Category Archives: Software

MacPhun Aurora HDR Pro!

MacPhun is offering Aurora HDR Pro with bonus features!

HDR can be extremely challenging for a number of reasons. Let’s look at this image I recently developed. The challenge was that the 3 bracketed images include various items in motion. For example, in the middle exposure (top left), the woman was walking away from the stopped train. But in the darker exposure (top right), there is altogether a different women in that same position. In the lightest exposure (bottom image), she is even more blurred. With other HDR programs, I have struggled with blending images with movement, even when I have selected the primary/base image. Additionally, I wanted to get the most dynamic range possible without the image looking “hdr”.

Aurora HDR Pro successfully blended the 3 images, while retaining the features from the base image I identified and the integrity of a “non-hdr” image, creating exactly the final image I was going for!

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Developed from these images:

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Key Features include: 

  • Aurora HDR Pro + Bonuses for only $89!
  • Reflect Studio App: Add stunning reflections to your images
  • Watermark Sense App: Batch Watermark images with text and/or logos
  • Preset Pack: 18 Bonus Pro Presets
  • 25 Bonus Textures
  • 4 Sets of Professional Exposure Brackets
  • Over $100 in Savings

To purchase Aurora HDR, click the link below!

Aurora HDR + Bonuses

Dust Spots!

Dust spots and artifacts are my pet peeve… cannot stand them because they are so easy to fix. However, they can be hard to find! They are definitely the bane of any landscape photographer’s existence, but they can show up in any image and they never show up until you have published or printed an image! It is like magic. As soon as your friends, family, and world can see the image, the dust spots/artifacts miraculously appears and of course, you are at best, the second person to see it. :-/

Even those folks with great eyesight miss them. But here is where we can look to technology for a solution. Lightroom Develop and Photoshop Camera Raw both have dust spot removal tools. But for real success, you have to “visualize spots” to get the most of these tools. Let’s take a look at how this one little checkbox can make a world of difference.

Take this image… unprocessed, right out of the camera. We can see some spots (red arrows) right off the bat. So those can be easily fixed. But the real question will be…. have we missed any? So at a glance, we would like to say we haven’t, but how can we be sure?

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As I mentioned, the best tools for the identification of dust spots/artifacts that I have found are the spot removal tools in Lightroom Develop (the icon shown to the right) ,Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.20.38 PMand in Photoshop Camera Raw (icon shown to the right).  Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 11.48.12 AMAs these programs are the same, these spot removal tools are also the same. The only difference is the icon used to access them.

Now the tools themselves are great and do an amazing job (most of the time) of identifying the pixels from which to clone the dust spot. But the true beauty of these tools is their ability to identify spots and artifacts in images that we simply cannot see with the naked eye.

Here is how this works. Take the image noted above, we identified 5 dust spots/artifacts that need correction. Let’s see what the spot removal tool finds. To make this a bit easier, I have drawn arrows to re-identify the spots we found in the above image and then circled the additional dust spots/artifacts identified by the software. Take a minute to look back at the color image. Those spots in the sky do not stand out and could easily be missed if it wasn’t for the spot removal tool. So how do we get this masked image, show below? In both Lightroom Develop and Photoshop Camera Raw spot removal tools, there is a checkbox that says “visualize spots”.

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In Lightroom, the Visualize Spots can be found to the bottom left of the center panel: Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.03.43 PM.

In Photoshop, the Visualize Spots can be found at the bottom of the right hand panel: Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 12.03.26 PM

To emphasize the spots, check the box and then drag the slider bar to the right. This tool will even identify spots in the middle of clouds! In fact, it will identify spots anywhere in an image. Dust spots stand right out, as they have distinct round edges. Notice the dust spots in the sky above, they are hollow round spots and very noticeable. Now you can use the cloning feature (in both programs) to clone out the dust spots.

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In a few minutes, hundreds (which can happen) of dust spots/artifacts can be removed!

