensional, three-dimensional area, but two-dimensional base on the way it was edited, look almost three-dimensional. Almost like that floor is now raising up a little bit, not flattened out quite as much as it was. So I press alt or option. Just burn a little bit more around here. I like the way these lights looked when they were darker, so I'll burn those down. Burn this. Really brighten up this door, brighten up the pathway here. And then maybe brighten up some of these areas, and then maybe alt or option up here. So, you know, vignettes, a traditional vignette will apply itself globally if you have something like Adobe Camera or a light room. Global, meaning it's going to attack the whole image. But with this type of vignette, if you wanna call it that, we get to decide where it affects our photograph. So you watched me do this. So while you watched me do it, it probably doesn't seem like it would be that big of a difference, but look at the difference. There's the before, there's the after. There's the before, there's the after. It's a soft light layer at 100%. Look at what's going on there. We're making dark areas darker by using a burn tool, which is essentially kind of like a black paintbrush, and we're making bright areas, areas I want to be brighter using dodge that when we look at this, that's the paint of what's going on in the background. If we turn this, our soft light, our image that we're working on here on, then turn our soft light layer off, that's without those affects. We're making things brighter, we're making things darker with dodging and burning on a soft light layer set to 50% gray. There are many different ways that you can dodge and burn out there. As a matter of fact, if I wanted to and do something destructive, which I don't recommend you do, I could start dodging and burning right now on this layer. It's going to make things brighter and darker. But what it's not doing is it's not allowing me to do that in a not destructive way. And we don't wanna work destructively. That is the last thing we wanna do. What we wanna do is we wanna make sure that when we're working on our images, that we're preserving all of the data that's happening underneath, especially that background layer. Because that's the source of everything that's happening above. 'Cause as we talk about the layer stack, the layer stack, everything that's happening on the top, what happens on the bottom does transition into the top. Especially when you get into things like blend if, even with these blend modes.