Blend If Basics
So the first thing we have to do before we jump into the things with noise reduction and sharpening and all the crazy cool things, is we have to talk about Blend If, the principles of it and what happens with Blend If, and how this Blend If things work. So I made a little diagram here that makes it a little bit easier for you to follow along. I chose the color magenta for a couple reasons, and this is a really good knowledge for you when you're working with masks, or anything that you need to visually see something. Magenta is a great color to use for that because magenta doesn't typically show up in our images. You know when you take a picture with the camera, you typically don't see a whole lot of magenta colors in there unless you add those magenta colors. So by default, masks might show up in Photoshop somewhere as a red color or a white color. Well there's red and white in our images. So if we try to look at that mask, it's going to be very difficult to see it. So you're going to ...
see how I add cover overlays for the color magenta. So, I apologize for your eyes, because it can be a very bah, like at you color. None of us are actually wearing magenta in here. See, it doesn't show up that often in our lives either. But when we're doing diagram based stuff, it really helps to see how these things work. Okay? So the way Blend If works is it's inside every single layer. So it's not necessarily a tool like curves or hue saturation adjustment layer. Blend If is in the curve of hue saturation. It's in anything that's considered a layer. So anything that you see in this layers pallette right now could actually have Blend If incorporated with it in some way, shape or form. So, the way we get to it is I like to just double-click somewhere next to the text or the font in the layer, and that will automatically open up the layer styles. I believe you can also right click and say layer styles but then I don't know where it is, so I usually just so okay, let me just double-click this because it's a lot easier. So here is where everyone starts freaking out, because they're like oh, I double-clicked this, I'm in unknown territory. It's like the first time you reach into that magic bag of fairy dust and you're not sure what to do with it. Okay, right here is actually where you're going to find Blend If and I want you to kind of take that work Blend If specifically with what's happening right down here under underlying layer. Cross that out in your mind. Just if I could take a sharpie and just write all over this monitor that would be awesome, and just write protect here. Protect, okay? So when we think about that word as being protect instead of underlying layer, it makes things a lot more easier to think about, because what this is actually telling you is it's saying okay, this layer, what are we going to do with its highlights or shadows? Or underlying layer, what do you want to do with its highlights or shadows. So I predominantly will be working with this thing down here called underlying layer, because I think that's where it has a lot of power and potential. So, what we do with that is we have to think in terms of pixel values. So every pixel actually has a value from 0 to 255. Specifically if it's tone it's easy. Black is 0, 255 is white. When you start getting into color, things are a little bit different because then they have an RGB value of 0 to and things are just a little bit crazy. So what I like to think here is I have Blend If set to gray because that's going to be working with the luminosity of that layer. Here from 0 to 255, this is black and this is white. So if you look at our diagram, if I were to turn this little eyeball off, you see that we actually have a pixel value chart here from 0 to 255, 128 is your gray values. What you see here is 87 and 200, those aren't magic numbers, they're just arbitrary for the sake of this tutorial, okay? So, your big heavy hitters are going to be zero for black, 128 for gray, or middle gray, and 255 for white. So if I turn this layer back on and I double-click inside here, and I think of protect, what do I want to do? Well this magenta layer, let's say I got this magenta layer on here and I want to see all of the shadows that are underneath this layer. When we think protect, I can start pulling the slider across and protect those underlying layers from being hit by this magenta color. So when I move this over you can see the numbers moving down there really rapidly fast, and boom, once I get to 87, everything with a pixel value of 87 and below is not being affected by magenta. However, the caveat here is that there is no mask involved, there is no luminosity mask involved, there's no opacity involved. This is basically saying, this magenta, if anything underneath this is that dark from 0 to 87, do not affect it at all, okay? So if you look right here, I got this really like chiseled, hard edge. The cool thing about this is if you press alt or option, there's always hidden things in Photoshop, right? My suggestion to you is if you're ever working in Photoshop and you want to know if it does something else, press control and do it, press shift and do it, press alt and do it, press control and shift and do it, press alt and shift and do it, press control alt and shift and do it, and you'll find something hidden, okay? So if we press alt or option and we click on this slider, there's a little halfsies mark right there, right? If we press alt or option and click on that, watch this, we can feather it. So now what we do is we say okay, magenta, you can affect anything from 0 to 87, but if it's got a pixel value of 2 to 87, I want you to feather it in and make it a nice smooth transition. Likewise, on the other side of this, I'm going to move this over here, if we take out highlights adjustment slider and we move this over to the left, boom. We're at 200, right? Again, it's got that hard edge on it. So we're saying magenta, you can't affect anything that's from the 200 pixel value to 255. And this is not just with tones, this is also with colors. So anything that has a 200 to 255 range in that color, it will not affect that as well. So it's really easier to think about things in terms of tone than it is in terms of color because when we bring color involved we have millions of different things instead of 255. I'd rather work with 255 things than a million. Now if we press alt or option, we can maybe say let's feather this over to into the mid tones. So now if we look at that, this magenta will not affect any of the highlights, it won't affect most of the shadows. It'll be basically shadow dependent into the mid tones. And you're like Blake, that's cool, but what purpose does this serve? Thank you for asking. (laughter) Think about things like noise reduction, because we're going to get into noise reduction. When you reduce the noise on something, do you want to reduce the noise globally? I don't. I want to reduce the noise locally, because where does the noise typically exist? It's going to exist in our shadows. So if we do a heavy hand, and I mean I'm talking you can obliterate with pixels with noise reduction in the shadowy areas, and then incorporate Blend If into that layer, it will protect all of the mid tone to the highlight areas, and only allow those shadow areas to get that smooth noise reduction that we put on there. So you'll see how that works in a second. The other thing that I'm going to talk about because I don't really talk about it too often, but the one on the top called this layer. So we need to use a different diagram for that. Because if I say this layer, which is this one right here. If this layer right here, which is magenta, has any black in it, drop it out. If this layer which is magenta has any white in it, drop it out. But the tricky thing about that, especially when using a solid swatch of color like that, is it's just going to drop it out as soon as you get to what the value is of magenta. So the actual value of this magenta color is about 105. So once it gets to 105 it drops it out. So it's kind of difficult to think about things with this description with this layer. So we're going to do this. We're going to open up this little thing that I've prepared here, which will show us this layer. So if I double-click on this right here where it says this layer, notice how this layer that we're working with has black transitioning into magenta and white transitioning into magenta. So when we are working with this layer, we are saying this layer, drop your shadows. Or this layer, drop your highlights. And then we can even also incorporate the underlying there. So drop your shadows, drop your highlights, and protect the underlying layer's shadows. That's where things get a little bit like okay dude, you just went a little too fast. So I have to teach it to you, I have to show it to you, now we're going to get into the practical application of this so you can actually make heads from tails from this, otherwise you're just going to be sitting here like okay that's cool, magic fairy dust, I don't know how to use it.