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Now, you can finish processing the image! I suggest removing dust spots first, so that whatever processing you do to the image doesn’t exaggerate or further emphasize spots that need to be removed. It is simply easier to fix the spots before their edges are more pronounced with contrast or clarity.

For this image, here is the final result:

_DSF1820-Edit

 

Happy Holidays and Creative New Year!!

Third Party Printing

_DSC2194-Edit

If you are like me, you don’t have a photo quality printer at home, so you use a third party printer, such as Costco. Our particular Costco does a great job, but tends to print a full stop darker than what I want in my print result. So this tip is how to deal with this, without having to alter your base image.

The features discussed here can also be used to brighten up or add contrast to your images when printing at home as well. But the likeliness is, if you are printing from Lightroom, you already knew this.

For folks like me, who print outside of their home, we normally Export a .jpg to a file, then upload the .jpg via an online portal to our printer, then pick up the images when they are ready. This method works just fine, but there is no way (that I have found) to imbed a development rule in the Export presets.

So how do we get around this… use the Print module in Lightroom!

The Print module can be used to print to your home printer or to a .jpg. So for those of us who use a third party printer, we just need to modify the settings in the Print module to print to file and create a preset for the settings that work best with our third party printer and each time we want to print and image, we will be set.

Click here for a video that will take you through the set up instructions.

While you are there, remember to subscribe to RRPT videos and check out the over 2 dozen videos already available in our library!

Mt. Storm Time Lapse

The other day, I was asked to describe how I created this image:

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I decided it would be easier to write a blog and create a video demonstrating the techniques, than to layout out an answer in a Facebook reply. So let’s get started.

The Set Up

This image was created from 37 different images, created using the time lapse feature in my Fuji XT1. If you do not have time lapse built into your camera, you can purchase a wired or wireless remote with time lapse capability for most camera bodies. The time lapse was set to continue indefinitely, with a 1 second interval between images.  The camera was set to Aperture mode, with the Shutter speed determined by the camera. A sturdy tripod is a must. I also shot RAW and JPG files.

As you can tell by reviewing the image, that the image was created midday and yet, cloud movement is clearly visible. I was able to achieve this effect by using a Singh Ray 15-stop Mor Slo filter. (To receive a 10% discount, please use our discount code: ROADRUNNER10). The 15-stop Mor Slo is a great filter that will allow the photographer to create long exposures in the middle of day. The Singh Ray filters are so well made that they do not add color cast or distortion to the images. (Tip: buy 77mm filters and then a set of step-up rings, this way, one filter can be used on all your lenses).

Once the camera was in place, I triggered the shutter and waited. One thing to consider, when shooting time lapse images, consider bringing a second camera body along, as the wait can be quite dull with nothing to do. This may explain why I shot 37 images and not 100.

Post-Processing

As noted above, I shot both RAW and JPG files. I did this so that should I chose to process a single image, I would have the RAW file and for the time lapse image I could use the JPG files, which are smaller and easier to manage when blending so many layers. I organize my files using Lightroom and process my images in Photoshop. So after my trip, I imported my images into my Lightroom catalog (for a video on how to do this, click here). I selected the images that I intended to combine (a total of 37 images) and then opened the images, as Layers in Photoshop. From Lightroom, this is a simple Right click on the selected image thumbnails, Edit in, scroll to the bottom of the list and choose As Layers in Photoshop.

It takes Photoshop a few minutes to open and add each layer to a single tab, once it is complete, you can start changing the Blending Modes for each layer. At this point, take a moment to check the file size. In this case, my file size was just under 3GB. This is a huge file and I only used the JPGs! Now, I can start changing the Blending Mode for each individual layer (except the bottom layer) to Lighten. This allows the lighter pixels to come through from the layer below. As each of the 36 layers are changed, you will see staccato effect in the clouds start to appear.

