Archive for the ‘Image Processing’ Category

The Photographers High

Monday, July 24th, 2017

There are many reasons each of us choose to pick up a camera and take photos. Today everyone is a photographer with cameras practically attached to our body in one way or another. Give it a few more years and they will be physically attached to all of us. Yet why we do photography and what we feel while doing it ranges significantly. A person might take a small number of photos occasionally snapping on their phone to remember a moment as personal keepsake. Another one is taking tens of thousands of frames a year as professional photographer in some calculated fashion to deliver certain types of photos to clients. Yet another photographer might take a smaller number of high quality photos only when they feel inspired and connected to a scene or moment. The list could go on and of course many of us likely do it for a combination of reasons. You get the idea.


Over the years it’s dawned on me there are scenes and moments I experience that quiet literally put my body in a moment of experiencing a high. The endorphin rush can bring on a sudden state of euphoria. I am not a drug user and have only used prescription pain meds a few times when warranted yet I can imagine there has to be some similarity to the highs one might experience out in nature that are comparable to what we can do ingesting drugs or chemicals in our body. Come to think of it the infrequent high I get when running is similar to what I experience on occasion with photography. After all, there is a reason we have the term natural high. This is certainly one reason why I do photography. The experience in the field before you even get home to process the photo can be exhilarating.


This is certainly not the only reason that keeps me coming back to “shoot up” for another high yet it’s definitely a strong one. Why is it that many of us go through funks or down periods in our artistic pursuits? It’s because we are no longer experiencing that high and we have to find new ways to bring it back. Not much different than building up a tolerance to something and no longer getting the same response in our mind and body. Unlike those addicted to drugs or alcohol that need to be looking for ways to cope without, we as outdoor photographers should be doing the opposite and looking for ways to bring that high back.

Now don’t confuse this topic with needing to be obsessed or constantly engaged with photography to find pure enjoyment and highs. That is definitely not the case. Sometimes it might be fully immersing one’s self while other times it’s stepping back and finding balance. In this post are photos where I have experienced a high of sorts that I can still recall to this day.


If you are off your game and not feeling into it like you used to be, here are some ways to bring it back or keep it going. All of these I have used personally at one time or another.

1) The Gear – Force yourself to use different or less gear. I very recently took a short trip with the primary reason being photography and I left my most used lens at home, my wide angle. You are correct I didn’t even bring it with me just in case!

2) Get Social – If you tend to photograph by yourself most of the time, then try going out with others. Plenty of ways to make this happen in today’s connected world. On the flip side if you always go out with others spend some time going out on your own.

3) New Places – If you tend to go back to the same places all the time it may not be giving you the same level of satisfaction you once felt. Spread your wings and fly somewhere new, or fill the gas tank and head down the highway.

4) Switch Modes – Try different types of photography. If you always photograph nature landscapes then if for nothing else but to provide a different perspective try macro or abstract. Heck, maybe even get out for a stroll city streets for photos.

5) Continuing Education – Take a class, workshop or read a book on photography. These can help provide different ways of thinking and new inspiring ideas. Inspiration often comes from what you are surrounding yourself with. Closing yourself off won’t help.

6) Take Five – Sometimes it’s simply stepping away from the camera for a short period of time to do something different altogether.  Doing this can restore that desire and love for all things photography.

Best of luck that you find the natural high you are looking for with all your photography experiences! If you have additional tips to keep the inspiration and excitement flowing, feel free to share it here.

How To Customize Your Photoshop Workspace by Sean Bagshaw

Monday, November 7th, 2016

In the video tutorial below (email subscribers can click the title link to view the video on the web) I take you through a feature of Photoshop that is super helpful and pretty simple, but also something that can be a little confusing for a lot of people…customizing your Photoshop workspace.

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Photoshop is a massive application with powerful tools aimed at different types of uses…photography, digital painting, graphic design, 3D modeling and website development just to name a few. It arranges similar tools, functions and features into panels. You can also add custom panels to Photoshop, such as Tony Kuyper’s TKActions and Infinity Mask panels. Very few of us ever make regular use of every single Photoshop panel. In addition, we all have different workflow preferences and screen space limitations. The ability to create one or more custom workspaces in Photoshop enables you to personalize and evolve your space to best fit how you work and establish optimal efficiency and creative flow.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Please post in questions in the comments section and please share any of your own Photoshop workspace tricks and tips.

Sean is a full time photographer and photography educator. You can see more of his images and find out about his video tutorial courses and upcoming workshops, tours and classes on his website at www.OutdoorExposurePhoto.com.

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A Lexicon of Post-Processing Terms in Landscape Photography Today

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

 

Landscape photographers are increasingly turning toward more interpretive modes of presentation in order to express their own ideas about the scenes that they encounter. New techniques in field work and related digital processing have fueled this development, often enabling photographers to produce images that were nearly impossible to achieve in the film era. These techniques address a plethora of age-old problems in landscape photography, from displaying a vast depth-of-field to escaping the constraints of shutter speeds and fixed angles of view. Whether the goal is to overcome limitations of current photographic equipment or to infuse a photograph with creative subjectivity, digital solutions have opened up a new world of options and have generated a world of terminology to go with them. In response to frequent requests for explanations of certain terms, I offer the following lexicon.

