Photoshop Tutorial: Blend Modes to Boost Your Photos

by Jim Zuckerman

Chinook Helicopter
Chinook Helicopter
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
I recently photographed a Chinook military helicopter as it flew by my house. The sky was white and very boring, so I combined various sunsets behind it until I decided to try something a little more dramatic. I had taken a remarkable explosion at an air show a couple of years ago and I thought that would make an amazing backdrop. The issue, of course, was how to cut out the chopper from the bland sky and make it look real.

Since the background was completely white, the answer was actually very easy. I copied the image of the aircraft to the clipboard (Command/Ctrl A and then Command/Ctrl C) and then pasted it on top of the photo of the explosion (Command/Ctrl V).

In the layers palette, I pulled down the blend mode submenu (where you see the word 'normal') until I found 'multiply'. When this was selected, miraculously the white sky disappeared and all I was left with was what you see here.

In my Creative Techniques in Photoshop online course here at, I discuss how to do techniques like this, and as part of the critique process I talk about technical know-how as well as the artistry that goes into making images with impact.

Article by Jim Zuckerman. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at