video: basic digital photography montage technique

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Here’s something a little different for prophotolife, an eight minute video on basic photo montage technique. As you may know, I like to do most of my work during exposure and usually don’t spend a whole lot of time in post-production. Just a little knowledge can go a long way, though, when experimenting and having fun putting together simple compositions like the one in this video. Luckily, my business partner, Bob, is a Photoshop wizard and enjoys spending his days creating the really complex photo composites for our studio.

I’ll mention that our studio owns a copy of every version of Photoshop from PS 4 through to our current CS3 Production Premium Suite for our Mac computers (that’s a lot of money spent with Adobe over the years). But for this video I used the entry-level Adobe Photoshop Elements for Windows because that’s what’s loaded on my blogging laptop and I always think it’s interesting to see what can be done with simple equipment. There was a hack done to the software (as mentioned) since PS Elements doesn’t normally include layer masks, an important feature for photo editing.

Here’s the link to the Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements, in case you’re interested. And if you’re interested in trying out any of the Adobe products, from Elements to CS4 to Lightroom 2, they’re all available as free trial downloads at the International Adobe Store. It’s nice to try before you buy.

Below is a closer look at the result the model photo and layer mask produce when paired together. You can see that on the mask “white reveals and black conceals”. Extrapolate a bit and you’ll see that various shades of gray reveal proportionate amounts of the underlying image.

And here are all of the elements that were paired together for the final image: the wall, the model and the “burned edges”, created with the black paintbrush. has a variety of learning materials available for more information on Photoshop Elements and the creative possibilities.