These terms are those that pertain to recent developments, advancements in field work and related post-processing made possible by the digital era. I have intentionally omitted common terms that have direct counterparts in darkroom development, such as dodging, burning, and cropping. This list is hardly exhaustive and is intended to highlight those techniques that have been most significant in landscape photography of the last decade. In addition, I have included terms that describe some newer techniques that I am increasingly asked to explain.

Reunion by Erin Babnik

 

BLENDS

Blends combine separate image files or else different treatments of a single file into a final image. Blending requires the use of layers and masking in editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. A ‘blend’ is generally distinct from a ‘composite’ in its use of source files created during a single photography outing at a particular location.


Exposure Blend:

Possibly the most essential of all blending techniques for landscape photographers is the Exposure Blend, which allows for selective control over tones in an image. A typical use of an exposure blend would be to present sky and land areas of a scene such that they appear to be in balance tonally, as the human eye might see them. Unlike the use of graduated filters, exposure blends allow for targeted tonal changes in any location of the image and at any level of opacity. These blends might combine different exposures produced as separate files or else differently processed iterations of a single raw file. Exposure Blends are typically achieved with freehand masking or with luminosity masking.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Sean Bagshaw) | Example 2 (By Chip Phillips)

Focal Length Blend:

This type of blend combines frames of a single scene that were shot at different focal lengths. The typical use of this kind of blend is to overcome the effects of “pancaking” or diminution of background features caused by the use of a wide-angle lens. By combining a longer focal length for a background with a wider one of a foreground, photographers can restore the prominence and presence of background features that might otherwise appear less impressive than they would in person. Focal Length Blends require manual blending using hard-edged masks.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Erin Babnik) | Example 2 (By Erin Babnik)

Perspective Blend:

One of the most versatile types of blending, the Perspective Blend allows the combination of frames shot using different nodal points. The most common type of Perspective Blend is the so-called “Vertorama”, which is essentially a vertically oriented panorama. Perspective Blends can also combine slightly different camera heights or angles that allow more descriptive or expressive views of certain foreground features without compromising the desired view of the background. Perspective Blends can be achieved with automated stitching software or with manual blending.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Erin Babnik) | Example 2 (By Erin Babnik)

Time Blend:

A Time Blend collapses together different moments of a natural event, allowing for a more extensive narrative or a more descriptive presentation, similar to what a video might accomplish. While an Exposure Blend might combine different moments that are only seconds apart (or less), a Time Blend could include instances that span across minutes or even an hour or more. A typical example would be a scene with fast-moving atmosphere and quickly changing light that showcases the most significant moments of the event. Another common variation on the technique is combining different shutter speeds in a single image, such as having a longer shutter speed to blur moving water and a shorter one to freeze foliage movement. Time Blends typically require freehand masking.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Erin Babnik) | Example 2 (By Enrico Fossati)

Twilight Blend:

This technique was developed to overcome problems of extreme dynamic range during twilight or night. The basic approach is to photograph land portions of a scene with ample ambient light separately from the night sky, keeping the camera in position on a tripod as long as it takes to create good exposures of both the land and the sky (typically about an hour). Twilight Blends can be achieved with freehand masking or with luminosity masking and usually require a substantial shift in white balance for the land portions of the image.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Miles Morgan) | Example 2 (By Michael Shainblum)

Close Encounter by Erin Babnik

 

STYLIZATIONS

These effects accentuate or augment a scene in ways that emphasize a mood and contribute to the style of a photo’s final presentation.


Glow/Light Bleed

When light shines through atmosphere that diffuses it substantially, any shadow areas behind the light lose contrast. The effect is often a pleasing, “glowy” one that emphasizes the light source. This natural phenomenon can be accentuated dramatically or even imitated outright by overlaying pixels that add brightness and diffusion. These pixels might be layers of bright color or selected areas of a blurred and brightened copy of the image file. The opacity of the effect is generally highest closer to the light source, typically requiring freehand application for naturalistic results. Photographer Ryan Dyar is widely regarded as the greatest pioneer of this technique, and his portfolio contains many images that exemplify it.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Ryan Dyar) | Example 2 (By Kevin McNeal)

Light Painting

Light Painting in processing is akin to dodging and burning in that it selectively brightens or darkens areas of an image, often with a change in hue involved as well. A typical application might add brightness and warmth to selected highlight areas and add cooler hues to darker ones in order to emphasize visual hierarchy, to direct eye movement, or to emphasize depth. Light Painting is usually best controlled with a combination of luminosity masks and freehand application, and it may involve the use of numerous layers that build up to a result like glazing techniques in oil painting. (Note that this is a processing technique that should not be confused with in-field “Light Painting”, which involves using artificial light sources and long exposures in low light situations.)

Click for more: Example 1 (By Erin Babnik) | Example 2 (By Ted Gore)

Orton Effect

This effect does have a direct counterpart in darkroom development, but I decided to include it in this lexicon because it has been widely adopted and adapted in the digital era. Photographer Michael Orton originated the technique using slide film in the mid-1980’s as a means of emulating the “Pen and Ink and Watercolor” technique of painting that produced a dreamy effect through its combination of media with different qualities. To create a similar effect with photography, Orton sandwiched together two slides that he took of a single scene, one slide with high detail and little color, along with a second slide that was out of focus and very colorful. Digital applications of this idea are numerous, ranging from subtle treatments that simply offset the effects of web sharpening, to more emphatic treatments that lend a painterly, glowing quality to an image. Numerous software filters, plug-ins, and scripts exist for automated applications of the effect, and of course manual applications are possible using layers in Photoshop.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Zack Schnepf) | Example 2 (By Chip Phillips)

Ruby Tuesday by Erin Babnik

 

FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES

The following techniques are among those that have been foundational in the more progressive strands of landscape photography in the digital era. They have opened up new options for composition, subject matter, conditions, locations, and timing to the extent that they lie at the heart of a distinct zeitgeist that has become evident in the last decade.


Focus Stacking

Focus stacking combines files shot with different focus points in order achieve a greater depth of field than would be possible in a single file. With this technique it is possible to have sharp focus on features at the very closest focusing distance of a lens while also having the same level of sharpness for everything else in a scene, all the way out to infinity focus. There are numerous standalone software programs that can automate the process of focus stacking, and Photoshop has stock features for focus stacking as well. Focus stacking can also be achieved manually via blending with layers and masks, although a manual blend is easiest to achieve with images that do not require  the combination of many focus points.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Erin Babnik) | Example 2 (By Justin Grimm)

HDR

The acronym for “High Dynamic Range”, this term describes any process that combines different exposures for the purpose of increasing the range of tones in an image beyond what is achievable in a single exposure. Many photographers reserve this term to distinguish automated processes that effect image tonality globally in a photograph, as distinct from manual blending techniques that allow highly selective control over tones in an image (see Exposure Blending above).

Luminosity Masking

A luminosity mask is a blending tool that allows precise targeting of tones in an image. The most common uses of a luminosity mask are exposure blending, dodging, and burning, but these masks are useful for a huge variety of editing tasks, including color work, light painting, adding light bleed, and creating custom Orton effects, among others. A luminosity mask is a type of “found mask”, which is any mask created from one of the eleven standard channels available in different image modes within Photoshop. The channel that all luminosity masks derive from is the Gray channel, which contains only the luminance values for a given image. Channels that contain color values, such as the Red or Blue channels, can also be very useful and work in the same way that luminosity masks do. Because found masks use gradations of tones or colors that exist as pixels in a photograph, they are much more precise for blending tasks than freehand masking is, and they are less likely to produce unwanted ‘halos’ and artifacts, as can happen easily with simple applications of hard-edged masks (that is, those created with selection tools such as the Lasso Tool). There are numerous Photoshop action sets available to create luminosity masks quickly and easily, the most popular being those available from Tony Kuyper.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Sean Bagshaw) | Example 2 (By Adrian Klein)

Hard Mask vs. Luminosity Mask

Stitching

Stitching refers to the process of seamlessly combining frames shot by panning a camera horizontally, vertically, or both. There are numerous standalone software programs for creating stitched images, and some are very sophisticated, allowing photographers to stitch together frames from very wide focal lengths and from different nodal points. Photoshop also has features that enable automated stitching, and of course manual solutions exist as well.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Marc Adamus) | Example 2 (By David Thompson)

Warping

Warping is a selective distortion of an image that has countless uses. Common examples include altering the relative proportions of certain parts of a scene, pulling unwanted edge details out of the frame, shifting regions of an image within the frame, correcting leaning features, and adding curvature to straight elements. Warping can be accomplished with the very edge of an ultra-wide-angle lens or with software tools, but blending with another layer of image data that contains normal proportions for the rest of the scene is usually necessary in either case. Although numerous software programs have warping features, Photoshop includes the most variety of them and offers the greatest amount of control, especially given the option to use masking for more targeted effects.

Click for more: Example 1 (By Ted Gore) | Example 2 (By David Thompson)

Backdraft by Erin Babnik

 

WHEN, WHY,  AND HOW MUCH?

My own preference is to use processing solutions creatively but conservatively, always striving for a high level of naturalism and subtlety and without creating images that have no basis in my own experiences. Nonetheless, those limitations are merely my preferences for my own output, and I enjoy seeing compelling photographs that push beyond the limits that I might set for myself. Perhaps the most important consideration for any type of processing is the rationale for choosing a particular technique. Like any decisions in art, those that work in the service of a creative goal are more likely to produce satisfying results. Anything done with intention tends to register with more viewers, allowing them to discover points where craft and ideas come together in powerful, meaningful displays of creative choice.

**Special thanks to the artists whose images are linked in this article and who collaborated with me on the selection of them!


Can you guess which of these techniques went into the photographs displayed in this article? Do you have any questions about any of these terms? Would you like to suggest terms for inclusion in future versions of this lexicon? If so, please feel free to chime in below.

