Light Painting: Layer Masks
Alright, now the beauty of doing this in separate layers, is that we can control the luminance of each layer. So when I go to this red layer, 'cause I know this is the one that's out of focus, and I take it off, I think hm, how bad is the image suffering? And in this case, I would've really liked to have used that brightness, but I'm not going to, or, I'm gonna downplay it, by lowering the opacity, so if I click on this layer and activate it, the area up here, it works directly with this layer, so if I go to my Opacity, and click and drag back, it completely removes that, if I click and drag up, it all comes back again. So I could maybe use that as just a little bit of fill, something like that and maybe it won't appear too terribly unsharp, alright. The other thing I could do, is I'll Alt+Click on this layer to only show us this layer, pull my Opacity all the way up to 100. And I'm gonna zoom into 100, I could also try sharpening this a little bit, I don't think it's gonna sharpen so ...
well, no it's really bad right in here and in here, so what I'll do is only use one little tiny bit of that area, of that particular layer. I'll pull that Opacity back to like 60% and I'm gonna mask this layer, which it already is masked actually, so wherever I painted with black, that wouldn't come through, so I grab my black paintbrush by tapping B, flipping this to black and notice if I paint in here that area goes away, alright. And I think that probably got rid of most of that terribly unsharp, and I think that's good enough for the example, of course in a perfect world, I would've re-shot that without the wind blowing, or have gone out on another night, but just for this example I think it works okay. Alright, the next layer up is this back layer, and I kinda like what's happening in most of that area but not all of it, you can see how as I tap on and off the eyeball, the stairs are lightening up, I don't want that back wall to be the same illumination as say, this other wall, over here because I always wanna create different levels of illumination throughout the image, so, this is already masked, so I'm gonna click on the mask and this is a great idea, you guys, to always think, I'm going to work on the mask, so I'm going to click on the mask, or I'm going to work on the layer, so I'm going to click on the layer, if you get in that habit, you're gonna save yourself a lotta trouble down the line. So I'm gonna click on that mask, just ensure that's the area I want, yep. And I'm gonna grab my paintbrush, and paint with some black in here, but I'm only gonna paint it 50% and I'm gonna do that by tapping my 5 key, and that changes that to 50% up there, and that is going to downplay the light on that bridge, I'm sorry, on that wall, it's still illuminated, but it's not as bright as this other wall. And I'm gonna tap my 0 key to get me 100% and I think we had some light spill on here, so I just wanna get rid of that as well. Alright, so now we're starting to build a little bit of a difference in the areas that have been illuminated. Okay, let's go up and see what's on this layer, 'kay, that's that illumination in the fence line, I think that looks pretty good, alright, next layer up, is that back wall, I think that looks alright, I'm not gonna make too much of a change to that. And then the next layer up, is that white area. Okay, so now, what's happening is, that's not quite as bright as I want it to be. So here what I'll do is I'll click on that layer, and I'm gonna create an adjustment layer, to brighten it, but I'm gonna do it just above, and create what's called, and clip it to the layer below, so I'm gonna go to my curve and I'm sorry, gonna go to my adjustment layer here and go choose Curves, and of course it pops up right above that layer that I wanna work on, and here I'm gonna choose this little box which clips it directly to that layer below, meaning this adjustment now is only, and lemme just pull this out for a second, this adjustment is only gonna happen to this layer, so as I brighten this, you can see it's really brightening up this area here, and it's also brightening up this area here, where that kinda makes me sad, I don't want that to happen, but that's not a problem because that's on this mask, so if I grab my paintbrush again, make it big and paint with black, I can get rid of those other areas that it's also brightening up, and it was adjusting some areas in here and I don't want that, so I paint that all out and you can see now in my adjustment layer has been masked and we'll put our properties back in there. And once again, now it's only illuminating that area there, I want that light to be a little bit brighter as a nice highlight and I'm also seeing this is getting brighter and I'm gonna get rid of it as well. So clicking back on that mask, black as my paintbrush, and I could paint that out. So in this way folks, you are really able to go through and individually work on each area that you've painted and brighten or darken, and really craft the image. One of the reasons that I like light painting so much, is because you can craft your image, you are actually creating the light. That's