Manage Layers in Your HDR Image

Being able to manage your layers in your HDR image is important, especially if you’re using them to perform complex image blending. Here are some of the more important layer commands you should be familiar with in Photoshop Elements 8:

  • Select a layer. Click the layer thumbnail or name to select it. This makes the layer active. Just about everything you do (paint, erase, apply adjustments, alter layer opacity, and so on) happens to the selected layer.

  • Duplicate a layer. This creates a copy of the layer you selected and puts it above the original. You have a chance to rename the copy as you create it. To duplicate a layer, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) the layer in the Layers palette and choose Duplicate Layer.

  • Rename a layer. Being able to rename any layer is helpful to keep track of what you’re doing. Rename the layers according to what you’re doing with them. For example, you could rename a layer to Sharpen, indicating you sharpened it. To rename a layer, double-click its name in the Layers palette. Type in a new name and click elsewhere to complete the operation.

  • Drag and drop layers. Click to drag and then release to drop a layer to change its order in the Layers palette, as shown. I don’t normally need to move a bunch of layers around, but you can duplicate your Background layer and move it to the top to quickly compare the final versus original image by hiding and showing the new top layer.

    image0.jpg
  • Hide a layer. Poke the eyeball next to the layer thumbnail (as seen in the figure) to turn off the layer. Poke the empty box where it was to turn the layer back on.

  • Change the opacity. Use the arrow shown in this figure to access the Opacity slider. Move it back and forth to change the opacity of the layer you have chosen. Remember, this affects the selected layer. Make sure you have the correct layer selected before altering the opacity. You can also select the opacity percentage and enter a new value from your keyboard.

    image1.jpg
  • Use a blending mode. Select the Blending Mode drop-down list to access the long list of blending modes.

  • The rest: Of course, you can delete layers, link layers, merge layers, and so forth. The more you study layers, the more you will open up the commands and options. As you do so, you will continue to enhance your ability to edit HDR images.

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