 

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Erin divides her time between Cascadia’s Californian southern boundary and Slovenia, traveling and photographing extensively from home bases in both locations. Make sure to bookmark Erin’s site at www.erinbabnik.com. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The Histogram – One of the Most Useful Tools in Photography

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

by Zack Schnepf

I think the histogram is one of the most important and useful tools in all of photography.  It’s a tool I rely on throughout my entire workflow, but I notice it’s a concept that many students have a hard time fully understanding. It can be confusing at first, but once you understand your histogram, you can master your exposures. In this article I’ll share how I use the histogram and why I find it so usefulI.   I’ll discuss how I use it the field and in post production.

What is a histogram, how do you read it, and what information does it gives you?  Basically, a histogram is a graphical representation of the tonality of an image.  It shows what tones and colors exist in an image and the concentration of these tones.  Here is the basic anatomy of a histogram.  This histogram is from the image below of First Snow on Gothic Peak.  The left edge of the graph represents pure black, any tones beyond the left edge have no detail in them.  Conversely, the right edge represents pure white,  any tones beyond the right edge have no highlight detail, they are just pure white.  The middle of the graph represents the mid tones of the image.  So, left to right is the luminosity scale, or how bright or dark the tones are.  In this histogram you can see overlapping graphs of the three color channels RGB(red, green, blue) The height of the graphs indicates the concentration of tones of color and luminosity tones.  For instance, in the histogram you can see I have a spike in the blue channel toward the left side, that tells me I have a lot of dark blue tones in this image.  There is also a spike in the red channel right in the middle which tells me I have a large concentration of red midtones which you can see in the red foliage of the image.  The Height of the peaks is not important for judging exposure, so don’t worry how high the peaks are.  One of the most important things I look for in the field and in post processing is information that might be getting lost in either the shadows, or highlights.  In this histogram you can see that all of the information is being contained.  I can tell, because none of the color channel graphs are bumping into either edge.  I’ll elaborate on this further in the sections below.

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In the field, I rely on my histogram as a guide to give me an accurate assessment of each exposure I capture.  One of the biggest mistakes I see when teaching photo workshops is a student judging an exposure using the LCD on their camera.  I’ve been burned by this too many times to count.  I’ll be shooting in a low ambient light situation, take a quick look at the image on the LCD and think it looks great, but when I get home and view it on my computer I realize it’s way underexposed.  The low ambient light makes the image on the LCD seem really bright.  The only way to truly judge an exposure in the field is to check the histogram.   Below are 2 bracketed exposures of the same scene.  One exposed to capture the tones in the bright sky and the other exposed to capture the tones in the foreground area.  In the field, the darker exposure looked good on the LCD, you could even see detail in the foreground grasses, but one look at the histogram told me those foreground tones were way too dark.  You can see on the histogram for the darker exposure, the highlight detail is being captured well, there is no information being lost in the highlight, but there is a large spike next to the left edge of the histogram.  This indicates a high concentration of dark tones that contain very little detail.  I wanted to take another exposure to capture detail in the shadows.

Example4

 

This lighter exposure has plenty of detail in the shadows.  You can see in the histogram, the detail that was being lost in the shadows is being captured well.  There is now plenty of detail in the foreground grasses and stream.  On the other hand, the highlight tones are blowing out.  You can see there is a huge spike on the right edge of the histogram and it goes right up to the edge and beyond.  Anything beyond the edge has no detail in it.  This is what is known as a high dynamic range scene.  You could try to compromise and get an exposure in between and use Lightroom and Photoshop to recover the tones that are being lost, or you can bracket exposures and try to combine multiple exposures that contain a lot more information.  Either way, the histogram is the tool that will tell you if you have captured the information you need, or not.

Example3

In post production the histogram helps me determine which tonality adjustments to make.  Below is an image captured while teaching a workshop in the Palouse this spring.  You can see on the histogram, most of the color and luminance tones are concentrated in the middle and left side of the image.  This indicates that it is a low contrast, dark exposure.  This is important information to determine what post processing this image needs.  I would like to add contrast, but also brighten the image.

Example1

This is after one contrast adjustment.  I was able to increase contrast, brighten the image, and control some highlights that were getting too bright.  You can see the tones in the histogram are more spread out, but the highlights and shadows have plenty of detail information in them.  From here I can decide if want to add more contrast.  I can also lighten, or darken the overall exposure.  Either way, the histogram will help guide me to the finished image.

Example2

You can learn more about Zack and his instructional videos on his website

Using The New Select and Mask Feature in Photoshop CC 2015.5

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

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I have to say that getting regular Photoshop updates and new features through my Creative Cloud subscription has been great. In the most recent update to CC Adobe gave the Refine Selection/Refine Mask features a big overhaul and combined them into a single new task space called Select and Mask. This new task space makes it even easier to create selections and refine them so your masks can be even more precise and will target adjustments just how you intend. It seems that the edge detection ability in this new feature has also been improved over the old Refine tool, making even better selections of very fine details, such as grass, hair and tree branches.

In this video tutorial I demonstrate how to use the new Select and Mask feature and also show how it can be used in conjunction with the TKActions V4 panel, even though this feature didn’t exist when the panel came out.

Sean is a full time photographer and photography educator. You can see more of his images and find out about his video tutorial courses and upcoming workshops, tours and classes on his website at www.OutdoorExposurePhoto.com.

