Tag Archives: post processing

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.

Creating Custom Borders!

Create Custom Borders

One of my favorite things about processing iPhone images (on my phone) is that I can easily add “frames” to images, through a variety of photo processing apps, such Snapseed or Camera+. I have often thought that it would be cool to be able to something similar with images taken with my big-kid camera… and here is how you do it!

In just a few steps, you can create a custom border for any image, in any color or width you desire.

Here we go…

Step 1

Select your image. Process it to get what you consider a final result. In this case, I have chosen a panoramic image of the Great Smokey Mountains at sunset. I have collapsed my image, so it is “Background.”

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2

Select the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) or choose from the toolbar. Click and drag diagonally, from the top left of the image, to the bottom right corner of the image, to create an inside margin area, sized to your preference.

 

I have chosen about ¾ inch.

Next with your selection active (on your Background layer), chose Refine Edge, in the Options Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pops up the Refine Edge menu table.

Choose On White from the View Mode dropdown. Then in Edge Detection select Smart Radius and bump the slider to approximately 100% or a size that is pleasing. In Adjust Edge, play with the sliders for Smooth, Feather, Contrast, and Shift Edge, until you find a result that works best with the image. In the Output area, select Layer Mask. Hit ok.

 

 

This will create a mask around your image that “erases” the pixels on the outside of the margin you selected, while not harming your underlying image. The layer name changes from Background to Layer 0 automatically.

 

Step 3

 

Create the frame or matte layer. This can be any color you wish. I generally start with white and then reopen the color pallet and experiment. To create this layer, create a New Adjustment Layer (half black/half white circle icon).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select Solid Color, and chose white or whatever color you prefer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click OK.

Now you have created a Color Fill Layer. Drag the Color Fill Layer, so that it is below Layer 0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, you can still manipulate the layer mask, by selecting the mask on Layer 0 and continuing to manipulate its density and feathering the its Properties Menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to save your image!

 

 

 

 

The coolest thing about this technique is that it will create a unique frame for each image to which it is applied, as it is creating the edge based on the contrast and color it identifies when refining the edge. So the possibilities are endless.

For a demonstration of this technique, click here for our video tutorial.

 

Fading an Image – Gradient Masks

Below I will describe the few steps needed to create both color fade and fade to solid color effects in Photoshop.

Let’s start with the color fade:

Step 1:

Open your image. In this example, I have an image of wisteria flowers. I have processed this image to my liking, so I consider it “done” and a good starting point for my color fade effect. So, your first step is to process your original image to achieve your overall “color” result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:

Create a New Adjustment Layer by clicking the half black/half white icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. From the pop-up menu, select Black and White. Proceed to adjust the sliders to create an image that you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3:

Select the Gradient tool. You can do this by either clicking the letter “G” on your keyboard, or clicking on the tool button, or choosing Gradient Map in the Adjustments Panel.

 

Once the tool is selected, in the Options bar (top of Photoshop workspace), click the Gradient Picker (dropdown that has shading) and choose the Black/White gradient. Lastly, to the right of the Gradient Picker, click on the Linear Gradient icon.

 

 

 

 

Step 4:

With the Gradient tool selected, hold Shift and click and drag the tool’s crosshair from left to right (or right to left) depending on your preference. You will see a temporary guideline appear (if you are holding shift, then the line will be held horizontal creating a vertical mask). The gradient mask will appear automatically when you unclick. You can re-draw the line as many times as you like to experiment with the depth of fade and the mask will update automatically. You can also fade top to bottom or bottom to top, depending on your preferences and the image in question.

 

Don’t forget to save your final image!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also use this technique to fade to a solid color, such as white, to create a customized postcard:

Same as Step 1 above

Step 2:

Instead of selecting Black and White, choose Solid Color from the New Adjustment Layer menu. Photoshop will open up a “color picking” dialogue box, select the color of your choice and click OK. A colored layer will appear and you will no longer see your image. No worries.

 

Step 3:

Select the Gradient tool, same as Step 3 above.

Step 4:

Make sure the Color Fill layer is active, then click near the middle of the color layer and drag the crosshair while holding the shift key (left or right) about 1” to start. You can experiment until you get the proper width for your needs.

Step 5:

If you need to move your image around, so that you can see the content you want, just double click the Background Layer in the Layers panel, rename it to Layer 0, click OK (this makes it editable). Then choose the Move tool (V), or click the icon in the toolbar. With the Move tool, you can drag the image around until the content you want to show is seen. Click enter to accept the move change.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6:

Add text. To do this, click the Text tool from the toolbar. Click within the image on the workspace and add text. You can manipulate the font characteristics to your liking, as well as move the text box around to suit your needs.

 

Don’t forget to save your image!

Happy Creating!!

Get Creative!

In an earlier blog I discussed being creative through the use of alternative lens or through HDR image processing, but there are other ways to be creative as well. Below are some of examples of how using Gradient Masks and Brushes in Photoshop can add character and uniqueness to an otherwise “ordinary” image. I will start with photography is wildly subjective, so not everyone will prefer my creative efforts over the original image, but my goal here is to get your juices flowing!

The first two examples show the use of gradient masks:

Here is an image of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. This is the first time I have captured the memorial from this angle and closeness, and I like the image. But I have hundreds of images of the Lincoln Memorial, so how do I make this one different? In this case, I decided to reflect the image back on itself, as if the memorial stood close to a body of water.

