digital photography tips with Digital Photo Mentor Darlene Hildebrandt

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How to do Nondestructive Editing in Photoshop Using Layers

There are many ways to do anything in Photoshop, some better than others. By learning how to use layers and Smart Objects you can safely edit your image with peace of mind – knowing that you are not ruining it, and you can get it all back at any time.

I get a lot of requests for Photoshop tips and tutorials. So, in this video I wanted to focus on some of the basics and get you started on a good solid foundation.

One of the first things you'll want to learn is how to use layers, and how they can help you do something called nondestructive editing in Photoshop.

Before and after – nondestructive editing in Photoshop

See how I take this image:

From this - unedited
From this – unedited
To this - edited, and fully able to tweak any edits, including get cropped parts back again.
To this – edited, and still fully able to tweak any edits, including the ability to get cropped parts of the image back again.

Why Photoshop?

I use Lightroom for about 90% of my photo editing and processing and only jump over to Photoshop when I need to use layers for something. One example of that is to combine two images as in a composite, or adding a texture overlay. This is where the power of layers really shines.

In the video you will see me take these two images:



And make something completely new that didn't exist before, by combining them into one.


Watch the video tutorial

Here are links to the other Photoshop tutorials I mentioned in the video:

Lastly, this may help you with this month's photography challenge as well – head over to Get Processing – August Photography Challenge for more details, and to participate. We have not one, but TWO great prizes up for grabs this month, and you get to play with some of my images.


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lightroom alternative photo editing software

  • Lenie Hulse

    I am not sure you have the before and after correct in the pictures of the seals. The after looks washed out!

    • Hi Lenie – please watch the video. I applied a b/w layer and lowered the opacity so it has the effect of a faded color image. So yes that is the after image.

  • Video tutorial is excellent.

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