Tag Archives: Creativity

Changing the Mood of an Image

Decided to play a bit with Photoshop this morning. I enjoy going back to old images, long forgotten, processed or not processed, and seeing how I would process them today, as my skills improve. As always, photography and image processing is highly subjective, so it is possible that others will not necessary think these images are “improved.” However, I am a strong believer in practice makes perfect, so here my take on an image from years.

As originally processed.

First step is to beef up the sky. There were great clouds but in the first processing attempt, I did not bring the detail out. So this time, I wanted to emphasize the incoming storm.

Second step… see how the image feels in black and white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now I had two versions, each with their own appeal, but I still had not achieve what I wanted. Since I liked the pier in the color image and the clouds in the black and white, I decided to see how these features worked together.

Final image


For me, it is not that any one of these images is “better” than the next, but rather, any one of these images is more or less pleasing depending on my mood and the message I wish to convey when sharing. There are times that I really like the use of selective color and for folks learning new image processing skills, testing out the techniques for blending color and black and white has its place in the process of growing as an artist.

As you develop your skills in image processing, try everything, practice everything, and then learn how and when to incorporate the techniques you like the most into your work. These images were enhanced using camera raw and blended using layers and masks. For some video tutorials on these techniques, click here for our YouTube channel.

Happy Shooting!

 

Using Masks in Photoshop

Masking in Photoshop

In the last blog I discussed blending images to get a better final result, specifically replacing a perfectly clear blue sky with one that had more character (clouds).

There are many ways to create selections in Photoshop, including the Color Selection tool, the Magic Wand tool, the Pen tool, the Lasso Tool, as well as the use of plugins, such as TopazLabs ReMask. Depending on the image you are working on, any one of these tools can be helpful. In this blog, I am going to layout the steps for masking using the Color Selection tool in Photoshop.

Step 1:

Select your base image. In this case, I selected an image from the Montgomery County Fair, of the swing. As you can see, there is NO sky here and I am getting aberration (vignetting) from my lens. To get this image ready, I processed the image using an HDR technique, to pop the beautiful undercarriage of the ride and the people in the seats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:

After collapsing my layers, I duplicated my background layer, then I created my mask selection by through Select, Color Range, and used the dropper to pick up the areas of the sky. In this case, I picked the sky near the top and the bottom of the image, so that I got both “blues”. use the dropper to choose the “colors” to pick up. Then hit OK. This will give you the marching ants.

You can see in the image below this “marching ants,” indicated my selection. It doesn’t matter in this case that the corners are not in my selection. I will be able to fix that later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then click the Mask tool button shown below. This will create a mask. You must remember to duplicate the background image before selecting your color range.

 

 

 

Result, you can see our duplicate layer with a mask next to it in the layer panel on the right hand side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3:

Next select the appropriate sky image. Remember when making this decision, angle of the sky is important. For incorporation into this particular base, I would not select a sky taken on the horizon, it would simply be too far away. Also, consider the color (hue and saturation) of the sky you are going to use. Although this can be manipulated in processing, you can save yourself time by selection something similar. Lastly, you need to consider “light”… say from the time of day perspective. I could not use a night sky here, because there is too much light on the faces of the people on the ride and direction of light should be considered as well. I chose the sky image below.

 

I did do a bit of processing on this image. Deepened the blues in the sky and lightened the clouds, through Brightness and Contrast adjustment in Photoshop.

 

 

 

 

Step 4:

Duplicate the mask, so that it is also on the sky layer. To do this, hold down the option (or alt) click, click and hold the mask you want to duplicate and drag it up to the sky layer, and unclick. This will copy the mask you created and place it on to the sky image, allowing the background layer (base layer) to show through.   As you can see in the image below the vignetting in the corners is back and the masking is quite complete on the top left, but never fear… we will fix that next!

 

You can feather your mask at this point, but for this image, feathering would have created a small blue line around the ride, which would not have allowed the sky to look natural. Therefore, I left the feather control at zero.

 

 

 

 

Step 5:

To clean up the mask, you need to show the mask on the screen, instead of the image. To do this hold down the option (or alt) key and click the mask (on the sky layer). This will bring the mask on to your Photoshop workspace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depending on how clean your Select, Color Range was, you will have more or less black or grey in the sky. In my case, I could have clicked the corners during the range selection and that would have made this cleaner. In either case, we can fix it, but selecting the Brush tool and making sure white is selected as our “color” to paint. Then start painting the unwanted blacks and grays white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that we have cleaned up all the excess black (on the area that is supposed to be white) and cleaned up the excess white (on the area that is supposed to be black), we are ready to reveal our final image!

