This Secret Layer technique makes all 3 levels of editing easier…

Using layers in Lightroom has improved a lot in the past year. In Photoshop it’s a lot the same and in Capture One nothing ever changes. But there are layers and that’s good for you.

There are 3 levels of edits and the secret layer makes them all easier.

They will make you edit faster but if you use them the way layers should be used, they will also help you ensure to don’t edit your photo wrong. That combo gives you the secret layer.

No longer second-guess your edits.

The secret layer consists of two parts really. #1 is perspective for your edit. #2 is quickly adjusting it and applying a more informed perspective to your edit instantly. Al the basic level this works with individual presets like Silver or more complex masks like Elegance creates for you.

Sometimes I shadow painting details manually. Or maybe I’m using fast tools like Lumist, Blackroom Black and White, or Signature Emulsion. Well-built actions like this create your layers stack so the secret layer is instantly ready.

Digital edits are easy to overcook when you start adding layers. But layers are also the secret to getting more dimensional and creative edits. Here I used GoldChrome and simply dialed it back in this level 1 edit.

How far should you edit?

We’ll look at 3 levels of editing in the video and using those as a guide is really useful because you can decide how far to go in each segment of your project. I only go to level 3 on my best images, which can vary.

In the portrait example in today’s video, I took it all the way to an illustrative look, but it would also be a lighter effect or just some simple atmospheric actions like Alchemist.

The secret layer varies in each app.

But the concept is the same. Some apps like Lightroom are more advanced. They reward you directly for supplying things as a preset as I show with masks. So you want to use that method if you create your own presets.

Photoshop is very powerful and uses a more ould school-layer approach.

Capture One doe the same though with a little less power because of the lack of stacking. That said you can still build edits on those layers and then control them to use the secret layer.

I hope you find this as exciting as me and put it to work right away. Leave your questions or tips in the comments.

Gavin Seim

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About the Author

Glad you're here.

I'm from WA State USA and started studying photography in 97. I started work as a pro (using that word loosely because I sucked) using film at age 16. I learned fast but was not as easy to find training then. Sometimes I beat my head against the wall until I figured stuff out.

As digital dawned I went all in and got to study with masters like Ken Whitmire. In 09 I founded the Pro Photo Show podcast. I started promoting tone-focused editing. When Lightroom arrived, I started developing tools to make editing and workflow better.

20 years of study and photography around the country earned me a Master of Photography (M.Photog) from PPA. I got to see my workshops and tools featured in publications across the industry. Once I even won the prestigious HotOne award for my "EXposed" light and tone workshop.

Wanting something calmer, I moved to Mexico in 2017. It's a land of magical light. I'm here now exploring light and trying to master my weak areas. I make videos of that for my Youtube channel, sharing what I learn. I hope you'll stick around and be part of Light Hunters Tribe... Gavin

Gavin Seim

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