By combining her own photo of the Chicago skyline with Adobe Stock stars and clouds, Elis Swopes creates this new vision.

How Swopes Creates Unique Perspectives for Instagram

By Terri Stone

Elise Swopes is known for capturing and editing photographic compositions using only her phone. We recently asked this Chicago-based creative to make something for us that expresses women’s perspective. “I began racking my brain for ideas of what this could mean for me,” she says. “There’s so many things I could pick from; like how I see the world right now, how powerful I think women are.”

She chose one of her own images—a photo of her city’s skyline—and browsed the Adobe Stock database for material to add to the composition. She found plenty, but she was still unsure of a central focus. “Then it dawned on me,” Swopes says: that uncertainty was in itself women’s perspective. She explains: “The beauty that lies in being indecisive but having the world at our palms. The mystery and magic in what’s already written. This is my women’s perspective.”

Click here or on the image at left to watch Swopes create her photo collage (no sound).


Here are the steps you’ll see in the video:

  1. Open Photoshop Mix.
  2. Click the + button to start a new project.
  3. Select Image.
  4. Navigate to CC Library, where Swopes had already downloaded Adobe Stock photos.
  5. Resize the cloud photo to a 4:5 aspect ratio for Instagram.
  6. Make a new layer; choose a fill color that's close to the blue sky in the clouds photo.
  7. On the clouds layer, use the Cut Out tool's Basic and Refine options to mask out the blue sky.
  8. Add a second Image by clicking the Adobe Stock option, searching on the phrase "stars background," and selecting a favorite.
  9. In Looks, choose Portrait, then apply a Screen Blend Mode.
  10. Use the Cut Out tool to mask the stars.
  11. Add an original image from the phone's Camera Roll.
  12. Straighten the skyline with the Upright tool.
  13. Apply the Multiply Blend Mode to the skyline.
  14. To make a gradient effect in the sky, add a dark color layer, Cut Out the color from the bottom two-thirds, and play around with layer order, size, position, and opacity.
  15. Save the composition to Camera Roll or CC Library.
  16. Open Lightroom CC and the composition.
  17. Scroll through the Presets to pick a filter and grain to bring the image together.
  18. Bring down the blue to a teal color.
  19. Save Image to Camera Roll or post directly to Instagram from Lightroom CC.

For Photoshop Mix basics, check out this tutorial, and here’s a good introduction to Lightroom for mobile. And stay tuned to Create—more how-tos like this one are coming soon.

March 26, 2018