Once all of the Blending Modes are adjusted, you have to decide if you are ready to flatten the image and start processing. I suggest that first you create a “stamp” of the image. Essentially, a “stamp” is a flattened version, that can be created as a separate layer (while maintaining all of the original layers below it) or by having all of the original layers merged together. I suggest that you use the “separate layer” method, so that you can check the result. You can always decide after to remove the original individual layers to reduce the overall file size. To create the separate layer, select all of the individual layers (all 37 in this case), and then right click, and while holding the ALT/Option key, choose Merge Visible. Photoshop will do some work and create a Layer 1, that sits at the top of the Layer Panel. If the result is what you were expecting, then you can select all of the original layers again and delete. This will bring the overall file size down to something manageable and pick up the operating speed of Photoshop, as you start to process the image.

At this point, how you process your image is up to you. I darkened the sky, enhanced the power plant, and darkened the foreground with Camera Raw. I then desaturated and slightly toned the image. I did some selective dodging and burning to further enhance the clouds and smoke. Lastly, I added a vignette.

To see a video on how I blended and processed my 37 images, click here.

For additional tutorials on how to post-process images, click here.

Texture Tutorial!

Today’s blog is a tutorial on the use of textures. Often we see texture added to images of flowers or landscapes with bland skies. Although these types of images are awesome for texture use, for this tutorial, I will demonstrate how a texture can also add character to portraits. I will be using an image I took for a newly engaged couple.

In this tutorial I will also be featuring Joel Olives textures. Joel creates his beautiful textures, overlays, and bokeh overlays monthly. I joined Joel’s Texture Club in February and over the past 7 months, I have received hundreds of incredible textures. Joel also shares his methods and provides a blending action on his site as well. If you are interested in Joel’s textures, follow the link and use DENISE20, to receive a 20% discount on your purchase!

joelolives.com

Here is a sampling!

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Because they are high resolution, they can be used to enhance any image without worrying about pixilation or degradation.

At first blush, the thought of incorporating textures may be overwhelming, particularly with so many options. But actually, it is pretty easy and once you get the hang of it, it can be done in minutes. The tutorial will seem long, but that is because it includes loads of images (so you know where to look for things), as well as multiple techniques on how to achieve different types of blending effects. In the end, this tutorial will provide you with a step by step process to get your creative juices flowing.

So let’s get to it!

First, start by opening your image and making any adjustments you may feel are necessary (brightness, contrast, saturation, etc). For the image I selected, I needed to make sure the doorframe was straight and I corrected any lights/darks, as well as enhanced her beautiful eyes. Now that my image is ready, its time to add a texture.

 

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There are a number of ways to add a texture to an image. I will show you the two ways I use most often.

1) File/Place/Select File/Place
This technique will bring the image in as a new layer and already have the transform feature activated so you can scale it to fit the background layer. When scaling the texture layer, you may decide to scale one for one (to fit exactly on the background) or you may decide that you want it to be bigger than the background. This may be the case, when you have selected a texture you really like, but for a particular image, the edges are too dark.

2) Open the texture as its own image, the select the move tool (V).
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In the texture layer, left click on the texture image and drag to the image you are working on. Before unclicking, hold the shift key. This will drop the layer in a new layer and scale it to the background directly. Should you wish to change the scaling, as noted in #1, just choose Edit/Free Transform ( T or Ctrl T – PC). This will allow you to scale the layer (texture) to your liking.

For this image, I selected jo-tc-aug-2013-13 from Joel Olives August 2013 Textures.

To get the image in to my working file, I chose option #1 from above.

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For me, the texture opens in to Camera Raw. This gives allows me to make changes to the texture prior to inserting it in to my working file. For this texture, I added a little Clarity and Vibrance, then I hit ok.

As you can see, the texture definitely needs some scaling! The great thing about Joel Olive textures is that they are high resolution, so scaling this texture to fit my image will not degrade the texture (and therefore, will not degrade my image) at all.

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To rotate just the texture layer, select Edit/Transform/Rotate 90°CW.

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Next drag your corners out until the meet the edge of your background images. The texture will lock in. If you wish, you can also drag the end texture layer out further. For this particular image and this texture, I like the dark edges with the leaf pattern, so I am sticking with a one to one ratio.

