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Make better HDR photos with layers & masking in Aurora HDR. We'll show you how.
As the team at Adobe said: “Layers are like sheets of stacked acetate. You can see through transparent areas of a layer to the layers below. You move a layer to position the content on the layer, like sliding a sheet of acetate in a stack. You can also change the opacity of a layer to make the content partially transparent”.
To paraphrase, a layer is simply one image stacked on the top of another, with the image on top being visible above of the layers below it.
Change these to adjust the way the selected layer blends (or displays) with the layers below it.
The short answer - all the time! As a photographer who is passionate about your final result, it’s in your best interest to always use a nondestructive editing method. This allows you to go back to any step of your editing and make safe adjustments, or even revert to your original image with just a single click of a button.
For the safest and cleanest workflow, we recommend making every new change on a different layer to control your image. As you can see from the gallery, every change we’ve made has been done on a new layer. By clicking the "+" icon on the top of the layer section, you can add up to 14 layers with the PRO version of Aurora to work on.
If desired, for each new layer we can create a very selective editing process. As an added bonus, using layer-masking techniques, we can apply very powerful and intense edits to selective regions of our image. We can even apply a texture to the whole image or just a selective area. In the image below, we applied a texture only to the sky.
To use layers in Aurora HDR, you simply have to hit the "+" button on the top right of the side toolbar in the layer section. Add up to 14 in Aurora HDR Pro, and if you make a mistake, or decide you don’t need it anymore, you can remove the layer by hitting the "-" button.
When the layer is a lighter gray shade than others, you know it’s selected and anything you do is operating only on that layer. Change the Opacity of the layer by simply clicking the opacity drop down slider and adjust it to your liking.
The next powerful tool hidden within Layers is the ability to use Masks! A mask is simply an area that you select telling Aurora HDR that any edits should only be applied to that area.
Masks are enabled at 100% by default, but by selecting the brush tool you can also paint in selective edits to your image. By default, the masking brush is set to a 50% opacity, but you have the control to change this from 1% to 100% and the amount of feathering!
For example, you might want a foreground to be highly detailed while the sky remains somewhat soft. Simply create a new layer, brush the mask into the foreground to define an area for your photo enhancement, and then add details using the Structure or Detail controls on the Adjust panel. Experiment on your own images to see how Brush opacity and feathering work.
Luminosity masks are very special masks that are automatically created by Aurora HDR. When you create a new layer and choose “Create Luminosity Mask” from the layer menu, the software makes a mask that separates light and dark tones in the image and preserves their relative strength. When you apply effects to a Luminosity Mask, the enhancements are more pronounced in the light areas of the image.For more information on working with layers and masks, check out the videos in our gallery. Happy editing.
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