very different than a lotta times where we're just sort of, you know, capturing an outdoor photography scene, it's like it's there, okay click, we've got it. But here you're really creating your own light, now the last thing I'm gonna do here is, I'm gonna go up to this layer, and I can see that this is my layer coming across here, the light across the ground and I'm gonna click on that mask and subtly darken down the one side where the light comes from, it's really typical for us to when we paint from this angle all the way over to here, it's typical for it to be brighter in this area, and I don't want it to look that way, so what I'm gonna do, is make my brush really big and I'm going to make it really soft which it is, and I'm gonna lower my Opacity to about, let's say, 30% and again I can just tap my 3 key and get to that 30%. And now as I slowly paint in here, I am gently darkening down that one area, so lemme hit command Z and you can see it darkening down, alright. Now what I could also do, is if I want the ground to be a little bit more illuminated, I'm gonna create another adjustment layer, so let's just make sure that this is the proper, yep, that's the layer, so I'm gonna click on that layer, go to Curves and I'm going to increase the brightness a little bit, and increase the shadows, just a touch, 'cause I want that raking light to be a little bit more prominent, alright, great. Now as always I'm gonna take my eyeball on and off to see what else got adjusted and to my eye, by adjusting that, this other area's getting to bright and that's because I forgot to clip it, so click on this layer, and clip it, now it's only going to this adjustment, it's clipping to this bottom layer, so let's see before and after. Okay, that made this a little too bright, over here, so what I'm gonna do is click on the mask of that adjustment layer, use my brush, paint with black at 0%, there and now we've brought that down, so my eye is not drawn into the corner, and outta the frame. Alright so, you can see we've brightened up this central portion of the screen a little bit, which is what I want, now I think overall I'm kind of liking the light painting, but my sky feels a touch bright here, so the nice thing is I already have a mask of the sky, we've got tons of masks from the sky, all of these are masks from the sky. So, what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna click on this mask here, that seems to be the cleanest one without any other painting and I'm going to hold down my command key on a Mac, or a Control key on a PC, and click on that mask, and what that does, is it reloads the selection so I don't have to go back and make another selection, I spent a fair amount of time actually making this selection, I don't wanna have to go through that again. So command, or Control clicking on a mask reloads that selection, now what I've just loaded is a selection of the foreground though because this is the white area of the mask, that's the selected area in your selection, that's not what I want, I want the sky, 'cause I said I wanted to darken down the sky a little bit, so I can't hit command+I, like I did before to invert this because that command+I, was inverting a mask, here what I need to do, is go up to Select and go to Inverse, and that will invert the mask. Alright, now I can see that my sky is selected, so I go all the way to the top and I'll create a Curves adjustment layer, and I'll drag my shadow point down a little bit, and maybe my midtone, upper midtones up just a touch, maybe my brightest white point, add some contrast in there, there we go, alright, and you could go on with this as much as you wanted, I could take that same mask and hit command, or Control, on that mask to reload that selection, and I could create a Hue/Saturation layer, maybe I wanna add some more saturation to that blue, alright, maybe I wanna darken the sky down to keep our eyes in, which I think I'll do. So, once again, I'm gonna command and click on that mask to reload the selection and create another Curve on top of that, but this time, I'm gonna drag down and darken, okay. Now at this point, I only want this adjustment coming through just on the upper edge here, just to subtly darken down that sky, so I click on the mask, grab my paintbrush by tapping B, and this time I'm going to choose black again, once again a nice super soft brush and what I'm doing is I'm holding down my Shift key, and doing left bracket and tapping that to make sure it's soft, if I tapped right bracket, that would make it harder, left bracket while I'm holding my Shift key makes it soft, and then just a bracket key to make it harder, and as I paint I'm gonna be removing that area from in there and you can see that that sky is just a little bit darkened down at the top now, but it's a little bit too heavy handed, so I want my brush to be even bigger, I want that change to be nice and soft. Something more along those lines, I'll give it one more shot here, there we go, that's the look I'm wanting, and now, when we go in and make these adjustments, you can see it's really only happening in that top and it's just super subtle, and that's what we want.