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There are a couple of ways to blend in a texture.
1) Manipulate the Opacity slider
2) Use Blending Mode

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 7.18.04 PMHere is the result using #1 (Opacity slider) – This result is not very pleasing and to truly see your background image the opacity of the texture would have to be so low, as to not even feel like a texture.

To make this technique work, you would need to add a Layer Mask and then mask the texture out of areas, such as her face and arms. Using a Layer Mask for this can be difficult and requires multiple brushes, at various opacities, often leaving a “hard” edge. Using the Blending modes and the techniques discussed below will give a more subtle and even feel to the texture.

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Here is the result using #2 (Blending layers) – This result is miles ahead of just using the Opacity slider. You can use a number of Blending modes to achieve the result you are seeking (Overlay, Soft Light, Screen for a lightened effect, even Multiply for a dark edgy feeling).

 

 

 

For this tutorial, I chose Soft Light.

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Next you can soften the effect of the texture by changing the opacity. I changed the texture layers opacity from 100% to 75%. As you can see, the background image is more prominent, but I have lost those beautiful eyes and her skin looks dirty and uneven from the texture. We are going to fix that next!

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Once the texture is in place, you can manipulate it using Layer Adjustments.

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You can use any adjustment from the Layer Adjustments menu (Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Levels, Curves, etc). These adjustments are personal preference and based on the image to which the texture is being added.

For this image, I chose to make a Levels adjustment, to slightly darken the texture layer.

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In order to have my Layer Adjustment only impact the texture layer, I must associate the adjustment to the texture directly, as indicated by the downward-pointing arrow on the adjustment layer. To link layers (this technique links any layers/adjustments) hold the Alt or Option (PC) and however over the layer you want to link (in this case, the Level Adjustment). You will see a downward-pointing arrow appear, left click your mouse and the adjustment will be attached. To remove, just repeat these steps.

 

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If you do not link your adjustment to the texture, the adjustment will after both the texture and any layers beneath. This might be what you want, but if not, the linking technique will be your solution.

At this point, there is a decision to make.

Do you want the subject matter (in this case the face, eyes, and skin) to retain the some texture or no texture at all. Depending on your preference and the image to which you are adding a texture, there is different method for each.

First we will see the technique that retains some texture…

Start by hiding the adjustment layer (click on the eye), then select the texture layer and change the blending back to Normal and increase the opacity back to 100% (all temporary).

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Now, choose the Color Picker tool.

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With the color picker, left click on the texture, looking for a medium tone.

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This color/tone will become the Foreground color.

 

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Once you have made this selection, change the texture Blending mode back to Soft Light, the opacity back to 75% and click the eye on the adjustment layer.

Select the Brush tool (B). Use a soft edged brush and set the Brush opacity to an opacity that is pleasing. For this image, I chose 70%.

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Left click on the texture and then with the brush tool, paint over the areas of the texture that you want the background image to be more prominent (show through).

Since we “placed” the texture, when you go to paint, you will get the following message.

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Just select OK and then begin painting.

 

 

 

 

 

For this tutorial, I have “lessened” not removed the texture from her face, eyes, hair, and left arm. To show the difference, I have not removed the texture from her right hand. However, were I to “finish” this image with the option, I would have likely lessened the texture in her right arm as well. You can still see some texture on her fact and left arm, however it is not as intense.

 

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Next lets look at the technique to remove the texture from her altogether, while leaving the underlying tone of the texture behind.

For this technique, you will need to create a New Photoshop file. You will only use this temporarily, so there is no need to Save it.

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After you hit OK, you will get a White background layer. First thing we need to do is Fill it with color (any color). To do this, select Edit/Fill and under Contents Use: choose Color. The color picker tool will come up, pick a color and choose OK. Then choose OK to fill.

 

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Next choose the Healing Brush Tool.

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Now, holding the ALT or Option (PC) key down, click anywhere on the color image. Your brush will change to the sampling tool.

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This “loads” the Healing Brush.

