First, what are Layers?
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.
Here are the reasons to work with layers
- Layers provide you a non-destructive form of editing
- You are working on the top or on the copies of your original image
- You get so much more control of your image
- You can change the opacity of any effects
- You can add layer masks to work selectively with the adjustments
- You can add/work with Luminosity Masks on new layers
- You can add Texture Files or even load source files from your HDR Stack
- You can use blending modes to change the way layers interact
Blending modes. Explained.
Change these to adjust the way the selected
layer blends (or displays) with the layers below it.
- Normal: blend modes will display your image exactly as shot
- Overlay: combines Multiply and Screen blend modes
- Hard Light: combines Multiply and Screen blend modes
- Soft Light: it is a softer version of Hard Light
- Screen: inverts both layers, multiplies them and inverts the result
- Multiply: simply multiplies each component in the two layers
- Color: divides the inverted bottom layer by the top layer, and then inverts them
- Luminosity: preserves the hue and chroma of the bottom layer
When to use layers?
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.