Happy Holiday! Doing just a quick post this week. Thought I would show a beautiful Snowy Egret that required a rather complicated selection to show off his feathers appropriately. The bird was photographed at my favorite St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery where the egrets were in a frenzy looking for mates.
This was not an easy task to get a good selection, especially in the tail area. I created several files and trying out Photoshop CC2015’s Channel selections, Color Range Selection, and Refine Edge, OnOne’s (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) Perfect Layers 9.5 and even OnOne’s Perfect Mask 8.0, and Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) photoFXlabs and ReMask. I even combined some using the layer mask in Refine Edge after creating it another way. I can honestly say I spent several hours trying to get a good result, and for this image the winner was:………. Topaz ReMask. It took a little figuring out exactly how to get the tools to do what I wanted, but it by far gave the best results of the techniques tried. That does not mean that the others are not good selection tools, it just means that in this case ReMask ended up being the easier to use and giving the best final results with not a lot of additional tweaking to get the feathers selected. So do not get discouraged if you do not have this filter – OnOne does a great job on most selections, but I just had trouble when tried on this image. Usually Refine Edge will give me great results on hair, but not as good on the bird. Guess the bottom line is, try different selection tools before giving up. One may end up doing exactly what you want.
That being said, if you want to see the way I selected this image in ReMask, check out Darcy Wheeler’s Topaz blog called A Hair Masking Trick That’ll Blow Your Mind. Try adjusting the Color Recovery slider – I set mine close to 100 to get the best results. And check out the Mask Strength to get the best amount showing. Below is how my egret looked inside ReMask before any Brush cleanup, especially in the feather areas. By making your Magic Brush very tiny and zooming in on the image, you can remove some of the haze at the end of the feathers. You can see I added back some of leaves to give him something solid to be standing on.
Also, I should give credit to Jai Johnson textures – they are always wonderful on wildlife images and can be bought individually. This time I used her Soulful Sea Breeze texture under the bird set to 100% layer opacity and Normal blend mode. On top her Filly In the Field texture was set to Normal blend mode at 68% layer opacity which turned the texture into the lovely pinkish tones. The bird was the next layer, and then on top of that, her Soulful Sea Breeze texture was added again – set to Soft Light at 60%. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture to get the color adjustment just right – mainly added a little blue and cyan into Midtones and yellows into the Highlights. Some clean up on the foreground leaves and over the bright beak was done, and then Nik Viveza 2 was opened to adjust the strength of the feathers. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add back some contrast.
Hope this was helpful next time you got totally stumped on a hard selection. Have a great weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd