In honor of the new Beta version of Lightroom 5 recently released, I decided to do a little Lightroom blog this week. The image above was taken from a train on the way to St. Andrews – what beautiful and dramatic landscapes they have in Scotland! Everything was done in Lightroom 5 except for one little plant distraction that I could have used the updated Clone Brush in Lightroom to fix, but I just can’t seem to get the results I like. Otherwise, this image showcases the new Radial Filter (which I love!). Now I always go to the Lens Corrections section and check Enable Profile Correction and Remove Chromatic Aberration, and press the Auto button to make sure my image is straight. Then cropping is next. One of the Punchy Sunset presets from David duChemin’s Lightroom 4 Presets Package was applied first as a starting point. Adjusted the exposure slider before going into the Radial Filter. A large oval vignette was dragged out in the in the image and only the Exposure slider was adjusted darker just a little. An Adjustment brush was used to sharpen the houses up on the hillside. Then in the HSL section, the clouds were given a little extra pop by adjusting the blues in the Luminance slider area. The Graduated Filter was pulled down a little from the Lightroom preset that was applied. That was about all there was to it. Really loved the results without too much overall manipulation. This is why I love Lightroom!
…..This image is of some Ostica African Daisies that I planted in my front yard. This image used some Photoshop adjusting to get this look, but I wanted to show how nice Lightroom turned this image into a really good black and white with just a preset applied. It is a good example of an image I would never have tried as a black and white effect, but I recently downloaded this really interesting free Lightroom preset called RM4 Black and White 2. Just applied the preset and did a slight sharpening of the daisy centers. In Photoshop, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the whole image – this is often my first step in Photoshop. On a New Layer a little background clean up was done to make it a nice even black. Next a Darken Layer was created to emphasize the dark lines in the petals (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog). Next I did some paint clean up of some of the light shadows on the petals (see my Getting Rid of Those Blown Out Areas in Your Image blog). On a New Layer applied Kim Klassen Cafe‘s Dream Brush Set-kkdreamstamp brush (can find these goodies if you join her Test Kitchen), but a text layer could have been created using a grunge-look font. Kim Klassen’s Archived Set Way Black Frame was used as a frame and turned into a frame overlay by following my How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images blog.
…..These flowers are actually bright pink Magellan Zinnias with beautiful bright yellow centers. The preset applied was Lightroom’s Black and White Look 3. Then an adjustment brush was used to paint in the different colors on the flowers – created three different areas, one for each color. Last the new Radial Filter was used to add focus to the blue flower, and a little to the purple and yellow flowers. Then the image was taken into Photoshop. A little clean up was done, Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Texture Anne was applied setting the layer to Soft Light at 40%, and finally a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to add back a little contrast. An OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controller 15 frame (no long available unfortunately – one of the best frame programs around) was added and a Vibrance Adjustment Layer was used to bright up the colors just a little (Vibrance +21 and Saturation +31). That was it! Lightroom did a pretty good job of colorizing the black and white conversion.
There are several new features in the new Lightroom 5 release and to be honest, I have not even tried most of them. I will definitely upgrade due to just a couple things I really like about the program (and I am not getting into a Cloud discussion since I am on the fence about this one). There were two things that got my attention right away: the new Radial Filter (which was used on the flowers above) which can be applied very subtly, with different parameters, and as many times as you want; and the Upright Adjustment button – now no need to have crooked images ever again. In the Lens Correction section just click the Auto adjustment button, and then go to the Crop Tool to finish it up. It is fabulous and I use it on every image I process. There are some other changes I will probably use like the Slideshow module now can have both still and videos in your slideshows. The Cloning/Healing Brush has been updated but I still struggle getting nice results – still like Photoshop for clean up issues. It does a great job on little spots but more difficult when trying to adjust a larger area.
You should check out the program and see if you like Lightroom. I have used it since Lightroom 1 and have never looked back. It catalogs all my photos for me and keeps me as organized as I am ever going to be with my pictures!
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section
How to Use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) or Lightroom 4 Quickly
New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability
Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom
Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!
I loved the way this image turned – the kind of art I like to do! These orchids were sitting backwards in the grocery store and it just struck me how interesting they looked from this angle. So here is the shot I got with my little point and shoot. Since it was not the best quality image, I had to do quite a bit of manipulating to it and that included some major dodging to clean up the lines in the image. I can’t tell you how much I rely on Lightroom to help me clean up these JPGs from this little camera. There is no way I could get them looking this good without it. I did two major things in Lightroom – added David duChemin’s Lightroom 4 preset Honey on Land which turned the really purple and white flowers into rich pink and gold colors. Next I used the Lens Correction panel set to Color and manually defringed this image. It had some pretty bad yellow fringing going on. To fix this, the Remove Chromatic Aberration box was checked, and using the Fringe Selector Tool, the yellow area was clicked as a starting place. The final Amount for the Green Hue was 3 and the Green Hue tabs were set to 0/19. Unfortunately ACR does not have a Fringe Selector Tool but you can manually manipulate the defringe sliders and get very good results. This feature alone is one of the reasons you should upgrade to Lightroom 4 or Photoshop CS6. Now I will get off my soapbox.
Photoshop is where the burning and dodging magic come in to play. Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify 4′s Watercolor II preset was applied. In an added layer mask, most of the flowers were painted back using a low opacity brush to reduce the effect of the filter on these areas. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer were added with some slight changes to the Reds and Yellows to bring back a bit of the purplish color. Next French Kiss Studio 3 Botanique2 watercolor texture was added and set to 70% at Normal blend mode. In a layer mask, the flowers were lightly painted back but the background retained the greenish colors. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add back the contrast lost with the texture.
The next step is the Burning and Dodging tip that comes from John Paul Caponigro, one of the best users of Photoshop to create fine art and a total Photoshop guru, in a course he offers called Drawing with Light – 21st Century Dodging and Burning (Kelby Training also has the tutorial if you are a member – this DVD is excellent covering many topics to improve your images). To add the burn effect to an image, a New Layer is created and set to Overlay blend mode. With a black soft-edged brush, paint over any areas or edges that need a little more separation. I like to use a very low opacity brush around 12% or less, but John Paul likes to use 100% and back it off completely.
The reason I love this method is that it is easy to erase a mistake or add a layer mask to reduce the effect. If you make one stroke too dark, just go to Edit ->Fade and reduce its strength. Also the layer opacity can be reduced if the total result is too much – you may only need a 15-20% layer opacity to get the effect. If you have a lot of changes and want to Dodge some areas, create another New Layer set to Overlay and use the same brush set to white. Be careful not to overdo this – it is easy to do. The white paint seems to really stand out. But it is a very easy way to direct the eye to the important parts of the image. Remember the layer is set to an Overlay blend mode which means that anything greater than 50% gray brightens the image, and anything darker than 50% gray darkens it. Therefore, when black is painted over the darker areas of the image, only the dark areas are being affected – the lighter areas stay the same. When dodging with white, only the lighter areas are being affected. One thing to watch out for is that the Overlay blend mode tends to increase saturation, so make sure this is not happening. May need to use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to desaturate slightly. The last step for this image involved adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring in some overall contrast to the image. Textures can tend to flatten out an image.
This image is of a little tiny hard pod or flower growing on my Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum plant. A macro shot was taken of the flower with filtered light from the south facing window that gives a really soft background feel. Before doing any darkening on this image, it was processed in Lightroom using just the Basic sliders. Next in Photoshop, Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4′s BuzSim III preset was applied. 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Amour texture was then applied twice. First time it was set to Overlay blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Second time it was set to Multiply at 100% opacity and the flower was lightly painted out in a layer mask. Finally the a New Layer was created and set to Overlay. In this case, the top of the pod was getting lost in the yellow of the leaf behind it and needed a little more definition. With a soft black lower opacity brush, the top of the pod was painted back to reveal the edge more clearly.
I have used this technique for several years now and still find it the best for localized dodging and burning. This technique is a totally non-destructive to the image, and I think the results are far superior to the other methods out there. Definitely on the top of my favorite techniques. Give it a try and see if you like the technique!…..Digital Lady Syd
Just realized that I am starting my third year of blogging today! How appropriate that I am back to processing an image from the beginning. This is an image of a beautiful church along a busy highway in the Belarusian countryside. It was post-processed in Lightroom 4 following the workflow below. Since Adobe has released Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6, many of the sliders were updated and are much improved from their earlier versions. I finally got a chance to check out Scott Kelby’s training and book to learn about what had changed and what works quick in the new versions. Scott probably has the best Camera Raw workflow out there for both programs and this blog attempts to show how he does it. His The Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Digital Photographers book goes through all these steps very thoroughly. His CS6 book is great, but do not use it as the go-to book for everything there is to know about Photoshop – it is definitely targeted to digital photographers and photo problems. Check out Scott Kelby’s Photoshop for Travel Photographers excellent video where he covers what I am doing in this blog and more. The image above is a good example of his workflow. (Details for the above image include: White Balance – Temp slider moved left to get bluish feel; Exposure set to -0.59, Contrast +49, Highlights -100 to bring out sky, Shadows +37, Whites -16, Blacks -6, Clarity +71 for details, Vibrance +33, and Neutral Density Gradient with Exposure set to -0.80. In Photoshop a clean up layer was used to get rid of power lines and pole. Some sharpening was added and My Thin Double Edge Frame was applied with colors sampled from the image.)
The Camera Raw sliders were designed to be used from top to bottom.
1. Look at the White Balance – your Tint and Temperature sliders. If you are shooting outside with a DSLR, the white balance may not be an issue. Try checking out the White Balance drop-down options too. If image shot on a cloudy day, it may really improved the results. Use presets below to get same White Balance options for a JPEG file as for a RAW file. It can also be used creatively as in the blue-toned image above.
For Lightroom 4 users: Matt Kloskowsky of Lightroom Killer Tips fame created a some time ago a set of White Balance presets that still work great since only the Temp and Tint sliders are changing – just download them to get a quick look at how each White Balance setting appears on your image in the Navigator. For ACR users: create your own presets by selecting a White Balance from the drop-down menu in the Basic section, then go to the Preset section (2nd icon from right) and click on folder icon at bottom – name White Balance Shade for example, choose subset White Balance, and say OK. It will appear in your preset list. Can now quickly click on each preset to see how the White Balance adjustment will look on your image. Be sure to make a preset for As Shot so you can return to your original settings if you want.
2. Next check out the Exposure and Contrast sliders. If image looks a little washed out, use the Contrast slider. If all check out here, you do not have to use the Highlights, Shadows, Whites or Blacks sliders. The new Exposure slider now controls mostly midtones and includes the old Recovery slider (Exposure slider in CS5/Lightroom 3 covered both midtones and highlights) so adjusting this slider can really enrich the color tones.
3. Go to your Highlights Slider and move left to bring back detail in the sky. This slider is almost always used in this way. There was no Highlights slider in CS5 or Lightroom 3. Next the Shadows slider is brought to the right to bring out detail in the image. If you go all the way to +100, you will probably have to go to the next step as your image will look flat in the Shadows. This slider basically replaced the Fill Light slider in the CS5/Lightroom 3 versions.
4. The Blacks and Whites sliders are for fine tuning and you do not always need to use them. Try them just to see if an adjustment helps. If there is clipping in the image as shown by looking at the Histogram top corners (if they are colors, you have clipping), then adjust them to get rid of either the shadow clipping or whites clipping. By clicking on the triangle in the corner, you can see in red on the image where the clipping is occurring. Now you set negative numbers for these sliders.
5. Next one of the most important and most improved sliders in Camera Raw – the Clarity Slider. Totally revamped from CS5 and Lightroom 3, this slider now can be cranked up very high without halo effects. It is used to increase the Midtone Contrast in an image. Use this on any image that has details, especially landscapes, buildings, metal objects. Do not use it on people or puppies!
6. Now it is time to finish up with Vibrance. Do not use the Saturation slider. The Vibrance will only affect the duller colors in your image, not the ones that are already as bright as you want them or any of flesh tones. Saturation will increase all color equally.
….. This yellow flower/plant taken at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island in Hawaii was a very simple image to adjust in Camera Raw. No change to White Balance, Exposure set to -.06, Contrast +45, Highlights -100, Shadows +80, Clarity +39 and Vibrance +37. Since the green background color was a little overwhelming, in the HSL section’s Saturation sliders, the Green slider was set t0 -57, Yellow +19 to brighten this color, and Orange set to +41. Usually you do not have to go to these colors, but sometimes it is needed to individually tweak a color you want. I also used a little Noise Reduction moving the Luminance slider to 25. The last step was to add some vignetting going to the Effects section and selecting Post-Crop Vignetting – Style Highlight Priority and Amount to -22. Scott says this creates a better vignette than the one in Lens Correction. I did not like the crop of the image, so for some reason in Photoshop I cropped and removed spots. Next Scott’s Spotlight Effect, a really easy technique to follow and is the first thing he covers in his video, was used. The Unsharp Mask Filter was applied and it done!
…..This image of the Manta Roller Coaster at SeaWorld Orlando definitely was in need of work – it was way underexposed! I liked this image as the coaster has what looks like whale tales around it and you can see the people through the screen on the coaster. To correct the underexposure issue, the White Balance was changed to Daylight just to lighten the sky up so it looks like it did when the shot was taken. Next the Exposure Slider was set to +1.57, then Contrast was set to to -53. Now the people on the ride can at least be seen! Setting the Highlights to -100 brought out the cloud details beautifully. Setting the Shadows to +100 brought out the detail in the coaster and green bushes. Since there is no clipping in the image, the Blacks and White do not need to be adjusted. I tried the Whites slider and it did make the clouds a little whiter when set to +35, so that is what I did. The Blacks slider was set to +25 to make the whole image look a little brighter. Then I realized both had clipped colors by looking at the Histogram top corners. The Whites slider was changed to +22 and Blacks to +76 to get rid of the clipping. Now it is time to add clarity – it was set to +100 to bring out detail. The Vibrance slider was set to +59. And that is how you open up an extremely underexposed image! For this image, I decided to add the vignetting in Photoshop since the emphasis is off center. There also was some clean up work to do since there was debris in the screen I shot through.
…..This final image is of a beautiful old church in the town of Sterling in Scotland as taken from high above at Sterling Castle. Once again the same workflow above was used. I just went down the list of sliders and set my Highlights back and Shadows up, added Contrast, Clarity and Vibrance. This time a Gradient Adjustment reducing the Exposure and Shadow sliders a small amount to bring out the clouds a little. Some Luminance and checked Enable Profile Corrections. A vignette was added. In Photoshop Scott’s Spotlight Effect was added. There was bright orange construction material around the hospital so I used Replace Color and changed it to brown. A black layer mask was added and the orange color was painted out. Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail’s Bold Detail was applied and then once again a black layer mask was added and just the building was painted back with the detail. My Thin Double Edge Frame was added to finish up.
I hope you are able to see how easy it is to use the new Camera Raw sliders and realize that you hardly have to do anything in Photoshop anymore. I really love the fact that it is getting easier to get very high quality results with images that aren’t so high quality and very quickly!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
I Didn’t Know That! Converting Lightroom Preset to Adobe Camera Raw Preset
Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script
I am constantly amazed at how some of my images turn out – not at all what I had expected. This week I am going to go through my photo art workflow step-by-step so you can see what a difference a little tweaking will do. One of my favorite image types to play with in Photoshop are shots of art works. It is a nice break from cleaning up photos of family and large travel landscapes and gives me the opportunity to be creative. This image is of a type of art I had never heard of before that is on display at my favorite local museum – the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. These are examples of Victorian era cigar band art. The Photoshop-processed image above is my final photo art result and the one I liked the best, but there were several other choices I considered.
NOTE: If you want to see the settings used for any of the steps, just click on the image and the larger Flickr image will appear.
- Here is the initial image as a RAW NEF file. The dishes were enclosed in a glass case and the camera settings were a 44-mm lens at F/4.8, 1/8 sec, and ISO 1250. There is a lot of light glare on the pieces. This image is not one I would normally choose to process, but I just loved the composition of the items and the colors in the cigar bands.
- My next step was to create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom (this does not have to be done if using Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop) to try to clean up the tone a little before going into Photoshop. Since only a few changes were done here, it does not look much different. First I go to the Lens Correction section and select the Profile tab where I set my lens info, and then the Color tab where I check Remove Chromatic Aberration (this can save a lot of time later). The next step would be to adjust the Crop of the image if it needs it – in this case it did not. Now adjust the Basic sliders. Also check out the noise in the image and try to correct if needed. Next I right click on the image in Lightroom and select “Edit In -> Edit in Adobe Photoshop CS6″ which now opens up Photoshop, if it is not already open, with your image.
- I am a big fan of combining my plug-ins until I get just the effect I like. If I do not like what results, I just delete that layer and try again. I always duplicate the background first so I know what the image looked like to start. On a really difficult image, which I considered this one to be, I usually will first open up Nik Color Efex Pro 4 – they have so many filters, you can sometimes get a great look right away. Shown below are stacked filters Tonal Contrast, which I believe is one of the best filters in this plug-in; Pro Contrast, which is one of my personal favorites, and works wonders on many of the images I have processed; and Brilliance/Warmth, one of the most popular Color Efex filters – just adds a really soft warmth to an image. Usually I like the Detail Extractor, but it really looked bad on this image due to all the glare on the items. Note that before entering the plug-in, I created a Smart Object (right click on your duplicated layer in Layer Panel and select Convert to Smart Object in menu) as Nik plug-ins work very well with Smart Objects. It allows you to go back into the plug-in and all settings and control points will still be in place so they can be readjusted easily.