Again, holding the option (or alt) key, click on the layer mask (on the sky later). This will return to image to your workspace and presto chango … we have an image with some character in the background now!

 

 

 

Remember, this technique can be used for all sorts of images. Maybe head shots taken against a boring white background and you want to add color or textures.  Adding a moon to an otherwise featureless night sky. The possibilities are limitless.

 

 

 

To see a video tutorial on masking, click here for our videos on YouTube.

Challenge Yourself

Many of us are weekend shooters. Some of us may not even leave our yards or neighborhoods. Others may venture into Washington DC or to one of the many parks throughout our region. As a result, we are often “shooting” the same or similar subject matter from one weekend to the next. And, frankly, there is nothing wrong with this, because each new day carries with it new light, new weather challenges and new results. The question though, is do our images feel new to us.

For me, as badly as I may want to go out and spend the day with my camera, I often find that I have already dismissed the day’s results, knowing that I will be seeing the same views, the same monuments, or the same type of flowers or falls. To overcome the urge to stay in and nap in front of the TV, I try to come up with ways to challenge myself!

I change how I shoot or how I post-process my images. Sometimes I restrict myself to a single lens, such as a wide-angle lens (16-35mm) or to a Lensbaby optic. Sometimes I restrict my subject matter to only people, buildings, or gardens. Sometimes I spend time creating through the use of software; Photoshop CC, Topaz Labs, or Macphun Software. In all cases, I try to approach the day’s shoot with a new focus and viewpoint to challenge myself to see and think differently.

You may not be familiar with Lensbaby optics. Lensbaby has created a suite of optic that are creative effects lenses that adds varying levels of blur and distortion to an image. The amount of blur or distortion is in the hands of the artist and controlled through both the optics and aperture rings chosen. When you first pick up a Lensbaby, you may think that it is best suited for macro flower photography, however, Lensbaby lends itself to every type of subject matter, from not only flowers, but objects, buildings and structures, to people. The results are only as limited as your imagination.  Challenge yourself to see our world through a new lens!

Everyday subjects found throughout our region transformed by Lensbaby. These images were taken with the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Double Glass Optic. Aperture rings and shutter speed noted below.   For more information on Lensbaby, equipment, and examples of the types of images that can be created with their optics, see www.lensbaby.com.  If you are interested in purchasing a Lensbaby kit, contact us for our discount code!!

The images below were not only taken with a Lensbaby, but also include various processing techniques, such as the use of selective color, black and white photography, and HDR. Using all the tools available will give your images unique perspective!

  • f/4 aperture ring, 1/125 sec

    • f/4 aperture ring, 1/20 sec

  • f/4 aperture ring, 1/1250 sec

  • f/4 aperture ring, 1/100 sec

Black Friday Sales, Discounts, Video Tutorials and More!

RRPT would like to announce the launch of a couple of new pages on our website!

Software/Gear

In time for Black Friday sales, we are launching our Software/Gear page. This page contains links to the software and gear companies that we find to be invaluable to our creative processes, from hardware that enhances our ability to create images in camera, to software and textures that enhance our images during post-process. Its all here. Many of these fine companies are offering Black Friday deals. If you are not able to take advantage of these sales, don’t fear, as RRPT has established affiliate relationships with a number of them, so that we can bring our participants and friends discounts all year long.

So check out RRPT’s Software/Gear page for a little early holiday shopping!!

 

Tutorials/Workshops

RRPT would also like to announce a new Tutorials/Workshop page. This page features both video tutorials and personalized photo processing workshops! Get ready to take your photography to the next level by learning the tricks and tips on Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop, Photomatix, and other software tools! As we are building our library of video tutorials, check back regularly for new launches. We are currently featuring videos on Importing Images into Lightroom (great for beginners and folks new to the Lightroom platform) and Merging Images in Photoshop HDR pro and editing in Adobe Camera Raw (great for all levels of photographers, who bracket images, but are new to the HDR process).

For photographers who perform hand-on training or have particular images they wish to develop, the Personalized Photo Processing Workshops, may be the way to go. If you are local, we will set up a time to get together and work on the skill areas you specifically want to improve, on your images, so that you can learn by doing! If you are out of this area, but have some questions or areas of photo processing on which you need help, use our contact page and let us know. We will work on developing video tutorials to meet your need!

Click here to learn more about our Tutorials/Workshops page.

 

Seeing Differently

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Like many other photographers I enjoy visiting favorite locations multiple times.  But sometimes when you look around all you see are the same things you have seen and photographed before.  When that happens I find the best thing to do is grab a lens that I might not frequently use and see what happens.

In the case of the picture above, I used a 10.5mm fisheye and used a small window opening to frame the staircase.  Considering that I have shot this building many times, this change allowed me to see something new.