 

Once you have completed this step, return to your working image. Make sure the Healing Brush is still selected and click on the texture layer.

Start brushing out the texture (even though the brush is a color). It will look like you are coloring on your image, but you are not. I promise, just keeping brushing, stopping every so often (for larger images) to let the Healing Brush process. Remember, you are not painting with this brush.

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Here is a close up of the process. Here I am about halfway done. You can see that her skin tone and his are the same, but the texture is completely gone. You may see that the Healing Brush leaves some color… no fear, just brush over the area again and it will disappear.

 

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Now for the final image (I am sticking with the “no texture” option).

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Remember, every choice I made in this tutorial, was just that a choice. There are many ways to incorporate textures in to your images… let your imagination guide you. 🙂

Valentine’s Day Gift from MacPhun!

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Save 25% on Tonality and Snapselect, plus be entered for a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

These great savings are available from now until February 16, 2015.

_XT17391-EditTonaScreen Shot 2015-02-11 at 3.50.29 PMlity: Create fascinating black and white images. Inspiring presets, film emulation, layers & innovative features ensure the most romantic pictures you ever made!

This image was converted to B&W using Tonality! The software is amazing and with the layer technology embedded, the amount control you have over the end result is unparalleled.

 

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Snapselect: Sort and organize your pictures quick and easily. Easily find your best images and get rid of duplicates. Save disc space & have more time to do what you love!

 

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Exclusions: Raffle of ten $15 Amazon Gift Cards: Everybody who purchases from Macphun Software USA Valentine’s Special is automatically entered and has a chance to win. You must be a resident of North America in order to receive an Amazon Gift Card.

New eBook demystifying Lightroom 5!

Denise just completed her first eBook – Lightroom 5!  The book demystifies Lightroom, from setting up preference for optimal functionality to importing images and organizing your workflow to developing images to their full potential to creating watermarks and exporting images to share.

This eBook is 65 packed pages of information on how to best use Lightroom in your workflow. With lots of step by step instructions and illustrative images to guide you!

http://roadrunnerphotographytours.com/educational/e-books-2

The book is priced at a very affordable $5.99 and payments are handled thru PayPal.

If you have any problems downloading the book please send me an email

don@roadrunnerphotographytours.com

Thanks,

Denise and Don…

Processing Infrared Images

Today I want to share one of the methods to transform an infrared image from a RAW file to various stages of a final image. The actual final image chosen is about preference and totally up to the photographer.

That is the reason I will show each stage of the process, as each result could have been my final image. Enjoy!

RAW image

I converted my camera to infrared through Lifepixel. The provide many conversion options, so you are likely to find one that suits your preferences. I chose Super Color, which provides the most flexibility and can easily achieve a blue sky.

 

Some cameras allow you to set a custom white balance. That is the case with my camera, so this is the “out of camera” result. For cameras which do not allow custom white balance settings, the image will start as fuchsia; which can still be processed to the final image you will see at the end of the blog.

The next step is to swap the RED and BLUE channels. To do this, open the “channel mixer” in Photoshop. Choose the RED channel from the drop down menu. You will see that the RED channel is set to 100% for RED and zero for GREEN and BLUE. Put a zero for the RED channel and 100% for the BLUE channel. Next select the BLUE channel from the drop down menu. You will see that the BLUE channel is set to 100% for BLUE and zero for GREEN and RED. Put a zero for the BLUE channel and 100% for the RED channel. Hit enter and you should see the following:

 

Since I have the Super Color conversion, my sky will go from “orange” to blue and the colors that represent “green” foliage turn a varying degrees of yellow.  This is image can be considered final and is often referred to as “false color.”