- Since there is so much glare in this image, there is only one plug-in I know of that does a good job controlling it and that is my most used plug-in, Nik Viveza 2. It will almost always improve if not remove problem areas on an image. You can see I have added 10 control points on the glare areas (click on image to see the little round circles more clearly in Flickr) to try to even out the tone. By comparing to the above, it is not perfect, but what a difference it makes! The detail and saturation of the image is also much improved. (See my blog Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!)
- Still have issues where the glare is – it needs to be cleaned up and the pink removed since it draws your eye into the left corner and it is distorted by the glare. The Color Replacement Tool was used to turn the pink color turquoise (see settings used in Options Bar in photo and turquoise foreground color in swatch) and some cloning was done on the dish to even out the pattern where the glare blows out the detail. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get rid of another pink hot spot. I usually try to work completely non-destructively (meaning the original image was not changed by any of the adjustments made on the layers above), but the Color Replacement Tool is destructive and changes are made on the image itself – the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer may have been a better choice for this problem area.
- I always add or at least try to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast towards the end of my workflow. Since I thought I was almost done, it seemed appropriate to add it now. Below is what my curve looked like for this image. I usually just drag the Hand Tool (located in the upper lefthand corner of the panel) in the image to get this correct. It usually is just a subtle change but very significant. In this case I only wanted to brighten up the plate and mug where the color was located, not enhance where the glare was. The Curves Adjustment layer mask was turned black by clicking on the mask and CTRL+I to invert the color from white to black. Then a soft 30% opacity brush was set to white and used to gently paint back the areas where the I wanted additional contrast and color. This was a good point to create a composite layer that combines all the layers below into one on top by clicking (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) – this helps when the number of layers gets large as some techniques need a single layer to work correctly – this can especially be a problem with the Clone Tool.
- At this point I thought I was getting the image to a final look. I decided I wanted sort of a vintage type edge on the image, so I used one of my very favorite textures, ShadowHouse Creations Old Photo 6. After trying several blend modes, I selected the Exclusion blend mode (which I do not use that much but worked in this case) set to 53% opacity. Still not sure it was quite what I wanted so I decided to add one of his new Assorted Mask Overlay (08) and set it to Soft Light blend mode at 100% opacity. Basically just the beautiful edges were used on both layers, and the image center was mainly painted out using black in the layer masks to keep the basic image intact. I often use the free Russell Brown Paper Texture Panel to try out and stack the various textures (the green square at the top of the icons to the left of the panels opens it up).
- I must be done???? But then I thought, I wonder what happens if I take this image into the new Topaz photoFXlab (see sidebar for website in my Tidibits Blog). Well that proved to be a problem because I started finding all kinds of new effects I liked on this cleaned up image. The settings below were applied as a first step to the bottom layer for all the different Topaz effects tried on this image.
- I duplicated the bottom layer in the plug-in and applied from the Effects tab a preset called Lithography by H. Hurst (Topaz used the preset from Topaz Detail) and set the layer to 65% opacity. In the Adjustment tab, the Saturation slider was set to 20. The Dodge Brush was used from the Brush tab to whiten around the pupil of the eyes of the girl on the plate using a brush strength of .10. Next the lips were slightly reddened using the Saturation brush. It was saved in the new Topaz extension .pfxl so the settings could be readjusted at a later date if needed. Clicked OK and applied to it to the image in Photoshop. At this point I did create a note to remind myself exactly what I did in the plug-in since I am still learning about the new extension. The image that resulted is shown below.
- To be honest, I just didn’t love the final result so I decided to delete the layer where I applied the photoFXlab plug-in and start over in this plug-in. This time I decided to try out the results using the Plug-in tab and selected Topaz Adjust 5. Here I tried out one of my favorite presets I created from the French Countryside preset in the Vibrant Collection. It looked nice and more like what I wanted. I use this preset a lot when I want a nice artistic feel.
- I decided to try one more preset just to see if I liked it and sure enough, it is the one I selected. It is in the Stylized Collection and is called Painting-Venice. I added several settings in the Finishing Touches section: Transparency – Overall Transparency slider to .7, Color – Warmth 0.03, and Tone – Quad Settings as shown on the image – the correct colors should be set already. Once out of the Adjust plug-in, in the Adjustment tab Exposure was set to 0.38, Contrast to -3 and Dynamics 24.
Well this is a good example of my workflow for a photo art image. I could have used OnOne Software’s wonderful Perfect Effects (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog), or any of the other plug-ins offered by Topaz, but it just depends on what I think will work. Overall the main components are 1) process as discussed above in Lightroom, 2) take into Photoshop and do any clean up, 3) add plug-in effects, 4) add any textures if you want, 5) I always go to Viveza 2 now, 6) do any extra sharpening or noise reduction that might be required, 7) add a Curves Adjustment layer for final tone and contrast, and 8) add any framing. I hope you can see that even though a change is very small, it can be very significant to the photo, and that you can always change your mind. An image can take on such a different feel with different plug-ins and textures applied. I thought originally I wanted a very sharp almost HDR look for this image, but I ended up with a very bright painterly result. I am happy with it but it is not exactly what I had in mind when I started! …..Digital Lady Syd
Since I have reached this major milestone, I decided this week I would show a few examples of what I use the most in Photoshop and what is the most fun for me when using Photoshop. In some of these cases, I will be mentioning certain products or people but that is mainly because I really like what they do – they do not know me. Also, no external plug-ins will be discussed here.
- Photoshop’s Merge to HDR 32-bit ability that can be adjusted in Lightroom 4.1 (see my blog New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability)
- Photoshop’s Puppet Warp magic (see Straightening with Puppet Warp!)
Several things were done in Photoshop to process this image of a sailboat model of the USS Constitution located at The Casements in Ormond Beach, Florida. The most important is that a 32-bit tone-mapped image was created in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR, saved as a TIFF file, and then brought into Lightroom 4.1′s Develop module using the sliders to bring out all the details. This now makes Photoshop’s HDR processing on par with several of the other HDR software programs. The TIFF image goes back into Photoshop to finish up using another one of my favorite tools – Puppet Warp – to straighten out the extreme warping in the original image (it was actually applied twice). It was a difficult image to work on since it has a square glass encasement and the horizontal louvered blinds in the background. Just using the arrow keys is sometimes enough to push and pull the image pins the correct amount and Puppet Warp works much better than Lens Correction or the new Adaptive Wide Angle filters for me. Puppet Warp can be used in a Smart Object for readjusting later if needed.
- Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel for Photoshop CS5 and CS6 (see Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!)
I am slowly really getting into textures – they just do so much for a boring image. The texture above was created using one of the best panels you can apply to Photoshop and that is Dr. Brown’s (may be the top Photoshop guru of all time and works for Adobe) Paper Texture Panel – biggest time saver for anyone that likes to experiment with textures! This is one feature I use all the time and can’t believe I used to go through my textures individually to try them out. To really enhance this process, create a folder on your desktop that contains several sub-folders to place copies of your favorite textures. He recommends keeping these folders to around 20 textures as it takes a while to load if it is much bigger. I have sub-folder on textures I created, my favorite textures I use all the time, and a few on textures I have downloaded or bought. You can switch folders very quickly in the panel. This image used Paul Grand’s Scratches Texture and Gavin Hoey’s beautiful grunge frame 1. I am also putting a plug in here for my favorite texture guy, ShadowHouse Creations, who offers all kinds of beautiful textures for free, and I use them all the time. I reference his textures in many of my older blogs.
- Photoshop Brushes including the wonderful Mixer Brushes! (see Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes)
Those wonderful brushes in Photoshop! My very first blog featured the above image where I actually used a Photoshop Mixer Brush to paint in the petals of the flowers. This is still one of my favorite painted images – the Oleander flowers in the original were not near as pretty. The background was a Karen Sperling texture called 08Sperling (I believe this now has to be purchased – not sure how I got it) that added was a very delicate complement to the image. She is actually a Corel Painter Master and does some wonderful things in that program.
- The Curves Adjustment Layer (see I Didn’t Know That! Curves Adjustment Layers)
Totally indispensable! The last step I always do before I save an image. A few months ago I viewed a short video tutorial at Kelby Training called Mastering Curves: Adjusting Tonality by Ben Wilmore, another great Photoshop guru, who teaches how to use Curves correctly. (I have found the Kelby Training tutorials to be the best you can find on every aspect of photography and photoshop.) The basic thing to know about Curves is that by selecting the hand tool in the top left of the adjustment panel and dragging straight up in the image it lightens it up, and down darkens it. If you get two dots close and rather flat on a Curve line, you will lose detail. A black layer mask can be created to target just the areas you want changed. It is a pretty simple technique but can improve an image quickly. Also you can save Curve settings if you want to apply them again. The image above of the beautiful birds in the Spring at the Rookery used several Curves Adjustment Layers to match the tones for the composite.
- Layer Styles to create simple framing effect (see Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames).
