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Light Painting

Lesson 14 of 19

Photoshop: Lighten Blending Mode

Tim Cooper

Light Painting

Tim Cooper

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Lesson Info

14. Photoshop: Lighten Blending Mode

Lesson Info

Photoshop: Lighten Blending Mode

Now after that big long detour, let's get back to what we were doing in the first place to open up these images and blend them together. Alright so what we could is go to photo, edit in, edit in Photoshop. What the would do, is open up both of these photographs provided that I was in the library module. It would open up both of those photographs and they would be separate photos. So let's just do that so you get, so you can see what happens. They are two separate photographs, so ultimately, they will end up as two separate photographs in Photoshop but really I want them in the same document. Where'd that other one go? Hmm, did I not have it selected? Oh I thought I opened them both. Now its calling me a liar. Now let's try that again. Or maybe it was just taking its time. With both images selected, when I go photo, edit in Photoshop, they both should open up. Not quite sure what happened on that last go. Okay there we go. So here we have two separate files. Now this is great. I could c...

ombine them manually at this point by clicking on this one and dragging and dropping on that one and aligning it and I could do all of that, but that's manual labor. And Photoshop's come a long way. So let's just get out of these for a second and return and show you the proper way to do this. If you want all of the images to be or several images to be in one file, you select the two or the three or in the case of these star trails, we're gonna select 10 or 15 of them and we're gonna go photo, edit in, Open as Layers in Photoshop. Now what this is going to do is its gonna take both of those photographs and put them inside of one file and that's precisely what we want. So now what we're thinking about when we come back to the idea of our print laying on the table and an acetate on top, what we've actually got is print laying on our table and then another print laying on top. Well, at this point, if we look down, we'd only be seeing the upper print but we can do things to this. I could cut some of this out, I can change the opacity, I could change the way this blends with this. And that's where we're gonna do here with lighten blending mode. So now, what you can see is if we look to our layers palette you can see that the brighter one is on top and the darker one is underneath. And when I see brighter and dark, I mean this has more light painting, this one had less light painting. Alright now, just to keep going down this idea of layers, this is a print laying on top of another print. If I want to remove this print, temporarily I could just take the eyeball off and we would be seeing to the print below. If I put the eyeball back on, now we're seeing the top layer and only the top layer. So, at this point what we have is a photograph with two pixel bearing layers in it. But we can't see them both yet. The beautiful thing about layers and this is something Photoshop or Lightroom cannot at all accomplish is the different ways to blend one layer with another. And that we can do with something called the blending modes which is right up here. And if I wanted a perfect blend of those two images together, I could choose something called lighten blending mode. And what lighten blending mode is gonna do, is its going to allow the brightest pixel from either one of these layers to show through. So in that way, I'm going to get all of the light painting that I did from the left hand side and all of the light painting I did from the right hand side as if I did it all in one shot. So we'll go and hit lighten and you can see that brighten right up again. So now let's just zoom in and see what we've done. I'm gonna take this bottom layer off which is the painting from the left and you can see my shadows get darker when its off, and my shadows brighten up when I put it on. So again, that lighten blending mode, what it has done is taken both layers and said whichever pixels are brighter, allow them to show through. So this is a really really important blending mode that I use in Lightroom all the time. Simply because I often do not have enough time to get around and paint everything in one single exposure. So, I can in one exposure, paint this area and the next exposure paint this area and the next exposure paint this area then bring each of this images together in, hit lighten blending mode and its if I did it all in one go. So this is a powerful blending mode, something I use all the time. Now, the other cool thing about layers, is you have the ability to change the opacity on the layer. So imagine this now, if I'm just gonna flip flop these. And this won't make a difference at all to us. Alright, so if I'm on this upper layer and I lower the opacity, you can see if I lower it all the way to zero, it's as if this layer does not exist, I may as well just turned it off. But, with the opacity, I can drag it up a little bit or a little bit more, and as I do this, what I want you all to do is look into the shadows here. Alright, just check out that shadow area as I move it up a little bit, a little bit more, a little bit more and you can completely control the amount of fill light in your photograph by doing this. So again, going back to the idea of the key light and the fill light, when I painted from this hand from the right hand side, camera right here, I painted full. When I walked over here and painted I painted a lot less, just a little bit I threw some light in there. This is my fill. And now, I could control that fill by saying, a lot of fill, little fill, less fill, no fill. That's the beauty of opacity on and at dawn on a regular layer. So, once again recap, all I did was take these two photographs in Lightroom, and choose photo edit in, Photoshop as layers. That launched them both into one file which I have here. Then all I'm gonna do is select both layers and choose lighten blending mode to get this effect. Now, if I feel like I wanna lower the opacity, click on the layer and change it at your will. Alright super easy technique, you guys but very very very powerful especially for light painters.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Shooting at night can create dynamic landscapes or portraits through long exposures. By using a wide range of tools, you can add light to your night photographs to create dynamic highlights or unique shapes. Painting with light opens a door into night photography that will keep you out until the wee hours of the morning. Tim Cooper is the author of The Magic of Painting with Light and in this course, you’ll learn:

  • The basics of light painting from accessories to camera considerations 
  • How to use test shots to capture your focus and exposure in the dark 
  • How to post-process your night images in Lightroom 
  • How to use layer stacking in Photoshop to build up light in your photographs  

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tim's Lightroom Presets

Tim's Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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DiDi Hendley

The BEST class ever! Learned so much--Tim is a great instructor. I highly recommend to the creative photog looking to expand his/her arsenal of tools, talents and products. Appreciated the patience and thoroughness that Tim offered students. Great pacing and information. I can see how I can very easily take his instruction out at night and produce something. I also appreciate that this session demonstrated images that weren't created in total darkness.

Gene Chamberlin

Tim is an outstanding teacher - I love his style, thorough and basic without being too elementary or condescending. I will be looking for other classes by Tim in the future. I'm am excited to apply the things I have learned from Tim and create my own style from the tools he has given. I never would have give much thought to light painting in the past. I have already notice a change in the way I scout my shots, now that I have added light painting into my tool box. Thanks for sharing your experience with the world Tim. Gene

Andrew Gow

Really enjoyable course. Clear instruction and surprisingly easy to put what I learnt into practice, which I did for the first time last night. This is also my first exposure to Photoshop, which initially put me off buying the course. However, Tim is a great instructor and explains his approach very clearly, so as well as an introduction to light painting it's a great introduction to what Photoshop can do.