Brooks Photoshop Pro Tip: A Surrealist Landscape – No Compositing Necessary

December 20, 2012

This week’s Brooks Pro Tip comes from Professional Photography instructor Rob Winner.

This panoramic image was taken in the Sierras above the tree line at about 12,000 feet during a backpacking trip I did in September of this year. The lack of trees gives it a surrealistic feeling. I wanted to enhance that mood by adding an over-sized moon to the scene. 

Utilizing Photoshop’s layers and a blend mode, this is fast and easy to put together. Only two layers are necessary. First, I opened the landscape in Photoshop and then added the moon as a second layer, sizing it appropriately for the effect I wanted. The moon was originally photographed with a 400mm lens against the night sky.

On the second layer (the moon layer) we are going to set the blend mode for that layer to screen. Screen mode automatically drops out the black of the night sky, leaving the moon against the sky of the landscape image. That’s it – super simple!

I did add a third layer for the reflection of the moon in the water. This was done by duplicating the second layer of the moon and flipping it vertically and placing it in the water so that it appears to be a reflection.

This simple technique can be used to place any object originally photographed on a black background into a scene.

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