I have been using this Double Edge Frame layer style a lot on my images – gives a nice clean look with colors that can be sampled from the image. Also plain black borders can easily be created. To download this layer style for free or directions on how to create it, see my blog referenced above. There are many other uses for layer styles that I love, but I use the frames the most. Also a couple textures were added here with Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel.
- Smart Objects (see Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image)
I love the way you can go back in and fix your settings if you do not like the way they look. Most of the plug-ins I use have Smart Object capability and this is why I use them. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back into Nik’s Viveza 2 and adjusted my control points! Just another great Photoshop feature. The image above of the Hilton Time Share swimming pool on the Big Island in Hawaii used Smart Objects for both the Nik HDR Efex Pro using Granny’s Attic preset and Viveza 2. Also two Curves Adjustment Layers were used.
I could go on and on about all my favorite features I love. The above are some of the ones I use the most. I thought about writing on the new Defringe section in Lightroom 4.1 and Adobe Camera Raw that works wonders on this problem – better than any of the noiseware software available for controlling the ugly fringe problem. The new sliders in both are much improved and both now do a great job on reducing noise too. Also the Graduated Filter is much improved. Back in Photoshop I love being able to use LAB mode to sharpen some of my images selectively. Content-Aware tools cannot be beat but I still use the plain old Clone Tool the most. And the improved Sharpen Tool is fabulous for those little areas that need a detail boost. I even love the Color Replacement Tool that hardly no one uses! And all the blend modes just add so much to an image. Needless to say, there is a lot to like about Photoshop and so many ways to do things. I guess the real fun is learning new ways to use it and that is why I blog! Hope you have enjoyed some of what I have learned these past couple years!…..Digital Lady Syd
This topic has always interested me. There has been so much written on this so I am not going to go over all of it. I have found that for me a little trial-and-error works as good as anything when it comes to this type of processing. Luckily in Lightroom there are presets that will give you a quick look to see how an image will stack up as a monochrome type image, and there are many black and white presets for Photoshop’s ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) that can be downloaded. The St. Augustine, Florida lamp lights RAW file had a really bright blue background and very black wrought iron with little detail. By converting to more of a sepia tone, the detail came out very clear. The really interesting thing is that to get the detail to pop out of the ironwork, an Invert Adjustment Layer set to Soft Light Blend Mode at 92% opacity was used.
When an image just seems overwhelmed by color and I am having trouble controlling the feel, applying a black and white conversion or introducing a slight color effect can calm down the whole image. That is what happened in the above image that was taken near the summit of the large volcano, Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii, of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (apparently to be dismantled in 2016) where the Keck Telescope is also located. The little observatory was lost from view in both the strong browns of the surrounding dirt and foreground gravel and the soft blues of the Mauna Loa volcano in the background and the sky. It was processed totally in Lightroom using the Basics section sliders and a preset I had created from reading David duChemin’s book Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I call it the duChemin Massai Chocolate split-tone & vignette preset. Only those two sections of Lightroom 3 were used to create the preset so it still works with Lightroom 4. In Split Toning the Highlights Hue was set to 34 and Saturation t0 30, Shadows Hue was 0 and Saturation 6, and the Balance slider was set to -25. In the Lens Correction section’s Manual tab, the Lens Vignetting Amount slider was set to -63 and the Midpoint to 18. I have used this preset several times as it has a very nice subtle tonal appeal. That was basically all that was done to make this a much more interesting image.
Another one of my favorite images from Hawaii but once again, the detail would have been lost if it had been processed as taken. The original RAW file had very little detail in the rising hillside and water and the color was totally dull – almost a flat-looking black and white. By converting it to a nice cool water tone, the image takes on new life. The image has several filters stacked in Nik Color Efex Pro 4: BW Conversation using Dynamic Contrast method, Photo Stylizer which give it the beautiful blue glow using Method 1 at 28% Strength, Low Key, Lighten/Darken Center, and Detail Extractor using 7 control points to selectively bring out the details in the image. Nik Viveza 2, Imagenomics Noiseware filter, and OnOne PhotoFrame were also used to complete the image.
Here is another example of a very busy and overly bright image that really loses its appeal in color. Since it is the oldest drugstore (built in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1739) in the United States, it already has a that vintage feel to it. Therefore a sepia tone really adds to the effect the image should be portraying. This image was an HDR image taken in bright sunlight during the hottest part of the day. It was processed into a black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, the the background original was layered on top and a black layer mask was added to bring back a hint of color in the windows. Topaz Lens Effects was used to add a slight vignette effect, and finally OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controlled 05 was added. For both Topaz and OnOne website links, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.
It appears that if you have a really nice image but the colors just do not create the correct effect, or if the image gets lost in all the powerful colors or brightness of the day, give the black and white or sepia tones a shot. You do not have to have one of the mentioned filters – Photoshop has a wonderful Black and White Adjustment layer that also adds any monochrome color. Great way to get a quick impression of whether this effect will work on your image. Definitely do not write off an image just because of color issues – it may turn out to be a great shot!…..Digital Lady Syd
This new feature is taking the Photoshop world by storm! What a great new addition to Lightroom’s 4.1 upgrade. If you have Lightroom 4, you have got to try this. Matt Kloskowski, one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys, created a nice short video, A New HDR Feature in Lightroom 4.1, on how to process your images using the Merge to HDR in Photoshop, and then bringing the 32-bit tonemapped image back into Lightroom to use with the camera raw sliders. The image above is from the Hilton Waikoloa Village – some of the unusual art that is in this complex. After processing the 32-bit image using Lightroom sliders, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied within Lightroom using these filters: Detail Extractor adding (+) control points on only the sculpture itself, Midnight using Neutral mode, and BiColor User Defined Preset 02 Brown/Pink and using (-) control points on the sculpture. The image was taken back into Photoshop (now as a 16-bit psd file) to add OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controller 06 (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog), which could have also been added in Lightroom. The Nik plug-in could have been added in Photoshop and a Smart Object used to save the setting – instead I created a Note in Photoshop to recall how the settings were used used in Lightroom.
What is absolutely amazing about this addition to Lightroom is that the images are so sharp and clear with little noise especially in the skies like you get with the other HDR processes. It is totally amazing that neither of these images had any sharpening or noise reduction applied. Wow!
Here is my first attempt at creating a 32-bit image using three bracketed images hand-held of the beach on the perimeter of the Hilton Waikoloa Village – not a very good place to sunbathe but nice and breezy. No other plug-ins were applied to this photo. I was major happy how clear and sharp this image came out. The frame was created using the layer style instructions for my Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames – colors can be sampled from image and changed out easily.
What is happening here is that inside Lightroom you select your bracketed images, right click and Edit In – Merge to HDR. This opens up the HDR program in Photoshop where set the tonemap setting to 32-bit, not 16-bit. Next check the Remove Ghosts box. Close and if you do not have your Preferences set up in Lightroom to save your HDR’s as TIFF’s, you need to do a Save As, name file, and select TIF as your format to bring back into Lightroom. Once back in Lightroom you are free to use all the sliders available to create the look you want on the 32-bit image. The image can be taken back into Photoshop to add your framing or plug-ins if you want, where it is now back at 16-bit mode.
I am still amazed how great these images are looking. This image is of some colorful plants at the entrance to the Lightner Museum, in the old Alcazar Hotel, St. Augustine, Florida. After processing as a 32-bit image in Photoshop and bringing back into Lightroom, the image was taken back into Photoshop and the new Topaz photoFXlab v1.1 plug-in (see sidebar for website in my Tidbits Blog) was opened and the Dynamics slider applied at 55. I also removed a very small amount of noise with Imagenomics Noiseware. This is my free Thin Double Edge layer style frame (see link above) with colors sampled from the image and that was it. This image is incredibly clear!
My last example once again was processed in Lightroom as a 32-bit hand-held HDR. I did apply a little Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Detail Extractor to the gargoyle only to sharpen it a little. No noise reduction was applied, only my Thin Double Edge Frame layer style applied to the image. Very easy. This image was taken at Flagler College (the old Ponce de Leon Hotel) in St. Augustine, Florida.
I am going to have to go back through my old HDR images and update them. This process is totally amazing if you want a very natural HDR look. Wonderful new feature! It is a pretty easy procedure to follow and the results are definitely worth keeping!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
32-Bit HDR Using Lightroom and CS6
Thought I would keep it simple this week so here are some nice templates that can be created in Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4. This image is basically a 4-image triptych. It was a lot of fun playing with the different flower effects but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the images after I finished them - as it turned out, this Lightroom template created a nice way to show them off! If you have ever played around in the Print Module of Lightroom, then you can see it is not too hard to create this type of template and then save the resulting image in the Print Job section as a “Print to JPEG File.” And this is one of the reasons I like processing my images in Lightroom over just using Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) in Photoshop.