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How To Use The Radial Tool In Post Processing To Maximize Impact

Monday, June 27th, 2016

One of the my favorite tools to use when post processing is the Radial Tool which can be found in either Adobe Camera Raw 7.0 and higher or Adobe Lightroom 6. The purpose of the Radial tool is direct attention to a certain focal point or subject by using a vignette effect. To be more specific I use it to really add drama and impact to my images by way of mood. The Radial filter allows you to make changes to a part of the image called a localized adjustment. This localized adjustment can be used to really draw your audience into a part of the image you want them to focus on. For most of my images this is where the main subject can be found. I can use the radial filter to do almost anything to this area of the image.

Where to Find The Radial Filter In Camera RAW

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The Radial Filter Dialog Box In Camera RAW and Its Tools

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In this article I will describe a few of my favorite techniques when using the radial filter.

How you chose to apply the filter depends on you and your vision for the image. Once the filter is open you are given several options when applying the filter.

Here are some of my favorite options when using the radial filter to create impact in images.

The first option is to either choose to have the effect on the inside or the outside of the radial filter. I like to apply the effect to the inside of the radial filter.

Inside Or Out

Once that is chosen you are then presented several different options to apply to that area of the image. When I am looking to add drama and mood to my image the first thing I do is decide on a mood for the image by choosing a warm or cool temperature for the area I am looking to have the viewer focus on. I am very fond of using a warm color temperature inside the radius of the radial took to create a strong tension. This is especially important when the rest of the image has a cooler overall tone. In general, studies have shown that people are more attracted to warmer colors. Applying a warm color temperature inside the radial filter is great way to draw the viewer into the part of the image you want them to look at.

Temperature

Secondly, the next option is exposure and whether to increase or decrease it. As a general rule for maximum impact I like to do the opposite in the radial filter of what the rest of the image looks like. Thus, I have found that I like to increase the exposure inside the radial filter while overall globally decreasing the overall exposure outside the filter. This gives the image the added drama through light and tones. This all gives a certain mood to the image that I would describe as ethereal. I use the contrast, highlight, shadow, white, and blacks in conjunction with the exposure to achieve the desired effect. While exposure is the main tool, I use the other tools just mentioned help to accentuate the exposure to get it looking just right.

Exposure

Thirdly, I like to use the combination of the clarity, dehaze, and saturation tools together to achieve a soft, surreal, and painterly look just inside the radial filter area. You can also combine these three tools with the sharpness and noise reduction options to really fine-tune your results. The subject inside the radial filter will determine whether you increase or decrease it. For example, if I am working with the sun or another source of light coming into the image; I will decrease the clarity and dehaze tools. I generally always increase the saturation a small amount within the radial filter to really maximize the impact.

Clarity

The last important tool when applying the radial filter is the feather effect. By my experience I have always had good results with the feather at a high amount. Thus, the gradient is smooth and not as noticeable. It’s important for your changes in the radial filter to look natural even though the results are adding more drama.

Feather

Applying the radial filter is a great way to add a substantial impact and mood to your image overall. My choosing where to use it you can accentuate light and mood together to achieve excellent

The following is how to get to the radial filter within Photoshop:

***Important You Can Get To The Radial Filter In Camera RAW with the Shortcut Letter”J”

Or In Lightroom Shift + M

(The following instructions are direct from the Adobe Help Page on the Radial Filter)

you can also visit: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/help/lightroom-radial-filter.html

The Radial Tool In Camera RAW

Before The Radial Tool In Camera RAW 

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While Applying The Radial Tool In Camera RAW

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After Using The Radial Tool In Camera RAW

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How To Get To The Radial Tool In Photoshop

  • ) Open one of the following:
    • Open a camera raw file.
    • With an image open in Photoshop, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
  • ) Select the Radial Filter tool from the toolbar.


Press J to toggle the Radial Filter tool.


  • ) Use the New and Edit radio button options to choose whether you want to create a filter or edit an existing filter.
  • ) Do one of the following:
    • To create a Radial filter, click and drag across the region, and draw a circular or elliptical shape. This shape determines the area affected or excluded from the alterations you are about to perform.
    • To edit a Radial filter, click any of the gray handles on the photo. When selected, the handle turns red.
  • 
)


To determine what area of the photo is modified, choose an Effect option (located below the sliders).
    • OutsideAll modifications are applied outside the selected area.
    • InsideAll modifications are applied to the selected area.
  • ) Adjust the size (width and height) and orientation of the Radial filter added. Select a filter and:
    • Click and drag the center of the filter to move and reposition it.
    • Hover the pointer over any of the four filter handles, and when the pointer icon changes, click and drag to change the size of the filter.

Hover the pointer close to the edge of the filter, and when the pointer icon changes, click and drag the edge of the filter to change the orientation.

Where To Find The Radial Tool In Lightroom

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In the Develop module, select the Radial Filter tool from the too


lstrip

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  • The Radial Filter tool (Shift + M) is available in the Develop module.

 







2) Do one of the following:

  • To create a Radial Filter, click and drag the mouse across the region of interest. This will draw an elliptical shape, which determines the area that is either affected or excluded from the adjustments you perform.
  • To edit an existing Radial Filter, click any of the gray handles on the photo

While drawing, press Shift to constrain the Radial Filter to a circle.



