So I tried to illustrate all of those things in this project. The hardest part was figuring out how to use the masks. At first I just used the masks on the original photo of Erin and the leaf to select them and cut them from their background in order to place them on the sky background. I also altered the color of Erin slightly by using the original mask.
Then, once all the photos were combined, but on different layers, I figured out how to apply a different gradient mask to each layer so that the objects would fade from solid to slightly transparent almost as if part of the image were being "blown away".
Then, later, I added the smaller leaves using the masks and the leaf-shaped paint brush tool. I was then able to make that selection much brighter so that is would stand out against the background. The leaves look as though they are blowing away in wind off into the distance behind Erin, which I thought helped communicate the mood a little bit more and helped give the overall image a little bit of depth.