For processing of the yellow dahlias in Photoshop:
1st image: Just lightened up the image and applied two Flypaper Textures – Chatsworth Taster and Apple Blush Taster using Russel Brown Texture Panel. (See my blog Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!)
2nd image: Topaz Black and White Effects. See side panel of my Tidbits Blog for website link.
3rd image: Used Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 and stacked these filters – Film Efex Vintage using Film Type 8, Colorize using Method 6 and a light blue color, and Vignette Blur using Type 3. I loved the dreamy look these filters created.
4th image: Used two different Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers and two Curves Adjustments Layers and with their layer masks, selectively painted out areas to get the effect I wanted.
This group of images was put together in Lightroom 3 a couple years ago – these signs are from the Jacksonville Landing along the St. Johns River in Florida during one of Scott Kelby’s PhotoWalks (if you get a chance, go do one – they are free and a great way to meet local photo types like yourself). Photoshop Guy Matt Kloskowski, who runs the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips website and blog (it is the best one on Lightroom you will find), offered a free Lightroom Print Preset – Multi-Photo Portrait Grid. I used it here although I had some trouble lining up all the photos the way he did since I use a Canon printer and not an Epson (it uses a page set up which makes it line up different). Still I was able to get this result which I think turned out rather nice.
Here is another example of using the above preset from Matt to create a little different appearance. A trick to adjusting your image inside the cell once placed is to remember to hold down the CTRL key so the cursor turns into the Hand Tool. You can send unused cells to the back by right clicking in the cell. Also, it is best to create a Quick Collection of the images you think you might want to use (click the little circle in the upper right corner in the Library module) so that they are all in one place for adding to the template. All these images are from previous posts – all but the boat image were done using just Photoshop brushes creatively. (See my blogs Brushing up on Circles!, Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures and Tree Brushes and a Little Grunge.
The instructions on how to do the above template are in Scott Kelby’s The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers where he takes you through the process step by step. He also shows you how to make the top template along with several others. His Lightroom books are the best!
I did a Tidbits Blog a while back called Five Image Template Creates Beautiful Collection! that shows another way to do this with templates in Photoshop.
Also I did a free download timeline template for Facebook a couple weeks ago that uses Photoshop to add seven photos as your header – see
Free Timeline Cover Template for Seven of Your Images. An example of how this turns out is shown below.
Lightroom and even Photoshop makes it really fun to show off your images and both use very similar techniques. Sometimes just printing the one image does not look quite right, but putting several in a template as shown in these examples can get some really nice results…..Digital Lady Syd
I have always wanted to try this technique, so I finally got up the courage to see if I could get something interesting without actually taking an old camera and converting it for infrared picture taking. Maybe sometime I will do this, but right now I am having fun using all my Photoshop tricks to get what I think is a reasonable infrared look. Most infrared images have a small amount of graininess and glow in them. Trees appear white and skies very dark – can produce very surreal effects. There are many techniques that do this, so I will cover just a few that I like.
Technique One – the Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer
The image above is of Laupahoehoe Harbor (link to the tsunamis that hit this area in 1946 and 1960) and is actually one of my favorite color images from my trip to the Big Island. Since infrared photography does well with landscapes that have blue skies with white clouds and nice green foregrounds, I thought I would try this image first.
I used a technique that I learned a while back from Photoshop TV (Episode 41) where the Photoshop Guys say it takes the blue color in an image and makes them really dark, and the greens and makes them really light. This is a pretty simple explanation, but I believe it created a very true infrared look. Below are the steps used in Photoshop:
1. Open a landscape image that has sky, clouds, trees, grass – something similar to the above.
2. Add a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer and check Monochrome box, which converts the image to a black and white. Use these numbers to start with:
Green +60 (many resources say start with +200)
Blue – Move until you get a nice dark sky – then readjust the greens to a lighter amount
Adjust the Reds – foreground gets more contrast and lightens up
3. Create a composite layer – CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E.
4. For this step you need to make sure your Foreground color is set to white (it took me forever to figure this out – my glow kept coming out orange-duh) and your image is in 8-bit mode (Adjust -> Mode -> 8 bit) for this filter to work.
5. Run the Distort -> Diffuse Glow and use these slider settings: Graininess (adds noises to image) 2; Glow Amount 2; and Clear Amount (detail visible) 10-12. (In Scott Kelby’s book referenced below, he suggest Graininess set to 3, Clear Amount 15, and move Glow Amount until you just get a glow without blowing out the highlights.)
There is a built-in Black and White Infrared preset in the Channel Mixer that you can try, but it makes the sky too light where it should have a nice dark look. After creating this image, I spent a few minutes looking in other resources for more information. Scott Kelby’s The Photoshop Channels Book has a small chapter on the above. He states “…..in infrared, if they (the Red, Green and Blue sliders) don’t add up to 100%, you’ll have a tint when you’re done.” On my image above, I used Red (+61), Green (+200) and Blue (-163) and Constant (-18). The Constant slider can be lowered to keep the whites from being so blown out, which I noticed in my image. I found I did not like the Diffuse Glow on any of my images so I did not use it (it was making the whites murky-looking if Diffuse Glow Amount is set above 1).
Technique Two – Using the Black and White Adjustment Layer
This dreamy image was actually taken in Hawaii along the road to Waipi’o Valley even though the Infrared effect makes it look like the U.S. New England coast in winter. I started with the Infrared preset in the Black and White Adjustment Layer drop-down field and just started moving sliders until I got that dark sky (blue slider set to -34) and white trees (green slider set to +241 and don’t forget the yellow +195 and red -40 sliders too). To get the really pretty glow I could not get with the Photoshop filter, I ended up using Glamour Glow in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 with the Glow Amount set all the way up at +100. Then back in Photoshop, I painted out on a white layer mask using a black brush some of the areas that were overdone. The Glamour Glow filter really added the dreamy feel I wanted for this image.
Technique Three – Nik Color Efex Pro’s Infrared Film Filter
This filter is why I decided to write a blog on Infrared imaging. The large tropical plants were along the pathway to Akaka Falls on the Big Island in Hawaii. The actual color image does not show off the plant leaf structure as nicely as the infrared effect does. It is interesting to see that the really bright green leaves look very light in this image, but as the tone of green goes darker, the leaves go much darker. This image stacked the Infrared Film filter (Method 2, Lighten Highlight 24, Brightness 30, Contrast 91, and Shadows 67); Detail Extractor filter (Detail Extractor 41, Contrast 69, Saturation -12, and Normal mode with the Overall Opacity slider set to 3% and + Control Points set in the middle bottom and trees on upper right to improve the detail in these areas only); and Glamour Glow filter (Glow 27, Saturation -27, Glow Warmth 0, Shadows 41 and Highlights 44). This image definitely has the soft glow effect and a little graininess that is characteristic of the Infrared look.
Technique Four: Use a Lightroom Infrared Preset
This one took me by surprise – I did not think it would work that great but as it turns out, it did a pretty nice job without much adjusting. (Click on image to see original color shot on Flickr.) You must have Lightroom to use this preset that can be downloaded from the Adobe Exchange and is called GA B&W infrared 01. The power in this preset lies in the Camera Calibration settings where the Tint is set at -100 (towards the green side) and the Blue Primary Hue is very negative – this all helps give the infrared look. I mainly went into the B&W panel since the preset uses it and adjusted my blues, reds and yellows a little; adjusted the Tone Curve by dragging in the image until I got the look I liked; and then added a small dark vignette to the edges. I “Edited a copy with Lightroom Adjustments in Photoshop” where WOW-Frame 09 layer style was added and that was it. (All the above images used this frame – see my Tidbits Blog Let’s Focus on OnOne’s Focus Point 2 – Nice Little Plug-in!) Very easy.
Thought I would add this image just to show you that the infrared look can be used on something other than a landscape – this was using the Lightroom preset also. (Click on image to see original color shot on Flickr.) I think what I learned is that the image must have pretty striking blues and greens to get the look. Infrared images can get a very cluttered look if you are not careful – I had a hard time making sure you could really see what the image was showing. There were several images that just did not turn out at all so it does take some practice to get it right. It seems easy to destroy the quality of the image – lots of noise shows up or edges get blurred so that can be hard to control also.
My bottom line is use the Lightroom preset on a Virtual Copy if you think you might want to try infrared on an image. If it looks pretty good after playing with the sliders a bit, take it into Photoshop and try the other methods or plug-ins to see if you can get a better look. Personally, almost everything I tried with the Lightroom preset looked nice with some adjusting. I am not sure I love the infrared effect but if I decided to use it, that is probably the method I will use. Hope this little analysis helped a few of you out – there is so much out there on infrared photography but I believe the methods above are the easiest ways to get good result in Photoshop. Give it a try…..Digital Lady Syd
This image of the Old State Capitol Building (circa 1837 to 1903) in Jackson, Mississippi, was taken at sunset. It turned out not to be that great an image to work on but the Topaz Black and White Effect Photoshop plug-in (see link in sidebar at Tidbits Blog) using a Van Dyke Collection preset to create my own vintage feel preset created a much better image. Below is how the image looked before processing. The cloud image was taken from my backyard in the morning in May and had to be flipped to get the effect of the sun’s light on the right edges of the clouds to match the sunset light on the Capitol Building. A layer mask was added to the sky image to fit it into the sky correctly and set to 86% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer may need to be added to get the correct tone in the sky. Be sure to change out the sky before running any plug-ins or filters on the image.