 

3) To determine what area of the photo is modified, select or clear the Invert Mask checkbox. The checkbox, by default, is not selected.

  • Invert Mask not selected (default): Changing any setting affects the image region outside the marquee area.
  • Invert Mask selected: Changing any setting affects the image region inside the marquee area.

 

4) Adjust the size (width and height) and orientation of the Radial Filter added. Select a filter, and:

  • Click and drag the center of the filter to move and reposition it.
  • Hover the pointer over any of the four filter handles, and when the pointer icon changes, click and drag to change the size of the filter.
  • Hover the pointer close to the edge of the filter, and when the pointer icon changes, click and drag the edge of the filter to change the orientation.

The filter area is represented by an elliptical marquee area.

 

5) Use the adjustment sliders (shown in step 1) to create the desired visual changes. Use the Feather slider to adjust the visual falloff of the applied adjustment.

6) Repeat steps 2 through 5 to continue adding or editing filters.

7) Click Reset, to remove all the Radial Filters applied to your image.

The Two Essential Strategies of Effective Post-Processing

Monday, May 30th, 2016

 

Knowing how to use post-processing software is important for any creative photographer, but it is equally important to know what to do with that knowledge. No matter how proficient we are with our development tools, we still need to decide which direction to take an image for its final presentation. What follows is a guide for getting the most out of your image development by having clear strategies to guide the process. These strategies fall into two basic categories: directing attention and conveying character.

1) DIRECTING ATTENTION: Work with the composition, not against it.

Effective post-processing will emphasize the composition of a photograph by helping it to direct eye movement and to highlight points of visual interest. The first step to determining how to proceed with processing is to have a clear idea of how the eye should travel through the frame and which parts of the image are most important. Where is the main path that the eye should follow? Is there a primary point of interest? Are other points of interest playing a supporting role or are they competing for attention? Is anything drawing the eye out of the frame? With these questions answered, we can concentrate on a few approaches to addressing any concerns that they raise.

• Finesse the Light

The eye follows light, so it will be attracted to the most luminous parts of an image. Increasing or decreasing the luminance of an area selectively can help to bring it ‘forward’ or to push it ‘back’ in the hierarchy of visual interest. Likewise, a gradation of light can be very effective in transitioning the eye between zones.

Some caveats: While digital processing gives us remarkable and very selective control over luminance in an image, there are limits to what we can accomplish in affecting the quality of light in a scene. Very strong, directional light is the most difficult to finesse because its effects tend to be quite emphatic, while soft light is quite malleable, allowing for a high degree of discretion in post-processing. The suggestions above for adjusting luminance can only go so far—if the light in a photograph is working strongly against its composition, then that photo is probably a candidate for reshooting in different conditions.

• Adjust Colors

Colors can attract attention much like luminance does. Warmer colors ‘advance’ and draw the eye more than cool ones, which tend to recede in an image. Nonetheless, cool colors can demand a lot of attention if they are anomalies in an otherwise warm color palette. Selectively adjusting the hue or saturation of a feature can have a great effect on its presence in the frame, allowing you to control how much attention it demands.

• Take Charge of Textures and Forms

Features with greater dimensionality attract more attention, while flatter ones are less noticeable. Sometimes increasing the contrast of a feature will help to make it stand out better. Conversely, making an area “flatter” (that is, less dimensional) can help to take attention away from it. If a scene has an area of busy detail that detracts from the more interesting parts of the photograph, then reducing the contrast there could be beneficial to the overall image.

Forms that are very different from everything around them are also likely to attract attention. For example, a footprint in an area of smooth sand or a jet contrail in the sky may amount to an unfortunate distraction, in which case it may be a good idea to remove those features by cloning them out.

Flowers for Miles by Erin Babnik

Selective adjustment of luminosity directs attention to the path that the eye should follow and away from busy textures that could be distracting.

 

2) CONVEYING CHARACTER: Bring out the essence of the image.

Any compelling photograph has the potential to suggest certain qualities of character or mood over others. A scene may be cheerful, ominous, dreamy, surreal, whimsical, or any number of other possibilities. Identifying the essence of an image in these terms will provide a framework for processing decisions of a more creative nature. Once you have a good idea of the character or mood that you would like to express, there are a few categories of adjustments to consider that can be very useful in creating the final look of an image accordingly.

• Tailor the Overall Tonality

Most photographers agree that camera settings should target an exposure that will provide the most flexibility when it comes time to process the image. Working this way in the field may result in an initial tonality that differs from what will best express the mood that you have envisioned for the final photo, however. A cheerful feeling may require a brighter treatment, while darker tones tend to suggest a more “moody” character. Even the range of tones may need to be narrowed or expanded to hit the right note, as it were. For example, when giving an image an airy, high-key treatment, you may want to restrict the range of tones so that there are no absolute blacks in it.

Swept Away by Erin Babnik

I wanted a light, warm, airy, impressionistic feel for this image because those qualities are what the scene suggested to me when I experienced it. I removed some distracting blue hues from the top of the photo and avoided making the shadows very dark. There is no absolute black in the final image.

