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editing with layers

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  • editing with layers

    Okay, I've managed to get myself nicely bemused, and slightly confused, by Nick's thread about editing to fix perspective. I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

    My problem isn't about vanishing points and how they work, I fully understand that from A-level Art. This problem is about using software.

    I use free stuff and have never been on a training course to use expensive software, so can't transfer any knowledge or skills.

    One of the problems I have with understanding this is the "why" and "how", I suppose it's a bit of a mental block.

    I don't really understand what layers do and why/how they should be used instead of simply editing the picture itself (- and yes, I know about taking care of original images etc.). As far as I can see, especially when changing perspective and fixing distortions, any layer goes on top of the original and covers it up. So what's the point of "layers", and why/how should they be used?

    Is there a 'complete idiots guide' somewhere or other? Either that or could somebody please gently guide this idiot through the confusion.

    Thanks.
    - my pictures -

  • #2
    Re: editing with layers

    As I've already demonstrated the ability to spread confusion.

    Layers are the key to doing all sorts of clever things.

    This morning I had an image out of Photomatix with some small black marks where the software had not coped with the movement of leaves. Not visible at web resolution but potentially a problem for a good quality printed image.

    To get rid of these I created a duplicate layer (one that contained all the info of the original) and then upped the resolution to 200% and cloned the spots out with a small diameter brush. Then I blurred the whole area of leaves with a small diameter gaussian blur to get rid of the brush circles. Finally I recombined the layers with 'lighten only', which gave back practically all the sharpness but meant the spots (which had been black) were gone.

    I can't see how I could have rescued that area of the image without layers.

    OK a very specific example but

    1) Layers let you try out an edit and then back-out to the image as was - useful if you are midway through a complex series of actions.

    2) Layers let you merge together (in a variety of ways) 2 versions of the same image, very useful to emphasise shadows (duplicate layer, up the contrast, merge back to taste with soft light (or darken only)).

    3) Layers (and or channels) are how you can automatically make masks (effectively very complex selections you don't have to draw by hand) which means you can work on parts/tonal ranges/colours etc seperately.

    4) Layers are also the way that GIMP supports cut and paste, so the bit you want to paste into an image becomes a floating layer/selection that you can move/position.

    5) Plus throwaway things like lines you later want to remove.

    It's a wonderful world with layers - really unlocks the potential of the tool.

    Nick
    Nick Temple-Fry

    Medicine as a science ranks somewhere between archaeology and economics.

    www.theChurchPhotographer.co.uk 90 Churches -- Fairford St Mary's, exceptionally splendid
    www.temple-fry.co.uk

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    • #3
      Re: editing with layers

      Ellie, think of layers as pieces of clear perspex that you can add to or remove from and anything underneath that has not been covered shows through.

      Typicaly layers are used for compositing images, but the most usefull are "adjustment layers" for making tonal or colour adjustments none destructivley which can be altered or removed at will without pushing any pixals around and degrading the image.

      There is a simple adjustment layer tutorial on my pbase website for selective colouring, but the premis is the same for curves/colour/levels adjustment layers...you will need Elements or software that supports adjutment layers to follow it.

      You can find it here, just start at the first image and press next
      http://www.pbase.com/paulsilkphotogr...olour_tutorial
      Regards Paul.
      One day I hope to be the person my dogs think I am.

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_silk/

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      • #4
        Re: editing with layers

        Ellie

        I don't think the original thread is a great one to consider layers against - the instincts you express in you post are spot on there.

        However as Nick has further outlined there are a huge number of tasks that can only really be done effectively by merging two, or more, versions of the image and with the additional controls of the layer opacity and the merge mode itself.

        I probably use 1/1000th of the capability in my processing (and even that badly) but, even at that, I get 1000 x the results I could achieve before I used layers at all.

        Give me another 20 years and I might even achieve some of it without the trial and error that remains core to my approach today.........
        E, Pen and OM-D bodies
        43 m43 and legacy glass
        loads of flashes and accessories from all the systems

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        • #5
          Re: editing with layers

          I believe the only way to learn how to use layers (or anything) is by playing with them. There are some good "tutorials" about that will help

          http://www.photoshopessentials.com/basics/

          http://www.photoanswers.co.uk/Video-Tutorials/

          The real big advantage with layers is that you don't have to "undo" and do it differently, just add another layer, try something else on that swap from one to the other to see what you like best.

          Get a bold colourfull image and try different things

          There's no mistakes only lessons learned...
          Graham

          We often repeat the mistakes we most enjoy...

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          • #6
            Re: editing with layers

            It is confusing understanding layers and why and where you need to use them. I can't remember how I learnt to use them but once I did it all fell into place and then you can have lots of fun. The pic below was created using about 7 or 8 layers, this is a classic example of layering.

