Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Photoshop has some very powerful blending options available. One often overlooked part is the "blend-if" feature, to control what is shown or affected based on the brightness of each pixel either of the current layer, or of the layers below. This video walks you though using the blend-if feature.

The video explains it clearly, but as a visual aid, double click any layer, and this Layer Style dialog box will pop up. The blend-if function is at the bottom where I've surrounded it in a pink box in this image. You can blend-if using the current layer's (the one you double clicked) brightness values, or those of the underlying layer.

Click and drag on the arrow you want to affect, (yellow box) Black arrow adjusts from the dark end, and white from the light end. To separate, which gives you a smoother transition, alt+click and drag on one side of the arrow to separate them. (orange box) This starts the affect at the inner most arrow, and slowly fades to full affect till the value reaches the outer most arrow. If you drag it till they meet, they snap together again and you'll have to alt+click to separate them again.

Friday, September 17, 2010



Settings: In each individual shot, ambient is underexposed almost completely. There is one flash in a 1.5 meter softlighter over head, it's set to expose properly at head height, and then falls off down the body. There is also a giant 1x2 meter silver reflector angled up, on the ground in front of them, this provides the fill from below. The background plate was taken properly exposed with regular room lighting.

band promo cover compositing tutorial from Ben Mathis on Vimeo.

I said I was going to make a video of my compositing workflow for this shot, and I finally did. (I needed a microphone). I used audacity to noise reduce and normalize the volume, so it should be easy to listen to. The movement through the process is rather quick, so any areas that are unclear, please post a comment and I can do a follow up in-depth video on one of those aspects.

More advanced topics used in the video are covered here: Masks

The background plate was taken with a tripod so I could use f/8 (the sharpest aperture on my camera body and this lens) at iso 100 (for maximum dynamic range). I think the exposure time was 1/10 of a second, far too slow to hand hold.