How I made my ‘Lights’ header in Photoshop

After Christmas I went to visit my friend at his place for pre pub drinks. While I was waiting for him to get ready I took some photos of his beautiful Christmas tree with my mobile’s camera. Its fake and it has fibre optic lights which are really pretty. I knew the pictures would come in handy someday.
lights

I used masks to hide parts of the photos.
lm

Here is an example of the process. I picked a soft brush and selected BLACK. I painted over the part that I wanted to be hidden. It looks like it has been erased but it hasn’t, it’s just hidden.
2373
2373 layer

Black to ‘erase’ and white to make it ‘reappear’.

Black makes that part transparent so you can see through to the layer below. White will restore the layer back again.

It’s a bit hard to explain until you try it and see for yourself.

Close up of all the layers. I needed only two layer masks.
mask7

Here is the finished header.
lights3-for-web7

Why use a layer mask? Why not just use the eraser tool?
The main advantage I can see is that a layer mask effectively gives you the chance to hide and uncover indefinitely. You will not lose any of your original photo. You can restore your photo back to its original form whenever you want to. If you ‘take too much away’ you can just ‘put it back’ again.

I watched this video to learn about masks. If you want to learn more about masks I would recommend you watch it.Photoshop Using Gradients with Layer Masks
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxC45bv6YJY