            Paul


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            • #7
              Re: editing with layers

              I'm with Ellie on this. Hopefully, Layers is one of the topics Ian will cover in his proposed workshops.
              John

              "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

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              • #8
                Re: editing with layers

                Lots of interesting reading to keep me busy

                Originally posted by Zuiko View Post
                I'm with Ellie on this.
                Phew, I'm glad somebody is!

                No chance of me getting to one of Ian's workshops, so I'll have to rely on the internet - and Gimp!

                @Woofmix/Paul - How about explaining how you did that!
                - my pictures -

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                • #9
                  Re: editing with layers

                  Sure Ellie,

                  I just figured it out myself, trial and error it's really not hard just requires patience, this one only took me about an hour to proccess and about the same to setup and photograph.

                  In a nutshell set the camera on a tripod and either use a remote release or self timer and take as many shots as you need. For your first one just use 2 images to keep it relitively simple.

                  Open them all in Photoshop (I use CS3), pick one shot as the background (I use the one of me furtherest away from the camera) and drag all the other shots in as layers using the "move" tool while pressing shift, I then use the magnetic lasso tool to select my image from each shot (you don't have to be accurate in fact including stuff just around your image is beneficial), then select "copy merged" then "paste into" the background image, each one of these cutouts then appears as a new layer which can be edited on it's own to make it fit in with the background.
                  Just play about, once you understand how things work it becomes quite easy.

                  Good luck, ask if you need a hand :-)

                  Paul

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                  • #10
                    Re: editing with layers

                    Thanks Paul, it's as clear as mud at the moment. I ought to spend some time playing and see what happens, but I keep bottling out in case I break something.

                    I haven't got Photoshop but I'd guess it's the same sort of process in Gimp.
                    - my pictures -

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                    • #11
                      Re: editing with layers

                      Originally posted by Ellie View Post
                      Thanks Paul, it's as clear as mud at the moment. I ought to spend some time playing and see what happens, but I keep bottling out in case I break something.

                      I haven't got Photoshop but I'd guess it's the same sort of process in Gimp.
                      Well nothing will break if you start with a copy of an imge - at least not irrevocably.

                      Ellie - if it's any help it took me ages to get over the hump you are now balancing on, from the 'down hill slope' it's hard to imagine not working with layers.

                      And whilst The GIMP lacks a good book there are lots of on-line tutorials that google will find.

                      Nick
                      Nick Temple-Fry

                      Medicine as a science ranks somewhere between archaeology and economics.

                      www.theChurchPhotographer.co.uk 90 Churches -- Fairford St Mary's, exceptionally splendid
                      www.temple-fry.co.uk

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                      • #12
                        Re: editing with layers

                        Ellie, Paul is correct that layers in that context are just cut and paste and then just a matter over moving them to the position you want and in the layer order you want them to overlap. You can also fade them using the opacity slider or blend them using a layer mask on the cutout layer.

                        Sounds complicated but once it clicks into place you wonder why you never understood in the first place.

                        Well worth learning as you can do some artistic montages or just replace objects in a image.

                        You will not have seen this here as they were shot in my film days but this is a montage of a American Civil War reeenactment I attended.

                        I call it North Meets South

                        Which was made up from these images




                        Or for a portait with a little difference something like this is possible using layers.

                        Regards Paul.
                        One day I hope to be the person my dogs think I am.

                        https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_silk/

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                        • #13
                          Re: editing with layers

                          One thing worth mentioning is that *the* big failing of gimp compared to CS3/4 etc is that Gimp does not support adjustment layers. ie layers which are modifiers rather than images.

                          I understand that Krita is an opensource/free package which does handle adjustment layers (it is in the timeline for gimp but not for some time), but I'm not sure about Krita availability outside linux. (it is packaged as part of the Koffice so KDE based distributions.) there is an online guide to installing it on the mac but it didnt work for me and I've not had time/inclination to fiddle about.

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                          • #14
                            Re: editing with layers

                            Layers are wonderful

                            Even in a simple exercise like some dodging & burning, if you create a duplidate layer from time to time you can switch beween them for comparison and have "fall back" positions if you decide you've overdone it

                            At the end of the process simply delete the ones you don't want and hey presto ..

                            There have been threads on replacing skies ... I use layers for that as you can slide the background layer around until you're happy

                            Or of course you can do the adjustments etc as suggested

                            Do learn them .. .you'll love them

                            Regards
                            Andy
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                            • #15
                              Re: editing with layers

                              Originally posted by shenstone View Post
                              Layers are wonderful

                              Do learn them ... you'll love them
                              Gulp!

                              You all make it look so incredibly easy.

                              Can I just eat some Maltesers instead?
                              - my pictures -

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