Blend Modes – Learning to Love Them

No matter what editing software you use today, it will likely include layers, masking and blend modes (also known as blending modes).  Everybody’s doing it now – Photoshop and Lightroom, of course, but also ON1, Luminar, Topaz, etc.

orange-translate-buttonAnd the more software that includes blend modes, the more frustrated I get at their lack of ability to explain in plain English exactly what they are.  I’ve read countless blogs, gone to workshops partly to understand them, watched countless YouTube videos looking to make sense of them, and more often than not, the recommendation of the instructor is simply to try them and see what happens.  My brain needs more.  I want to be able to explain them.  This post will try to do that.

Before you run screaming from the room, I’m not going to give you the item by item breakdown of all of the blend modes available in any software.  My intent is to help you understand what a blend mode does generally and how to make a choice among the ones you have available in your software. Continue reading “Blend Modes – Learning to Love Them”

The Meaning of Life (ok, not quite)

One of the most confusing parts of photo editing for me is finding simple definitions for some of the concepts inherent in photo editing software.  Things like layers, blend modes and opacity, which are concepts many people ask about.  But also the difference between pixel layers, raster layers, adjustment layers, and fill layers.

Featured ImageWhat are filters and why are they separate from adjustments?  And what the heck is rasterizing anyway? Or the difference between “rasters” and “vectors”?  And what is “rendering”?  And of course, the single most important concept – non-destructive vs. destructive editing.

Despite shooting for many years, I stumble my way through explaining these concepts.  So I finally went looking for the real answers.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.   But I persevered.  Here’s what I found. Continue reading “The Meaning of Life (ok, not quite)”