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Tips & Tricks

How To Use Blend Modes To Totally Revamp Your Photography | Brilliant Work From Jimmy McIntyre

By Kishore Sawh on January 21st 2015

He says, as a closing statement, that he hopes this tutorial has inspired you to explore blend modes more. He, is Jimmy McIntyre, and he needn’t hope, because it has, and I’ll bet for you it will. In near-as-makes-no-difference 7 minutes, McIntyre illustrates how incredibly powerful Photoshop blend modes are, and how fast they can be manipulated for effect.


McIntyre’s been published globally, and for prestigious names such as the BBC, and named one of the top photographers to follow on 500px. He’s also an instructor who’s taught on numerous continents, in more than one language, and offers post processing courses you will likely be interested in after you see what he’s offered up here.

Living a nomadic lifestyle, with around 30kg of possessions, McIntyre seems somewhat of a bohemian gypsy. Maybe less Gypsy, more a stoic; he says he lives and breathes photography, and the flow-state ease with which he delivers his material suggests that is true.


We’ve all used blend modes to some extent during our time in Photoshop, but if you’re like me and tend to photograph within the same genre most of the time (for me it’s people and aviation), you may fall into using the same blend modes over and over. Furthermore, you may only use those blend modes in very specific Photoshop processes, which doesn’t really give you a chance to see what they can do.

[REWIND: Focus Stacking and Blending in Adobe Bridge and Photoshop: A How To Guide]


Here, Jimmy takes you through everything from the ‘Lighten’ blend mode, through soft-light, Overlay, Darken, and Luminosity. Each of these, as demonstrated by Jimmy, will likely have immediate practical value to your work, and will just as likely upgrade the quality of your images, but also the pace of your workflow. I come across an absolute torrent of Photoshop tutorials, and many are great and ultra specific, but few are this revelatory in such a short span of time, with such a broad span of application. Highly recommend you spend the few minutes with it.

And if this is anything to go by, do take the time to check our what Jimmy has to offer on his site, as it’s sure to also be worth your time, and impress. You can find him on his site for workshops and tutorials here, and on 500px.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Scott Pacaldo

    are the other examples be considered as a composite? I’m familiar with the Luminosity on Curves one because of Michael Woloszynowicz’s retouching tuts :D

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  2. Mason Envisons

    Great post. I established the rep as a great editor before I ventured in photography. I love seeing PS tutorials where photographers are engaged in the comments. It’s good to see people aren’t afraid to modify their images in Photoshop.

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  3. Tosh Cuellar

    great work, fantastic tips, I routinely rotate through all the blend modes and only REALLY know what a few are used for, this is wonderful information.

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  4. David Hall

    These are great tips. Thank you for sharing and such a great video.

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  5. Matthew Saville

    Man that Skyline panorama is gorgeous! Love the city lights blending with the sunset… (I guess that’s the down-side of being in the middle of freaking nowhere…)

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  6. Lissette Garcia

    Great tutorial. Thank you.

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    Great work

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  8. David Toldo

    Thanks a lot, really cool!!

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  9. Jason Boa

    Stunning !

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  10. Basit Zargar

    Will surely follow this :)

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  11. J D

    Love these tutorials. I’ve learned so much from them and my PP has improved greatly.

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  12. Erica Mengouchian

    Amazing video with great tips! So excited to try them out :)

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  13. Michael Burnham

    Great tutorial! Easy to follow.

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  14. Andrew Sebrell

    I don’t subscribe to Adobe CC, so I purchased Photoshop Elements (12). I also have Lightroom v5. I’ve found Elements kind of useless and whenever I see posts about Photoshop, I wonder Can I do this with Elements? Can you tell me if any of these techniques translate? Then, I’ll just have to figure out where. Thanks.

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    • Lars Joreteg

      Yes, all of the techniques (and blending modes) demonstrated in the video are available in Photoshop Elements. (I have version 11 for Windows)

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