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I had a bit of a discussion last night about Photoshop and I had thought I had done a piece on smart objects previously. Anyway, I did not so this will correct the omission. I’m going to talk about one use of smart objects, one I use all the time. I’m going to use an image from our recent weekend in Clare with Celbridge Camera club. Its nothing special, but its ideal for demonstration purposes. Start Image So, not the most exciting image in the world, but here’s what I did with it. I work with Lightroom so that’s my starting point. I don’t apply any changes in Lightroom. For the purposes of this exercise, I am assuming that we are working with raw images (You do shoot in RAW, don’t you!). From Lightroom, right on the image, click on “Edit in” and choose “Open as smart object” from the menu. Its a bit more complex in Adobe bridge; Right-click on the image, choose “Open in Camera Raw” and shift+left click on the open image button. Regardless of how you do it, the image will open open in Photoshop and should look like the image above. This image is typical of the averaging of exposure that most modern cameras will come up with on evaluative metering. What we are going to do next is to take advantage of the feature of smart objects that retains settings from actions. So, in the layers palette, right click on the newly created smart object and choose “New Smart Object via copy”. This will create 2 independent smart object layers with the raw properties attached. The exposure and other settings of each layer can be modified independently. If you create the copy layer any other way, the two layer are linked and the exposure controls will apply to both. Next, open the bottom layer and adjust the raw settings to something similar to the image above. In this case, we are exposing for the shadow areas and we can safely ignore the sky, I also set clarity and vibrance to boost the local contrast and colour intensity. The final setting used here are really down to personal taste and the great thing is that because its a smart object, you can go back and tweak them as much as you want! Next, double click on the top layer smart object. Again the camera raw interface will launch This time, ignore the foreground and concentrate on the sky and other lighter elements of the image. The two images should look something like the examples shown. The last thing to do is to mask the top layer to allow portions of the bottom layer to show through
  • Click on the top layer in the layers palette
  • Click on the layers mask icon  to add a layer mask
  • With a soft brush and paint in black to allow the bottom layer show through
The finished image: The raw image is available for download here: [dm]2[/dm]