All these images just used a new sky image posted above the original. A layer mask was then added and the sky was painted out where you do not need it. I find it easier to begin by making the layer mask black by holding the ALT button while clicking on the layer mask icon in the Layer Panel (or press CTRL+I while clicking on a white mask) – then paint in white to bring in the sky. Usually I set the opacity of the sky layer down a little to make it blend in naturally with the original image.
This beautiful daisy was processed in the new Lightroom 4 Beta that came out last week. I really love the way it looks. (For more on this, see my Tidbits Blog “Trying Out Lightroom 4 Beta” – this image uses the same flower with a slightly different texture for the background). I wanted to show that you do not have to use an actual image for the sky effect, although if you are doing a very realistic image you would. In this case the flower has a very light painterly look and by combining it with this beautiful texture by Shadowhouse Creations called Marshmellow Skies, the total effect is enhanced. OnOne PhotoFrame emulsion 21 was added to finish. (See sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for a website link.)
This bright image of a caboose in Madison, Mississippi, originally had a totally washed out whitish sky – it actually washed out all the beautiful red and green color in the image. An bright blue sky with puffy clouds image taken in Mount Dora, Florida, replaced the original sky and it gave a totally different feel to the image. OnOne’s PhotoFrame grunge 11 was added and that was it. (This image was also used in my blog called “Different Images-Same Look Using HDR!” if you want more information how this image was processed.)
The Smithsonian Building was a Photoshop CS5 HDR image from 3 exposures. This created some really ugly almost engraved looking indistinct clouds. Therefore I took a clouds jpeg image that had that great blue color and some interesting clouds to use as a background. It definitely enhanced the image. (See my Tidbits Blog “Where Am I?” for more information on this photo and how it was processed.)
This technique can really save an image that was taken at the brightest time of day with no clouds present or with the sky blown out because of the sun placement or HDR processing. It is really handy to have a folder set up with some of your favorite sky scenes. I take a lot of sky images, especially when I see clouds that look unusual or interesting. It does not matter whether the files are in RAW or jpeg format which is nice since my little Canon only does jpegs. Give this a try and see if you do not get some fabulous results by just replacing a washed out sky…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Fun With Clouds – Brush Them In to Add Some Interest
I decided to do something different for this week’s post since I love Photoshop and am constantly on the hunt for the best and cheapest items to make it more fun. The following items are some real treasures I have found in the last year that might help you find that perfect little gift for the person who loves to dabble in Photoshop. (For books and prices listed, see Amazon.com.)
DIGITAL LADY SYD’S BEST INEXPENSIVE PHOTOSHOP FINDS FOR 2011
1. TOPAZ ADJUST 5 ($50)
Since I am such a plug-in lover, simply the best value for the price you will find in the plug-in industry is Topaz Adjust 5 (see my Tidbits Blog for a link to the site). I have written several reviews on this plug-in that was recently upgraded and made even better. Plus, once you buy a plug-in from Topaz, you will always receive the updated versions for free – no other plug-in company does that. Check out my blogs for examples of what this wonderful plug-in can do. (See Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz Adjust 5, Why I Love Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look.) The image in the above middle filmstrip was enhanced using Topaz Adjust 5 in Photoshop, but it also works with Elements.
2. DAVID DUCHEMIN BOOK VISION & VOICE-REFINING YOUR VISION IN ADOBE PHOTOSHOP LIGHTROOM ($25)
Any of David duChemin’s books or E-books (priced at $5.00) are excellent. “Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom”(see Digital Lady Syd’s Favs – Photoshop Books No. 6) has Lightroom tips that can be used with Adobe Camera Raw also. A very enjoyable read for any Photoshop person. The image on the right uses a preset created after reading the book.
3. GAVTRAIN’S BLAST FROM THE PAST ACTION SET ($8.50)
The Blast from the Past Action Set is by Gavin Hoey, a British Photoshop guru. Listed as a great value, these actions are lots of fun to use, but can only be used with Photoshop CS and on and not Elements. I bought them a while ago and use them quite a bit. Great stocking stuffer for the Photoshop Nut. (See my blog “Same Image-Different Look! 6th image down for an example of the Lomo Effect from the set.) The filmstrip is also one of the actions from this set.
4. JIM ZIMMERMAN’S CREATIVE TECHNIQUES WITH NIK SOFTWARE E-BOOK ($9.50)
Creative Techniques with NIK Software downloads as a 79 page .pdf file on the NIK plug-ins, if you have them. Although the book refers to Color Efex Pro 3, it is still very relevant for the new Color Efex Pro 4. It also covers NIK’s Silver Efex Pro 2, Viveza 2 and HDR EFex Pro. Very good information packed into this file.
5. JOHN DERRY MIXER BRUSHES ($20)
Mixer Brush Set contains six very helpful video tutorials on how to use them. These brushes are Photoshop CS5 specific. From my Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes blog, “These brushes are by far the easiest way to get comfortable with the Mixer Brushes and I would highly recommend them if you really like the Mixer Brush effects. In his bundle he includes some textures for the brushes to help get a real painterly look on the image. Also, an action to set up for painting on an image is included and I am still trying this out. What may be the best part of this set is a restore brush that can bring part of the unpainted image back into the painted areas and is totally unique as far as my research indicates.” Needless to say, these are great brushes with great instruction! Great for the artistic Photoshop person.
6. COREY BARKER’S PHOTOSHOP DOWN & DIRTY TRICKS FOR DESIGNERS BOOK ($29)
I do not have this book but I am planning on asking for it for Christmas. Corey is one of the best Photoshop creatives I have ever seen and the book will not disappoint. (For an example of one of his tutorials, see my blog “That Flaming Fire Brush!“)
7. DOVER CLIP ART BOOKS ($10 to $25)
I have used these books for several years and always find lots of fun ways to add them into an image. They have many vintage era, butterfly and flower clip art that is equal to none. Makes for a great addition to any Photoshop fans arsenol. The image on the left uses a sketch from Dover’s Floral Embroidery Designs book.
8. PHOTOSHOP IMPRESSIONISM VIDEO TUTORIAL SERIES DOWNLOAD ($25)
This is a little gem I just discovered. If you like to do artistic looks to your images, this is the information you need. Mark S Johnson has been doing some of the best Photoshop video tutorials for several years – I have learned so much from his expertise and this downloaded information is just an extension of all his knowledge. This would be a great gift for the Photoshop fan!
9. PRESET VIEWER BREEZE PROGRAM ($20)
I would be lost without this Preset Viewer Program. When you need that special brush to load into Photoshop and cannot remember which set is it in, this program will open them up to view within seconds to help you find what you need. Definitely a real time-saver. It also reads patterns, fonts, jpgs, shapes, styles, and swatches. A great addition for speeding up your Photoshop workflow.
I hope that this list will give you a few ideas on getting that special Photoshop person a nice little surprise for Christmas. So much that has to do with Photoshop is expensive and unfortunately that keeps people from being able to explore all the many new techniques out there. These items should help give everyone some new ideas for the coming year. Happy Holidays and Enjoy…..Digital Lady Syd
I ran across this little video by Matt Kloskowski for Lightroom called “The Clarity Super Edgy Trick” but can just as easily be done in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). The following image is an example of the technique.
To get this nice grunge/HDR effect, the following steps need to be done.
- First do adjustments to image and crop size in Lightroom or ACR. Set the Clarity slider to +100 at this time.
- Select the Graduated Filter (G) (11th icon from left at top) and set just the Clarity slider set to +100 (In Lightroom go to the Effect drop-down and choose Clarity – set slider to +100).
- Click and drag at bottom of image so the top line is totally off the image. Clarity at 100% will have been applied again to the whole image. Everything above the green line in ACR or top line in Lightroom is getting the full 100% Clarity so make sure this line is dragged totally off the bottom of image. Hold SHIFT while dragging to keep the line horizontal with image and it is easier to control.
- Repeat Step 3 by creating a new Clarity Graduated Filter and do this as many times as you want. Usually this means 3 or 4 times.
If you want to apply the Clarity to just part of the image, use the Adjustment Brush set to Clarity at +100. The same brush can be applied several times by just creating New Brushes.
In the image of the cupola on the old historic courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia, I started with Matt’s 70′s Look preset in Lightroom (here is the preset for ACR), applied the Clarity slider at +100 in the Basic Module, and then set two Graduated Filters with Clarity set to +100. The image was finally brought into Photoshop and a rather brown colored sky was changed to a blue color using the Color Replacement Tool Brush. (See my Tidbits blog – “Like a Chameleon-The Color Replacement Tool” on how to do this.) I added some clouds using my SJ-Cloud Brushes Set.