• Constrain the Color Palette

Colors can do a lot to express a certain character. A palette of earthy tones tends to provide a more mature, relaxing appearance, while more vibrant palettes can suggest high levels of energy or exuberance. Shifting certain hues within an image can get them to adhere better to the dominant color scheme, making the character of a final photograph more pronounced. Harmonious color palettes are not only more expressive but are more settling to the eye, so it is worthwhile to explore the possibilities for getting colors to harmonize and to set the right mood for the scene.

• Emphasize Ambience

Some processing treatments do more to establish a sense of ambience than anything else. Deliberately softening an image or making it more hazy can cause it to appear more dreamy, whereas increasing sharpness and clarity can lend a more gritty tone to the whole. Making light sources appear to glow by diffusing them versus hardening their edges can have a great effect on the tenor of a scene. Such treatments can be very subtle and yet still go a long way towards emphasizing the qualities of an image that make it particularly expressive.

Rhapsody in Blue by Erin Babnik

Constraining the color palette to an analogous scheme helped to emphasize the brooding mood set by the storm clouds. There was enough yellow in the raw file that I could have brought it out and produced a complementary scheme, which would have a more peppy mood than what I wanted to convey. I therefore cooled off the traces of warm hues in both the sand and the sky opening in order to ensure that they wouldn’t disrupt the overall feel of the image.

Considering how we might direct attention and what character we want to convey will give clear direction to our development process. Although there are endless options for editing images these days, they are all best employed in the service of a goal. Sometimes a round of experimentation is necessary to help define those goals, but once the direction is clear, all else will follow with more effective results. Do you ever struggle with the direction to take a photograph during its development? What strategies do you find most helpful in pointing the way forward?

 

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Erin divides her time between Cascadia’s Californian southern boundary and Slovenia, traveling and photographing extensively from home bases in both locations. Make sure to bookmark Erin’s site at www.erinbabnik.com. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and 500px.

Needle In The Haystack – Finding Imperfections On Large Prints

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

 

Note: Don’t scroll down right away if you want to “test” yourself on this post with the first set of images before looking over the second set.

Recently I had over a dozen different photos printed for a project I am working on, many of them what I would classify as large (>=24×36) and some of them it was the first time I printed them large. Looking over the final prints as I signed them, I couldn’t find any imperfections that jumped out at me which I can’t say is always the case.

I always try what I can to see blemishes or imperfections that will only make themselves known when showing up to your doorstep or the client when printed large, but are tricky to spot before you ship the files to the lab. What looks fine as web size or even filling up the full screen on a decent size monitor may look like an issue on a large print.

Here are four examples that went to print that either myself or the client caught a potential issue after it was printed. The first set of images is for you to look over and see if you notice something that might be an issue when blown up. Realize that this is also somewhat subjective, you could notice something that I think is fine and vice versa. Plus you may not agree with what I am choosing to clean up which is another topic all together. I also realize that having a large web sized file makes it tough but know for all these cases the image you first see has an ‘issue’ that required me to reprint it. Take a look at them and see if you notice what it is, note you will need to click on them to view the larger size. I will say two of them are very hard to pick out which is my intention here. Then scroll down to the images further in the post to see if it’s the same as you found.

Paint Splatter

Painted200-30x45

TumaloMountain-022413_0084

Rocky Reflections

 

The question of course is what to do to try and spot issues when printing larger prints as early in the printing process as possible. Here are ones I have used either on their own or various combinations. I find #2 being the best choice given I have enough time for the order in question.

1.    View at Print Size – Review the photo at 100% or size you will print within Photoshop and pan around from corner to corner. Anything that looks funky or out of place will likely look the same or worse when you get the large print. For reference my processing setup includes two monitors with my main one a 24”.

2.    Test Print – Before you spend $300 or $400 for that large metal or canvas print order a less expensive paper print. Many labs have different paper options and you can choose a lower/regular quality option for this purpose.

3.    Big Screen – If you don’t have a huge 30″ monitor display on your TV or project if you have a projector. Yes the resolution won’t be the same as your computer monitor yet you can still see it large for possible issues to clean up. If you notice them here you certainly will on a finer resolution print.

4.    Stop Staring – Don’t stare at the digital file roaming around endlessly without stepping away and come back later in the day or next day. You look too long and start to see what you want, a file that’s ready to go to the lab whether it is or isn’t!

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Below are what I deemed potential imperfections or issues on each image (shown with black square zooming 100% to specific spot) with my comments on each.

Photo – lichen on rock near Lake Abert, Oregon. In this case when I got the 24×36 metal print from the lab, I was sure it was a scratch from shipping or something from the lab. Then I looked at my file. This white hair, likely from an animal was nothing that jumped out to me on my 24” monitor but once I got the metal print I realized I could not let it go to my client. I had to reorder after cleaning it up.

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Photo – White River Falls, Oregon. Here I shipped off a 30×45 paper print to a gallery/frame shop that they ordered. I got a call that there was something that looked like a black hair in the image. I said what?! I looked over the actual print before it went out. I pulled up the file and low and behold there is this hair-like line that I am guessing is from zooming is a piece of rebar that got stuck with the rocks.

5-21-2016 3-11-54 PM

Photo – Tumalo Mountain, Oregon summit in winter. This one is more obvious and I should have noticed it but goes to show you even the objects that I feel should be cleaned up sometimes are missed. You could waiver either way about it leaving the avalanche warning sign but in the end it was a distraction and I felt should not be left in the image looking at it large.

5-21-2016 3-32-14 PM

Photo – Mount Jefferson, Oregon reflected in seasonal tarn. This is one that is probably the most subjective. These white’ish rocks in this tarn looked fine small yet when I received the 24×36 canvas they looked like a printing issue, not rocks. They really did not look right to me. That said in this case I rationalized that it was part of the image and I was letting the small details take me over beyond a reasonable manner. It went to the client and they were thrilled with the canvas piece.

5-22-2016 7-21-44 AM

These are just a few examples that quickly came to mind when writing this blog post that I thought were worth sharing. Even though I am not printing or selling at a high volume I value the quality of my work which is why I pay attention to these details while trying to not let it consume me. It’s always a tricky balance. Feel free to share other tips you have on this as I would welcome hearing them.

Before and After Post Processing Part 3

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

by Zack Schnepf

The most common request I get is to see my photos before and after post processing.  This is part three of my before and after series.  Good processing is more important than ever.  The vast majority of professional photographers capture their images with a digital camera.  This has allowed photographers to take control over the entire process, from capture, processing and sharing images.  For the type photography I do, artistic landscape; processing plays a vital role.  This is where I can create a mood to better convey my own experience.  There is a lot I can do in the field to do this as well, but good processing technique allows me to steer the final image toward my own vision of the scene.  In this article I’ll share 3 examples from my trip to the Canadian Rockies with my Photo Cascadia buddies.

Let me preface by saying I am not a documentary photographer, I’m an artistic photographer.  This is an important distinction. I’m stating this in the interest of avoiding the pointless philosophical debate on how much post processing is acceptable.  If you would like take part in that argument, I refer you to an excellent article written by David Kingham:  http://www.exploringexposure.com/blog/2016/3/19/in-defense-of-post-processing

A few notes on the RAW files used.  I use a very bland camera profile in Lightroom which gives me the widest dynamic range possible for blending multiple exposures.  As a result, my RAW images look quite bland, low contrast and lack pop.  This is intentional, it leaves me with the most information possible to work with in Photoshop.

I produced a video detailing the techniques used in the following examples.  In the video I guide you through my most current multiple exposure workflow, illustrating how I use the powerful tools in Lightroom, and Photoshop along with the TKAction Panel V4.  The level of control you can have with these tools is pretty incredible.  To learn more you can visit my site:  http://www.zschnepf.com/Other/Videos2

This first example has an extreme dynamic range to overcome and some serious distortion near the edges.  The distortion could not be corrected with the automated functions in Lightroom, or Photoshop.  I blended the exposures first and then tackled the distortion correction.

 

This next example also has a huge dynamic range to overcome.  So much so, I chose it as my example image in my latest instructional tutorial video, Tonality Control 2.0.

 

Another interesting example from the Lake O’Hara Wilderness.

 

Photoshop for Landscape Photographers

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

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I just finished the second edition of my video series, originally titled “Image Editing Volume 1”.  Now called Photoshop for Landscape Photographers ,this series of 10 videos has been completely redone from the ground up, with up-to-date software, new images, and current techniques. I have tried to keep all of the original content and have added new stuff as well.

Some highlights include:

-All tutorials have been completely redone with all new images, up-to-date software, including Tony Kuyper’s new Tkv4 Panel, and current techniques.
-1920×1080 HD Video, 3hrs and 50min. of content.
-A new video titled “Workspace Settings” is included, discussing the ideal settings for Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop.
-Along with content from the first volume, I demonstrate my most commonly used blending modes in my new “Layers” video. My new “Layer Masks” video incorporates the use of these blending modes, along with current techniques for applying adjustments to images using layers and masks.
-In my new “Luminosity Masks” video, along with original content, I demonstrate how to create and use 16-bit luminosity masks, and demonstrate the ease of using Tony Kuyper’s new Tkv4 Panel for creating and using these powerful luminosity masks.
-My new “Multiple Exposure Blending For Dynamic Range” video includes in-the-field footage of me on location in the Palouse where I demonstrate my technique for capturing multiple exposures for blending in Photoshop.  In this video I demonstrate three different blending techniques on three different images.
-In my new video, “Multiple Exposure Blending for Depth of Field”, I demonstrate my current technique for focus stacking on two different images, and include a portion on cleaning up if things go a bit haywire.
-In my new “Micro Contrast” video, along with original techniques, I include the use of the Camera Raw filter, and Tony Kuyper’s awesome new Tonal Clarity actions.
-Along with my favorite “Orton” effect technique, I include a new technique for light painting in my new “Enhancing the Light” video.
-In my new “Color” video, I include all of the current tools that I use for color adjustments, and demonstrate the use of luminosity masks for color adjustments. I also include a segment on my technique for color painting.
-My new “Sharpening” video includes current sharpening techniques used for web and print. I also demonstrate the ease of using Tony Kuyper’s all new Web Sharpening action.

For a complete list of content and to watch an introduction video, visit the Instructional Videos page on my website.

Thanks for the support!