If you are working your way to Black and White infrared, you can continue to process the image. For me, the next step is to remove the Yellow cast. To do this, first flatten your image and then select Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Choose Yellow from the drop down menu. Then select the dropper+ icon and click on an area of the image that is yellow. I try to click on an area of deep yellow. Now, drag the saturation slide all the way to the left and you will see the yellow foliage turn grey/white. You may need to select additional areas depending on whether the white balance was accurate. If your white balance is off, you may find the “green” foliage is more of a rusty color, in which case you may need to desaturate red and yellow. Here was my resulting image:

 

Again, this image can be considered finished. You may get to this stage and want to add some contrast and “glow” to deepen the image. In this case, because I was moving towards black and white infrared, I did not process the image further at this point. I wanted to complete my transformation, then adjust contract and “glow.”

There are a number of ways to get to black and white infrared:

  1. Create a black and white adjustment layer in Photoshop.
  2. Create another Hue and Saturation layer and desaturate with RGB selected (a step that could have been done above).
  3. Use Macphun Tonality Pro (discount code: ROADRUNNER), TopazLabs B&W Effects (discount code: roadrunner), or OnOne Perfect B&W (contact us here for the discount code).
  4. Other software.

 

 

I also added a “glow” effect, typically associated with infrared images. I did this through an action I created. However, you could also achieve “glow” with various Photoshop plugins.

For those folks new to Infrared imagery, now is the time to convert that old camera body sitting on a shelf. If you wait until spring, any of the conversion companies will be busy and waits can be long, so act now! When spring returns and the leaves pop out all great and lush, you will be ready!

To see a demonstration of these techniques, click here for our video tutorial.

How Did I get Here?

I was asked to share the original images that make up this composite:

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So here are the 9 original files, untouched, raw files. You can see that the images were taken in different times of day and lighting situations, from different perspectives, with different tones. The challenge to composite images is making the final image seem like a single shot, as impossible as it might seem to create.

 

I have by no means perfected this art form, but am definitely working on it. It takes, like all things you want to do well, lots of practice and patience. For those interested in learning the techniques that can be used for compositing and other adjustments, I am leading two workshops: one is on  Layers and Masks in Photoshop and the other is on Textures and Blending techniques. Click the titles to learn more.

 

Masks, Layers, Blending Images…

Do you have thousands of images hidden away on multiple external hard drives? Have you edited and shared the ones you loved the most? What about the others? What are all those little pixels doing, besides taking up space?

Well, here is an idea… use pieces and parts of those images to make an entirely unique image! That’s right… compositing images together to create something uniquely you.

This image was created using images from Iceland, Death Valley, Oregon, and DC. There are 10 unique images in this composites… well some part of 10 unique images. In each and every case, I had a friend standing right near me, shooting the same scene. But this image, this composite is uniquely my vision. Sure I shared images from each of those trips, but this work is a creation of my imagination and there will never be another like it, even if I tried to do it again, it would be different (different settings and adjustment layers, different mood).

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This image is a combination of 9 images; from Seattle, to the Palouse, WV, Iceland, and the Shenandoah. Because each image was its own full size raw file, the level of detail in each component of the composite is clear and can be explored for its detail. For example, the lady driving the car; dive in and check out the schmirk on her face!

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The possibilities are endless. Also, the pixels hidden away on those drives now have a totally new purpose!

Compositing takes practice and patience. In and of itself, it is actually not that difficult to do once you learn the techniques to separate parts and pieces of images and how to blend them together. You have to have Photoshop (Elements or higher) to composite, because you need to be able to use layers and masks.

If you are intrigued by the idea of compositing images or blending textures with your images, then you might want to join me for a couple of workshops. You can register for these workshops, and my Introduction to Lightroom workshop on the Road Runner Photoshop Tours Meetup.

Learn to use Photoshop layers and masks. There are so many ways to select and mask, each one has its upside and downside… learn how to decide which is best for your needs in my Introduction to Photoshop – Layers, Masks, and More. This workshop will be held on Saturday, Feb 28, 2015.

Learn to blend textures, as well as images (compositing). This workshop will focus on blending techniques. Workshop on Textures and Blending Techniques. This workshop will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015.

The combination of the Photoshop workshop and the Texture/Blending workshop, will give you all the skills you need to take your art to the next level of creativity.