 

To learn this technique, check out our video tutorial on YouTube: Creating Reflections.

In this next image, I decided that a transit from black/white to color might be an interesting effect, giving motion to an otherwise still image.

 

 

 

This technique will be described in our next blog!

This last example shows the use of brushes and texture to create a painterly effect. As you can see, this first image is really dull; albeit a beautiful flower, but taken against a dull green paper (with a fold! in it). No movement, no context. Since I really liked the tulip, I needed a way to improve this image. I decided to create a watercolor out of it, through the use of texture and brushes.

 

 

These are just a few examples of the power of gradient masks, brushes, and textures. In my next few blogs, I will demonstrate the easy steps to create the color fade effect, fade to solid color, and reflection effects. Think of the possibilities; these techniques can be used to manipulate images, create customized announcements or Christmas cards that include images that fade to text, and as well as create composite (collage) images.

The painterly effect demonstrated in the image above is too complicated to describe in a suitable length blog, so if you are interested in this technique, I am happy to teach you how to do it and other Photoshop techniques in a customized workshop. For more information on our image processing workshops, click here.

 

TopazLabs Glow!

Topaz Labs announces a new program – GLOW!

This program is so creative! With over 70 unconventional filters, Glow can electrify your images in so many imaginative ways; from neon effects to added detail with graphic lines. The product has that same user-friendly feel as the other TopazLab products you know and love.

From Dec 9 through Dec 31, TopazLabs is running a promotion on this new innovative editor. To take advantage of the introductory price of just $49.99 (regularly $69.99), use coupon code: INTROGLOW, when checking out.

This program is great for all types of photography as well, from macro to wide angle, nature to urban decay. With so many filter alternatives, each one fully customizable, there is no limit to this program’s application. The program can be used as as a plugin, or as a stand-alone editor. Which means you do need to own a host program such as Lightroom or Photoshop to use this application.

System Requirements: Mac OSX 10.8+ or Windows 7/8 x 64bit + OpenGL 2.1

Here are some images enhanced with Glow!

 

To learn more about Glow, purchase, or start a free trial, click below:

 

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.

Shoot the Sky!

As photographers, we are not always graced with the perfect sky. In fact, I have found that more often than not, I get to my destination and find perfectly blue, clear, no clouds, not even a whiff of clouds in the sky! If you have the luxury of being in a single location for a few days, you may get lucky to have the sky change, but that is not always possible. So no fear, there is a solution! So shoot away.

Through the magic of masking, you can add the perfect sky to any image. Some purists (and I used to be one) will say that is cheating. But the way I see it, if you are an artist creating a pleasing image, you have the right to manipulate your image in any way you wish; whether that be making it an abstract, making a color image black and white, using selective color, or even adding a better sky. Images are your creation, and unless you are just recording the location as a journalist, you should feel free to modify and improve upon it.

So with that in mind, here are some tips…

Tip 1: Shoot the sky. If you are out and about and see an incredible cloud formation or sky structure, shoot it. If you see an amazing sunset or sunrise… shoot it. I can be found taking sky shots through my car sunroof, if I see something that I may think will be useful later. I have a collection of over 2500 sky images readily available.

Tip 2: Shoot at varying degrees of angle. For example, don’t just shoot straight up, because if you have an image with a distant horizon, a sky shot facing nearly 90° to the horizon will look out of place, so collect distant horizon shots as well every possible angle of sky.

Tip 3: Collect sky images with all types of hues and saturation. This will allow you to select a sky that most “easily” fits your image, reducing processing time.

Below are some examples to illustrate my point. The original images were ok, but by changing the sky, I believe I have improved the mood and therefore, the story behind the images.

_DSF8599 _DSF8599-Edit

_XT15052 _XT15052-Edit

_DSF4544-Edit-2 _DSF4544-Edit-2-2

 

 

For masking techniques, check out this tutorial on YouTube!

The Potential of RAW

RAW or jpg

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The proverbial question… which format should I be shooting in.

To me the answer is simple: RAW

RAW captures the most data and more data means more alternatives when post processing an image. For those folks new to RAW, you may notice that the image you download, don’t really look like the images you saw on the LCD right after you captured them. And this can be frustrating; at least it was for me.

I remember thinking, why isn’t this what I remember?! Followed by expletives. Then, through discussions with friends that shared their knowledge with me, I learned that RAW images were unaltered by my camera, unlike the jpg thumbnail of my images I viewed on the LCD.

After you capture an image, your camera creates a jpg thumbnail so that you can view your image on your camera’s LCD/viewfinder. To create the jpg, your camera runs algorithms, established by the manufacturer, to create a viewable image. These algorithms include contrast, hue/saturation, and compression, among other enhancements. If you set your camera to capture jpgs, then the images you download from the camera will look like the jpgs you reviewed on the LCD/viewfinder.

However, if your capture your images in RAW format, your images will seem flat and dull in comparison to the thumbnails. This is because when the camera is set to RAW, no algorithms are applied to the files (other than in the creation for the jpg thumbnail used for review). The benefit is that you have so much more data to work with when you go to post process your images. But it doesn’t change the frustration you may feel when initially reviewing your image files.

In this video, I demonstrate the potential of the RAW file by showing how just a few minor adjustments can take a dull RAW file to something worth sharing.

To view the video, click here!

Enjoy!

 

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.