Do watch when applying the Clarity Slider to landscapes – a bright sky next to a treeline can look bad as it tapers away from the trees edge. Since Clarity works on contrast at the edges in the midtone areas, if you do not want the grungy look, keep your setting to 40 0r 50 and do not use this technique.
One of my favorite shooting spots in Mesa, Arizona, is this old Buckhorn Motel in the center of town. In this case, the image was adjusted in Adobe Lightroom and the Graduated Filter was also applied twice. The image was processed using OnOne’s Perfect Layers Lightroom plug-in. In Perfect Layers, the image was duplicated with the new layer set to Screen at 52%, a Shadow Creations Another Mixed Texture Set – Texture Seattle was added as a texture layer set to Normal at 88%, and then the Masking Bug Tool was used on it to get the interesting side borders. This can all be done in Photoshop if you wanted to create this same effect without the plug-in. After opening image in Photoshop, a NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0 Tonal Contrast plug-in effect and an OnOne PhotoFrame were added to finalize the look. The tonal contrast could have been adjusted without the plug-in by using a Curves Adjustment Layer and/or Levels Adjustment Layer. Use Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer to pop the color.
The Magnolia Tree pod image was created by applying my Vivid Drawing Look Preset in Lightroom (here is the preset for ACR) first, adjusting the exposure and clarity sliders, running the Graduated Filter three times with Clarity set to +100 and once with Clarity set to +37, and opening it up in Photoshop. Three effects were then added on separate layers to get this final result, all using NIK’s Color Efex Pro 3.0 (Tonal Contrast, Glamour Glow and Vignette Blur effects were applied – they are coming out with a new version shortly so I will report back on this when available). Sharpening and an OnOne PhotoFrame finished up the photo. It gives a very different feel from the two images above.
With this beautiful Great Egret, Matt’s 70′s Look preset was applied (same preset as first image-link to download above). The Adjustment Brush was used to selectively apply the Clarity/Sharpening as too much tends to give the whites a very dirty look. The Adjustment Brush was used with Clarity set to +100 and Sharpen +100. I painted over the head and beak of the bird. I then applied one more new Adjustment brush and painted just the beak and eye area. The image was opened in Photoshop, and NIK Color Efex Pro 3.0 Glamour Glow (default settings) and Brilliance and Warmth effects were applied. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added and that was it. Very easy and the face is very sharp using the Clarity technique in Lightroom or ACR.
I just have too much fun trying out this technique. It is a very easy one to do and the possibilities are many. Try using a couple different settings in the Graduated Filter or Adjustment Brush. Save the Filters as presets (they can then be used for both). I have to hand it to Photoshop Guy Matt Kloskowski for coming up with this interesting technique. Give it a quick try and see what you think…..Digital Lady Syd
I am one of those people that does love the HDR effect and I do wish I always had the tripod at my beckon call, but usually it just does not work that way for me. I have spent a lot of time trying to get an HDR look anyway. My camera takes a good image most of the time, so the challenge is to find the right program/filters to get that HDR effect without all the perfectly matched images. This blog addresses what I have come up with so far and all sections used Photoshop CS5.
HDR Toning Adjustment Mode
The above Green Turtle Cay Beach is an example of a JPEG image. It was processed in Photoshop using HDR Toning Adjustment Mode. It is possible to get a decent HDR effect with a JPEG image but not all images turn out good using this method.
This image had all the ingredients to make a nice HDR image – the beautiful detail on the restaurant and the windows and stone on the surrounding buildings. (All the rest of the images are camera RAW files.) This process usually gives a bit of the surreal look as shown in the above. Recently Scott Kelby released his CS5′s HDR Pro preset called Scott 5 that creates a really great “Pseudo HDR” effect. All of HDR Pro’s preset along with this preset will appear in the HDR Toning Adjustment Layer also. This preset was used here with a small increase of the Highlights slider to bring out the color a little. Otherwise that was it. If you have only a single image with some great detail in it, try out the preset in HDR Toning. The results are considered hit-or-miss and will probably not be as good as using three HDR images. Check out my blog, Different Images-Same Look Using HDR! - HDR Toning for Single Images section, for more information on this adjustment. Also, several of my images in my blog, Why I Love Topaz Adjust, used this technique before applying the Topaz Adjust plug-in.
Shadow and Highlight Adjustment Mode
This image had the great bright colors that I thought might create a really nice HDR effect. Unfortunately, when CS5′s HDR Toning Adjustment Mode was tried, it just did not look right, even with the Scott 5 preset. Some people have had success using the Shadows and Highlights Adjustment Mode, so that effect was used on this image. It took a lot of manipulation of all the sliders in the dialog, but I believe the “Pseudo HDR” look is present, just not as pronounced as with the HDR Toning Adjustment Mode.
The Sharpen Tool
The image above required a lot of prep work before even thinking about adding an HDR feel to it. The antennae had to be cloned out first.The Color Replacement Tool (see my Tidbits blog, Like a Chameleon – The Color Replacement Tool) was used to make the sky a blue – this tool was used since the sky and steeple were so close in color, it would have been hard to get a really clean selection. By using Options Bar settings as follows: the Mode to Color, Sampling Background Swatch (in this case, sampling the beige sky color to set as the Background Color and my new sky color, #c2d0d8, set as the Foreground Color), Limits to Find Edges, Tolerance 15% and Anti-Alias checked, it was pretty fast to paint over just the sky area. I used my SJ-Cloud Brush Set to paint in a couple clouds on a separate layer and created a composite above (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E).
I did not think the other pseudo-HDR techniques would work on this image since it had a rather flat look to it. I also did not want to HDR the clouds that were just added – only wanted the steeple and roof to have the detail effect. This week I listened to a NAPP Grid where Bryan Hughes, Product Manager for Adobe Photoshop, discussed how much the Sharpen Tool had been improved in CS5 and that it now has the best sharpening capability in Photoshop. That gave me the idea to use it for an HDR effect since I only wanted specific areas processed. So that is how this technique began. Select the Sharpen Tool and in Options Bar, set it to Mode Darken and 50% Strength. Paint over all the areas where the HDR look is to be added. Last, add Curves Adjustment Layer to give a little snap to the color. It may not be as effective as a true HDR processed image (the shadows are probably not as opened up as they would be in a true HDR image), but it does have some of the feel.
Lightroom HDR Preset
Many people say that with the correct settings, a decent HDR effect can be achieved with Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. Here is an example of about as close as I could get to this effect using Lightroom and Photoshop.
For this Hawaiian landscape, a Lightroom preset from William Petruzzo Photography called HDR Effect – Heavy was applied. The Blacks slider was increased a small amount and a Curves Adjustment Layer added in Photoshop for contrast. I tried this preset on a couple other images and got some pretty bad haloing so you need to find the right image to get this nice look. It definitely is worth trying. I am not sure if there is an ACR preset is created at this time, but if you or a friend have Lightroom, you can easily copy the settings over to create an ACR preset.
I hope this has given you a couple new techniques to try and see if you can get a close copy to the HDR effect. I will keep my eyes open for any new ideas and present them as they become available. In the meantime, have fun playing in Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd
I started playing around with the small image below that was taken of the ruins at St. Andrews Cathedral in Scotland. I loved the composition and feel of the image before I ever did any adjustments to it. This image shows what it typically looks like in Scotland.
The original appears pretty flat but overall it has a lot of interest and the details are very sharp in this shot.
- First I tried processing the image in Lightroom and applied my Vivid Drawing Look preset, a preset from a previous blog (Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!) and is available for download here. Then only an adjustment to the Luminance slider to get rid of a little noise and the Detail slider to add detail back to the overall image was done. (This can also be done after loading image into Photoshop by using Russell Brown’s script – see my blog called Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script.) I also created this preset for people that use Camera Raw from Photoshop and it may be downloaded here (I just realized it has the wrong extension on the file in the Zip folder – change it to .xmp to get it to work). Just download and load into ACR using the pop-out panel in Presets tab.
- The next effect is from a blog by Rick A. Brown at Moose’s Photography Site called Technique for Dramatic Low Saturation Images (does not appear to be available anymore).
I modified his technique to make it faster and I will give you a quick recap of how to do this here:
- Open image and duplicate the background layer.
- Turn off top layer (click on layer eyeball in Layers Palette to remove) and highlight the original Background layer.
- Create a black and white image using any method you feel gives a really contrasty high key (washed out or over-highlighted) look. He used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 which is a great program but very expensive. I think the Black and White Adjustment Layer does a fine job and if you own Lightroom, there are many really nice Black and White presets for that program that can be downloaded for free.
- Make a composite of these two layers by highlighting the Adjustment Layer and going to CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E (keeps image intact so you can adjust later if need be by deleting this layer).
