I am using Photoshop CS5 and am creating a photo montage poster with about 30 images on it. The photos are not stellar and I need to change levels, exposure, saturation etc to each image. I was creating groups from layers for each image then dropping it onto the montage file, but I see that filters effect every layer below. I have a gradient layer as my background and I don't want it affected nor do I want every layer below affected. I created smart layers from each image, that works, but it really slows the system down. What is the smartest and most efficient way to handle this?
use the clipping mask
so you make the adjustment layer, then click layer > create clipping mask
this essentially ties that adjustment to the layer below
That's it! Wow, thanks so much for your prompt response.