Some things are a little tough to do in any photo editing application. Some things just appear to be hard to do. Today’s image is one of the later. It starts out as two separate images and ends up as a composite. It would be easy to add the moon to the image of the church in any of several different ways. You could use the Erase Tool (E) [yuck]. You could make a Mask and Mask out the moon. Readers can probably come up with another twelve methods of getting the image of the moon onto the main image. The rub comes when you try to put the moon into the image “and” behind the branches of the tree. I can’t imagine the Eraser Tool (E) being successful. I could go along with using a mask, but you’d probably be stuck with the moon in one spot. It you decided you wanted to move the moon you’d unlock the Mask from the image Layer and have limited ability to shift the moon. There is a method that’s incredibly easy that’s overlooked (or unknown) by 99% of Photoshop users. It’s not available in Adobe Photoshop Elements of any version. If you’re interested in finding out about this little used secret weapon, hit the “read more”.This deep dark secret is actually very easy to use. The first thing to do is to bring the image of the moon over onto the Layer structure of the image of the church. With the moon Layer above the church Layer and the moon Layer active, double click on the moon Layer’s panel. This brings up the Layer Style dialog box. Down at the bottom of the box is the Blend If options. You can see it has two slides. One is “This Layer” and the other is “Underlying Layer. To remove the black sky from the moon Layer, drag the “This Layer” slider to the right. It won’t take much to see a dramatic effect. You might see a slight black ring around the moon. If you do, split the tick marker by holding down the ALT key while moving one half of the tick. Move the right side a little further to the right. You’ll now have a clean image of the moon in the sky. If you stop here you’re image looks like you added a shot of the moon. Pretty blatant.
Now slide the “Underlying Layer” slider slightly to the right and you see the branches show through the moon. You may have to split the tick mark again to get the right amount of detail without blocking up the smaller twig like branches.
That’s it. Another way to make Photoshop work for you rather than making you do the heavy lifting.