Ice and Auroras – creative photoshop blending

Ice and Auroras – creative photoshop blending

Photoshop Blending

For creative abstracts.

Abstract Ice

This photograph was from the ice beach at Jökulsarlon. This is a good way to spend your photography time if you happen to catch a rainy Jökulsarlon. For starters, you can capture some incredible glacier textures that you don’t see in the wide angle photos. Also, this works well with telephoto lenses that often come with long hoods. These make you look even more professional as well as keeping all the rain from your lens element. The key to composing these is to look for areas where you can fill a frame with no ugly bits. The ugly bits are where the ice has broken or there are sandy, size 8 footprints on it. If you are lucky, you will have a frame of pure, natural glacier sculpture.
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ice abstract open in photoshop

Glacier ice abstract open in photoshop

Aurora as a layer

The Northern lights image is from a March Photo Workshop in the same region as the ice. This crop is from a straight-up shot. I pointed my camera upwards and filled the frame with sky. There was a lot of activity, so it was a matter of chance if you captured a great pattern. The best strategy, therefore, was to shoot shorter exposures (higher iso) so I could catch more frames. However, I only took 2 photos in this upward direction and hey are both usable.

I open the aurora crop as a layer on top of the glacier ice.
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Northern lights as a photoshop layer

Northern lights as a photoshop layer

Hard-light blending mode

It was only “Overlay”, Soft-light” and “Hard-light” blending modes that allowed the ice textures to come through. Soft-light was too soft and hard-light was too hard! It could be possible to fade in the Northern lights layer, but I had another idea…
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Hard-light blending mode

Hard-light blending mode

Don’t forget to share!!

Screen Blending mode

I duplicated the Northern lights layer and set the blending mode to “Screen”. This effectively brightens the combined files. I reduced the layer to around 50% opacity to achieve the desired result.

See what the different blending modes actually do.
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Screen blending mode

Screen blending mode


Thanks for Reading!!

Position, select & crop

I actually positioned the Aurora earlier when I had the hard-light blending mode active. The lines on the glacier ice compliment the lines of the aurora nicely.
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Selection crop photoshop

Selection crop photoshop

Check out more image focus below…

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Using a dark cloth (or card) you can reduce the exposure to the sky (or highlights) by covering the front of the lens for part of the exposure time

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