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Photoshop: Perfecting your image, layer by layer

By: Dan Feildman

To capture a perfect image, a photographer needs to understand the delicate balance between the light conditions, the precise amount of exposure that his image needs and also the precise lenses and filters which will deliver him the final, flawless photograph. However, it so happens that despite these measures, the image does not always figure the way you imagined it to be. Re-shooting the image is not a very viable option, given the large investments in terms of time and money the process calls for. And hence we are lead to the art of editing. A device widely used by conventional and digital photographers, alike, editing software allows you to rework your image until you achieve the exact results you were aiming for. And as time and technology have advanced, many new kinds of software have been developed, of which Adobe Photoshop is undoubtedly one of the most prominent names.

Many a times, editing software does produce the desired effect, but significantly lowers the image quality. As a result, many photographers choose not to experiment with editing software but try the more conventional "darkroom techniques." With Photoshop, this hurdle is vanquished as you can work on your image without altering the original content itself. And this can be accomplished by using "Layers" which are similar in nature to transparencies, each of which consists of a part of the image. When stacked over each other, these layers collectively form the complete image. Hence, by using layers, you can work on only a particular part of the image to which you can apply your choice of effects while leaving the rest of the photograph unchanged.

Hence, if you have a picture which is overexposed at certain parts, you can focus on building density and modifying the color of that particular layer, until it blends in with the rest of the image. And if your judgment is not wholly accurate at the first go, you can also choose to undo the effects in parts until you reach the phase which is workable and take it from there. This is because, you are undoing, not the overall effect of the image itself, but only of the particular layer or even a section of the layer, thus saving you from investing a lot more time and effort which redoing the entire image would have called for. Here, you can also experiment with the Multiple Undo option which lets you experiment to your hearts content and yet stick with only the changes which are appropriate to your final image.

Adjustment Layers also allow you to undo all the effects that you have applied on your image, and start all over from scratch without compromising on the image quality. You can also view your editing process at every step by turning of the visibility of the layer you are working on to analyze the final outcome and then turn to visibility back on to continue with the process.

Photoshop lets you choose between two alternatives when it comes to creating your personalized layers. You can either start at the Layer Menu and choose an adjustment layer from the New Adjustment layer Sub-Menu or click on the Layer Palette icon which enables you to choose a layer adjustment type from the pop up menu. To save on time and effort in future, you can even save the layer adjustments to apply them on further images in future without having to worry about if you'll achieve the same results.

It also helps if you label each layer with a distinctive name, so that shifting from one layer to another is not a very bothersome task. To do this, you can double click on the Layer you are working on where you can enter the title you've selected for your layer in the Name field and then click OK to save the name. You may also want to hide all the other layers except for the one you are working on, to help you focus better, to do which, you need to click on the eye icons next to each unwanted layer to make them disappear. To bring them back on, click on the eye icon again and there you go! You're all set to work on your next layer.

If you find yourself flooded with more layers than you can handle, you can delete the ones you don't need, while keeping the others which you plan to work on just as they are. If you like, you can also merge layers into a single layer by clicking on the layers you want to merge and then choosing the Merge layers option in the Layer Menu. If you plan to master Photoshop, it is vital you learn the finer nuances of layers to make the most of your software as the clich goes, the results will be for all to see!

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Getting to know Digital Photography is better on many points. Classes have developed and new ways have risen. Right now you can read all about painting with light

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