- Turn on the top layer (click where eyeball should be and it turn ons) and change blend mode to Soft Light.
- This may be all it needs for corrections. If not, create another composite image as in Step 4, duplicate it and set the blend mode to Screen. Add Layer Mask and paint in area to brighten up image.
- Now this next image really changed up the feeling – it surprised me how good it looks in a monochrome. Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was used but any black and white conversion method that gives a really contrasty appearance can be used. Then a Hue/Sat Adjustment level was added and Colorize was checked. I found a really spooky inky blue color (Hue set to 242) and dropped the Saturation to 25 and this is what you get!
- Below a totally different look was created in Lightroom and used a preset called whoiswolf_cross_retro – there are several nice free presets in this group that can be downloaded here. Only this preset and then the Luminance and Color sliders in the Noise Reduction panel were used.
- For this next iteration, Gavin Hoey’s Blast From the Past actions set called Lomo effect Style 1 was applied to create this soft look. This is a very inexpensive set of actions that are great for creating some new effects.
- In this image below, first the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog Filter was applied using a dark blue color for the foggy feel (could just use the Fogs and Mists brush set by BB Brushes to create you own effect – see my Foggy Weather! blog for more on this) ; then a Curves Adjustment Layer to get a vivid blue on top and bright green color on the ground; next a Gradient Map adjustment layer with a tan color (c4b190) to a light blue color (c2d0d8) for the gradient (try different gradients – get some really interesting results doing this) and set layer Blend Mode to Color Dodge at 82%; a Levels Adjustment Layer to wash out the results to get more of a foggy look; added a New Layer and painted on Wycked – birds-sm brush from the Tranquility brush set (this is a fabulous set to own); and finished off with a PhotoFrame from OnOne Software (simply the best!). This image is presented to show what a very different look you can get with just a little experimentation.
- The next picture was created using an action I created in my blog “Create Postage Stamps with Your Images” blog under Method Two called Vintage Effect from Cloudy Text Effect (here is the download link). I am presenting it here, even though it has a similar feel to other effects like the Lomo action above, because the action is free and it gives a very nice look on many types of landscape images.
- My last image is for my son, Metal Chris at DC Heavy Metal (a great music blog with some fabulous musician photography for DC folks), who likes it when I do something different with my photos. The Mirror Filter (Kaleidoscope vertical) was applied from the Plugin Galaxy 2.0 (see my blog Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop for more on this great plug-in), along with the Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog filter and a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Gives a whole new perspective to the picture.
That should about wrap up the blog for this time. I think I could just keep doing effects – this image lends itself well to that. As I have said before, if you can get a good picture in your camera, you have lots of post-processing options – the image makes the processing easy.
Hope this inspired a few people to try different effects with the same image – it is a lot of fun to see how different the image ends up!…..Digital Lady Syd
There is a lot of excitement in the Lightroom community this week about this new plug-in from OnOne software (see Digital Lady Syd’s Tidbits Blog sidebar to access website). If you love Lightroom, like I do, you need to try it out. Not unlike my “Fader” blog from a few weeks ago, this plug-in is accessed from the Plug-In Extras under the File menu. Below is a version I created solely in Lightroom (even OnOne’s PhotoFrame can be accessed from Lightroom) except for my signature layer. The following three images are all of Urquhart Castle in Scotland – a wonderful place to take photos!
I spent a few hours looking at the various short videos (most about 2 minutes long) on the OnOne site that were very helpful. When I first installed the program, I had some problems and had to reinstall it. It worked fine after that. Check out both Matt Kloskowski’s and Scott Kelby’s videos (on the same page as the download) for great explanations on how to use this add on. For the above image, I just used the original image and a Virtual Copy with a preset I created called Emphasize Purple (you may download here). A layer mask made inside Perfect Layers masked out the drab sky from the one image and added the beautiful virtual copy sky layer. which was set to Darken Blend Mode at 100% opacity. Very easy and very clean! Most of the Photoshop shortcuts work so it does not have that large a learning curve. Please note that in this version of Perfect Layer, the following Photoshop options are not supported – text layers, vector masks, layer styles, adjustment layers, paths, alpha channels, smart objects, layer groups, and clipping masks. These options will be flattened into a new psd file copy and rendered as a single layer in Perfect Layers. Simple psd files containing basic layers and masks will open correctly. Your original version with all your original layers is always left untouched.
The image above uses the original image and a virtual copy that was converted to black and white – no preset used. Both copies of the image were selected and loaded into Perfect Layers with the B&W image on top. A Darken Blend Mode at 84% opacity was added along with a “Painted Out” Layer Mask so that the castle itself would retain its color and detail. The B&W layer was copied so the background water and hill could be emphasized even more – this new layer was set to Multiply Blend Mode at 100% opacity with the Layer Mask painted to hide the castle and foreground. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added to finish.
Below, two virtual copies were created and the Fader plug-in applied with a setting of 150% for each preset: the Blue and Gray preset (one I created to correct the water color) and Lightroom’s packaged preset called Direct Positive (for the castle and foliage). Both virtual copies were selected and loaded into Perfect Layers with the Blue and Gray preset layer on the bottom. The Direct Positive preset layer on top was put into an Overlay Blend Mode. A Layer Mask was “Painted Out” using the Brush Tool at 75% opacity over the water on the bottom edge. An OnOne PhotoFrame was added last. I am glad the two plug-ins both work together in Lightroom.
Texture and image blending can easily be handled. In the image below, after bringing a Maui landscape into Perfect Layers, the sky was stretched and cropped to become the whole image. One of Caleb Kimbrough‘s beautiful free grunge textures (that can be downloaded here) is not in my Lightroom catalog but was added by going to File and selecting Add Layer(s) From File. Really sweet!
I have not tried all the ideas suggested in the videos and hope to try them soon. Once again, this has been a fun week of trying out something new – that is what is so great about Photoshop and Lightroom – there are always new things to explore! Hope you try out this new plug-in – I believe it is worth the time to do so!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I was reading Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom Killer Tips blog (the best blog around for Lightroom fans) about a new plug-in called “The Fader.” In Matt’s words, “….it does exactly what it says. It fades presets. If you’ve ever applied a preset and like the effect, but just think it’s a little “too much” then that’s where The Fader comes in (insert deep echoed breathing here). You pick a preset and then move the slider to tone it down a bit. That’s it.” I decided to give it a try. I found out that sometimes it is better to apply the effect even more than what the basic preset allows. Since this turned out to be a major cool plug-in, I wanted to share some of my results using the program. Here is The Fader link to download the plug-in or download it from Adobe Lightroom Extension. So lets get started.
To find The Fader in Lightroom, you must go to File > Plug-in Extras > The Fader. The plug-in has a slider that allows you to set the preset strength anywhere between (-50) and +150. The preset is actually applied from within the plug-in first by selecting the file folder containing the preset in one field, and then choosing the preset from a drop-down list of the folder presets in the next field. Any number of presets can be tried (just like looking at the Navigator in Lightroom) before you decide on a preset. Below I am showing just a simple example for comparison of what results you get with no preset applied, the regular preset applied at 100%, and the preset applied using The Fader set to 85%. For the last two images, I used a preset that comes with Lightroom when purchased called Color Creative – Yesteryear 1. For all images in this blog I did basically no processing of the images except for the presets shown and a bit of vignetting in some cases.
With the last image at 85% strength, there is a little less of that fake turquoise look but still has a bit of that old-fashioned feel in the image.
Next are three images which show, once again the original image first, then one with 100% strength of the preset applied, and finally one with 150% strength applied (the maximum that can be applied). I used a preset called Vivid Drawing Look that I created and can be downloaded here.
In this case, the image at 150% strength has a better look in my opinion. The photos below are of Wrecker’s Bar in the Bahamas. First the original, then one at 100% preset strength, 121% preset strength, and one at (-31) preset strength. I used the preset from Presets Heaven called YoshkiWarmGold. This site has fabulous presets for free download and may be the second best site next to Matt’s for Lightroom.
The negative setting created really stong blue and green tones – it seems the negative numbers bring out some very different results depending on the preset. I am not sure I like the blue but this is a good example of how different the same preset can make an image look at various strengths.
The final images are just a reiteration of what is above, but the effect is really nice in all cases. It just goes to show that if the image is photographed correctly, it is hard to make it look bad no matter what you do to it! This is an image of the Bank of Scotland’s dome in Edinburgh, Scotland. The first image is as shot in raw, the second used 100% strength of Matt’s 70′s Look, and the final image is of the same preset at 150%. This preset was created in Episode 227 of Photoshop User TV and is slightly different from the Vintage presets he has on his site. I really like this preset and use it often – if you want a copy, I have it posted here.
I believe I will use this plug-in all the time – it opens up a whole lot of new possibilities for effects in images. I hope the Adobe people will consider doing just what The Fader does in their next version of Lightroom. I would recommend you download and try this program for yourself. I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to use and how interesting the effects can become. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd