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Image of a View from Edinburgh Castle in ScotlandOriginally I thought there was not too much to discuss about the new Dehaze slider feature when it was released for Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC2015 in Camera Raw version 9.1. Now that it has been around a while, there are a few things that should be addressed. The image above of a view taken from Edinburgh Castle in Scotland is a perfect example of how this slider can really make an image pop without much manipulation. Below is the image as it came into Lightroom as a Camera Raw file. Original Camera Raw image taken from Edinburgh Castle in ScotlandAs you can see the clouds were really blown out in the original along with a real flat look, which RAW files tend to be. There were just a couple things done: the Dehaze slider (found in Lightroom CC’s Effects Panel or Photoshop CC 2015’s Camera Raw’s fx Panel) was set to +76; the Sharpen Tool Amount was increased to sharpen the whole image a little; the Noise Reduction Luminance slider was set to 16; and an Adjustment Brush was used on the left foreground trees as they were too dark compared to the ones on the right (the Shadows were opened up, the Contrast reduced, and 1/2 stop of Exposure was added to blend these trees into the others}. Nothing was done in Photoshop to this image. I really like what just a simple Dehaze adjustment  can do to make this a beautiful image and what I remember.

Julieanne Kost, the Adobe Evangelist, says in her blog that Dehaze is “based on a physical model of how light is transmitted and it tries to estimate light that is lost due to absorption and scattering through the atmosphere.” She says to adjust your White Balance first, before using the Dehaze slider. If you are afraid that you may be clipping the blacks, press ALT+drag the Dehaze slider and watch the image to see when the black pops in. Then adjust the Basic Panel sliders like the Shadow and Vibrance sliders. If using this slider from Photoshop CC2015’s Camera Raw filter, it can be applied as a Smart Object (Smart Filter-same thing).

Ben Wilmore, the Photoshop guru, said to adjust the White Balance after using the Dehaze slider first. Also Blake Rudis, another Photoshop expert, suggests using it as a first step if there is any haze in your image, so that is my workflow. The Dehaze slider can introduce a color cast, especially with hazy skies. This needs to be fixed after setting the slider.

It has been suggested that this slider works well with cityscapes, as above. Also it works well with underwater images, as in the Manatees image. The turtle shot below uses it as more of a creative slider to add some haze to the background of the image. It would be nice if you could add this effect using an Adjustments Brush or Graduated filter.


As mentioned before, it can add color casts, especially blue, in the shadows because the ground bounces the cool outdoor sky light up onto your objects. Sometimes it exaggerates artifacts as in small white highlights and dust specs. Ben Wilmore suggested three ways to correct for these issues.

  • Change the White Balance Temp or Tint sliders in the Basic Panel, or use an Adjustment Brush with the Temp/Tint sliders set to correct the color cast, and then paint in where correction is needed. Try to adjust in the direction of the opposite color (for example, if too much blue from water or sky, then add some yellow; too much green in underwater shot, then add magenta).
  • Use the Split Toning Panel. With Hue slider look for the opposite color (as above) to use in the Shadows or the Highlight areas, and then adjust the Saturation for how much color effect you need.
  • Use the HSL Panel and go to the Saturation sliders and lower the incorrect color.

These are all pretty easy fixes, and it depends on the image as to what works best – sometimes all three will need to be used.

Image of turtles in a bowl.
This shot was for Bob, my son’s long past turtle, and the humble beginnings these creatures have. These turtles were being sold in a store at the beach and I actually felt sorry for them – they were so crowded in this little bowl. The original RAW file is shown below. I decided to try adding haze to this photo to draw focus to the front turtles since there was way too much color and too many turtles in the image.  This time the Dehaze slider was set to -67 before the Basic sliders and the Adjustment Brush were used.

Camara Raw image of Turtles Once the haze was added, the Adjustment Brush was used to remove the haze off the few turtles in the front, and yet leave the effect alone for the distance. It worked very nicely. See the brush settings used and the red overlay brush strokes in screenshot below. By varying the brush Flow amount, the effect can be removed more lightly from parts of the image. The Temp and Tint sliders were adjusted along with an increase in Saturation to help recover the brightness in the foreground turtles.
Image of Overlay applied with Adjustment Brush in Lightroom
I did get a little of the white blown-out artifacting on the foreground turtle’s back. In Photoshop, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 and Nik Viveza 2 were used to add some detail and brownish tones back into his shell since I think the patterning in the shells is the interesting part of this image.

Image of Manatees at SeaWorld-OrandoThe Manatees above seemed to totally enjoy watching everybody take pictures of them while visiting their exhibit. The RAW image is shown below so you can see the color cast, noise and bright highlights. Image of Camera Raw file of Manatees at SeaWorld Orlando

The Dehaze slider was set to +78, the White Balance was changed with the Temp slider set towards yellow and Tint towards the magenta. Then a little Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity, and Vibrance changes. Next some HSL changes using the Luminance and Saturation sliders to tone down the greens some more. The Split Toning Highlights and Shadows were also added to give the highlights and shadows some corrected color. In Photoshop the Spot Healing Brush was used extensively to remove the little spots everywhere that were in the water – very time consuming. A Noise Reduction filter was used with the layer opacity set back to 75% so as not to remove all of the grain interest. Since the reflections were so bright at the top of the image and drew the eye up, a black to transparent gradient was applied to a New Layer. A layer mask was added and the manatees were painted back in so the focus is on them. I found it not as easy to use the Dehaze slider with the underwater image, but it definitely sharpened up the details so you can see the manatees more clearly.


This slider apparently is not without its controversy. This feature is in the latest update of Lightroom CC, but it was not included in the Lightroom 6.0 original release. Apparently the programs are identically, except the Dehaze feature is not turned on in Lightroom 6.0. Prolost’s website has some free presets that will allow you to use the Dehaze slider effects – I do not have this issue so I do not know how accurate the results will be, but worth a try. Also, there is no guarantee that if Lightroom 6.0 is updated, these presets can still be used.


If you would like to download the new Lightroom CC/6.0 Manual, here is the link to Adobe’s pdf file as it is a little hard to find. Also I just learned that “Adobe provides backwards compatibility for the latest cameras for free in Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS6 as well as Lightroom 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, through the Adobe DNG Converter. With this tool, you can easily convert camera-specific raw files from supported cameras to a more universal DNG raw file.” Therefore, if you bought a new camera, you will be able to open the files up in the older versions of both Lightroom and Photoshop’s ACR – no feature updates, but at least your programs are not unusable.

Well hope you enjoyed this blog – a pretty simple slider that seems to give some big results to the images you are processing. A lot of people are really liking the effects. Until next time, have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd


Black and White Image of Daytona Beach This week I was watching some of Creative Lives‘s Photo Week shows and came across this wonderful black and white technique presented by Vincent Versace, another one of my favorite Photographer and Photoshop gurus. The image above is one I recently took at Daytona Beach on a beautiful September Day. I was trying to get across the point that cars are allowed on this beach, one of the few in Florida, but none were present on this weekday. This rather simple process was originally developed by the Adobe Evangelist Russell Brown and was described in his book from 2004 called The Photoshop Show.

What I learned is that to have a really good black and white image, you must first start with a really good color image – or to put it another way, color matters! The shot may have been taken to use as a black and white image, but the image must first be cleaned up before converting to the black and white. Vincent said do not do your conversion in a RAW converter like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw as it comes in the workflow at the wrong place – need to do other things to image in Photoshop first. If you convert using  a single Channel or the Grayscale Mode (uses just the Green channel info) of the image, you lose tw0-thirds of the pixels in your conversion. Converting to LAB does not help either since you really only have the Luminosity Channel that can be used for the conversion. Therefore, the best way to convert your image into a black and white is to use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level with Saturation set to -100 where all three of the color channels (Red, Green, and Blue) will be available. By adding a second Hue/Saturation Adjustment set to Color blend mode underneath, the Hue slider can be used to change the contrast of the different colors, and the Saturation slider will allow for smaller contrast changes.


  1. First do the work that needs to be done to get image sharp and colors correct.
  2. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top, name it Film, and set the Saturation slider to -100.
  3. Next a second Hue/Saturation Filter is added between the image and the Film Adjustment Layer and set to Color blend mode. I named the layer Darken aspect.
  4. Duplicate the Hue/Saturation Filter two more times (CTRL+J), and name them Midtone aspect and Lighter aspect. This helps to keep the adjustments straight.
  5. Want to work the adjustment layers from the bottom up. On the Darken layer, use these settings: Hue -148, Sat +28, and Lightness 0. If you look at the image with the Film Adjustment Layer turned off, it looks really strange – just remember the adjustment is not for color correction but to add contrast in specific parts of the image.
  6. On the Midtone layer, use Hue +30, Saturation +34, and Lightness -2.
  7. On the Lighter layer, use Hue +41, Saturation +27, and Lightness -2.
  8. Now paint in the layer masks to direct the contrast effects you want. Vincent filled the Darken and Midtone Adjustment Layers with black and then paint back the areas to use. In the beach image, I liked the overall effect of the Darken adjustment and painted out with a black brush what I did not like. This is where the flexibility is. If you are having trouble telling what effect the adjustment layer is having on the image, turn off the Film adjustment layer, then turn on and off the individual adjustments below. You will see what color is changing in each adjustment which is where the contrast will change when the Film layer is turned on again.
  9. More Hue/Saturation adjustment layers can be added to target just a certain color by opening up the Master drop-down and choosing a specific color. The contrast for just that color will be adjusted when sliders are changed. Your image can get quite complex!

For step 1 above, Topaz (see website in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used to sharpen the image and Topaz DeNoise 5 to remove some of the noise that was in the blue sky. Also two Curves Adjustment Layers were set to Luminosity blend mode to get the umbrellas, water and sky to look correct. The layer masks were filled with black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the areas I wanted to emphasize were gradually painted back with a soft white low opacity brush.  Each of my blog images needed some tweaking first. The settings used in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers were ones Vincent used in his presentation. The nice thing is that if you do not like the results, you can always change them since the adjustment layers are non-destructive.

Black and white image of a small alligatorThis little alligator has a pretty nice place to live as the main attraction in a tourist shop in Daytona Beach. He was sitting under a nice toasty light which made the shot pretty easy. This is another example of using the exact same workflow but his eye was sharpened with an Exposure Adjustment Layer before the conversion to black and white. A little clone stamp clean up on a New Layer above was used to get rid of some of the distracting bright spots near his body. That was it.

Image of the face of a Native American dancer wearing a Jingle DressThis beautiful young lady was performing a healing dance in a special dress called a Jingle Dress. This is a rather rigorous dance with very colorful costumes and was taken at the 25th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. These events are always a wonderful place to take photographs. The same workflow again, except this time a Frequency Separation process was used on her face (it was applied rather lightly since this was not supposed to be a glamour shot), and the Sharpen Tool was used on some of the jewelry and blouse details. (Check out Retouching Skin Utilizing Frequency Separation for more info on this.) An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eyes. Then the black and white conversion was done.

I would highly recommend that you purchase Vincent Versace’s excellent video at Creative Live or buy his book if you find this technique intriguing. The video at Creative Live is for sale and is called Black and White Photography: Learning Grayscale Conversion. His recent book covers much more about this technique and is called From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man. Well I hope you get to try this wonderful technique, especially if you like black and white images. It really is quite easy and good results can be achieved. I love it when I find a new way of doing something that I have not tried out before. This one turned out to be great! Have a good week!……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop


Image of a Ferris WheelJust a quick blog this week. Decided to show the results of a rather fun inexpensive action I bought recently. This ferris wheel image taken in Savannah, Georgia a while back and was one was my first attempts using the Mix Art Sketch (SS-MixArt) action. I have to admit it takes probably 10 minutes for my rather older computer to run the whole action, but afterwards there were lots of options that can be adjusted to get the sketch-like effect. Overall I love this action. It is compatible with CS3 and on. I added my own Corel Painter texture to the above image and used some of Kyle T. Webster’s wonderful Watercolor Brushes on separate layers on top to add some additional solid wash colors and splatters. Kyle may have the best Photoshop watercolor brushes around!


Image of Growing Tomatoes on Epcot's The Land rideI am still learning how to modify the different layers and layer masks to get the results I like. There are 9 layer groups that can be used on your image (Background Set, Background Elements, Main Focus, Engraving, Brushed Strokes, Paint Splash, Textures, Contrast Adjustments, and Color Adjustments). If you decide you like the group effect on the image, you can go in and adjust the individual layer opacities and blend modes, or change the adjustment layer opacities to get a more exact effect. The tomato image used all but the Paint Splash group – instead two layers of Kyle T. Webster’s Real Watercolor Spatter Dense brush (my very favorite spatter brush) were added onto the image to give a more painterly effect. I also like the Texture Group’s half-tone pattern that can be added in the image.


Image of some kids watching waves at Daytona BeachI call this image “Wave Watching” and it was taken on Daytona Beach, Florida. This same action was used. Just a lot of fiddling around with the different layer opacities and layer masks to get the effect I wanted. Some clean up was done on a separate layer. A Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode was added to get the exact color needed. A few more spatters using Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spatter brush on a separate top layer gave a little more texture to the water.


Image of people eating at a cafe in Edinburgh, ScotlandJust another example of what can be done with this action using the same steps. Image taken in Edinburgh, Scotland on a warm day.

If you want a the sketch look on an image, this might be a nice inexpensive choice for getting the effect. The action cost me $5.00 and it is one of the most extensive actions I have ever used. I think it is an effect that would look really nice on personal cards, especially if you have cute kids to add. See you next week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Akvis Sketch Plug-in for Photoshop
How To Get Painting Effects from Actions-Part 2


Image of a historic building's balcony in St. Augustine, FloridaThought this week I would just do a quick blog on this rather older and overlooked feature in Photoshop that can really give your images a pretty decent painterly feel. Even I overlooked it and have not blogged much on this before. There is a lot more to this little jewel than I thought at first. The above image is of a historic balcony on St. Georges Street in the historic district of St. Augustine.

There are just a couple important things you need be know before you start painting away. One – your image needs to be in 8-bit mode (check this out by going to Image -> Mode -> 8-bit) or it will not work, and two – need to start by making a new Snapshot of your image by going to the History Panel. In the pop-out on top right corner of panel, select New Snapshot – when the dialog opens up, in drop-down do not choose Full Document, but Merged Layers. Now you can select that snapshot and you should be able to paint either directly on the image, or on a layer above. I recommend you watch Julieanne Kost, the Adobe Photoshop guru, short video called Secrets of the Art History Brush that goes over all the brush settings and how to really make your images just stand out.

So where do you find the Art History brushes? Photoshop only supplies one default Art History Tool preset (click on the far left arrow next to the tool icon in the Options Bar to see loaded choices). There are other Art History brush presets provided by PS, but you need to click on the Wheel at the top right of the Tools Panel and select Load. By default you should see several other tool choices (Tool Presets include different brushes and others tool presets) so select the Art History Brushes – 10 more Art History brushes should now appear in the Tools panel that can be used.  Also, Jack Davis, possibly my favorite Photoshop guru (I have blogged about his PS painting techniques often), offers 20 Art History brushes that are from 2002, but work just fine in the current PS versions. You can download them by going to Jack Davis Wow Facebook page and clicking on the More tab – then Freebies. There is a One-Click Wow Photoshop Presets Mini Sampler that can be downloaded. It is not really that hard to make your own brushes by first selecting the Art History Brush (which resides with the History Brush) and then selecting a brush from the Brush Preset Panel. Now by changing the settings in the Options Bar, you can get many different effects. Check out the Style field in the Options Bar to get a lot of choices.

To create the image above, the Background layer was opened in Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression where a watercolor effect preset was applied. Then a snapshot of the layer was created and the paintbrush was set next to this snapshot in the History Panel. A Pattern Fill Layer using a canvas type pattern was added above the Background layer set to a low layer opacity to see through to paint to get some background texture. It was increased layer when done painting. A Solid Fill layer could just as easily be used. On a New Layer on top the Artist Brush was used to paint over the image. Since the whole layer was not painted, you get a mix of the original Topaz Impression effect and the Art History brush strokes. I also used a chalk brush as an Art History brush to paint in some of the edges on another New Layer. On another separate layer, a scatter watercolor regular brush was used to add some more texture interest in the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was needed on top to add some of the contrast back into the image but that was about all there was to it.

Image of a Flower Cart at SeaWorld OrlandoThe flower cart image from SeaWorld Orlando was used to create this image. This time I painted just the cart over a white Solid Fill Adjustment Layer using PS’s Oil Sketch Art History Brush. When finished painting, one of my Corel Painter textures was added over the Fill Layer before applying Alien Skin’s Snap Art’s Autumn Abstract preset to a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer. Another Snapshot was created by going to the pop-out and selecting New and Merged Layers. With the Art History brush set to the right edge of this new Snapshot in the History Panel, a New Layer was created and PS’s Butterfly Madness Art History brush was used to pop up the flowers a little and some of the edges – that is the scattered edge effect you see. That was about all that was done, but by combining with some of the other PS plug-ins, the Art History brushes can give some pretty nice results!

The images I created are pretty basic. I think with a little more experimentation better results can be obtained. This is a really an easy process and there is a lot of flexibility after trying it out and seeing what you can do with it. You can use any number of snapshots with different effects on them – like adding contrast or changing colors, etc. The basic limitation is that once you close out of the document, you lose all your snapshots and you will have to reconstruct them if you want to work on the image some more. On the other hand, it does not take too long to get a pretty nice result. Definitely worth playing with and combining with other painting techniques. I was really surprised how it worked so well with Topaz Impression. Well that’s it for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

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Image of Glass Maker at the Magic Kingdom at Disney WorldThis week I thought I would post a little interesting Spotlight Effect using the Subtract blend mode that I posted in my Tidbits Blog several years ago. It is such a handy little technique learned from Calvin Hollywood, a German Photoshop guru, so I thought I would share it again. This image of the glass maker in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World is an example of how to use this technique. The spotlight effect can be directed exactly the way you want it.

The Subtract blend mode (and also the Divide blend mode) was introduced in Photoshop in CS5. Calvin has posted a very nice short video that includes this technique called “New Blend Modes – Divide and Subtract.”

The basic workflow as follows:

  1. Open image in Photoshop and duplicate the Background Layer (CTRL+J).
  2. Set top layer to Subtract blend mode.
  3. Go to Filter -> Bur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius to 250. The image now has a night effect and is not that blurry.
  4. Add a Layer Mask and with the mask highlighted, paint with a black brush set to a low opacity to emphasize areas to be lightened.

Below is the result of using the technique from the original blog post showing how effective this spotlight technique can be. This image is of a beautiful sculpture called Cherubs Playing with a Swan that was created by Jean-Baptiste Tuby I in 1672-73 and is located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. To see original image, go to my Spotlight Effect With the New Subtract Blend Mode Tidbits Blog.

Image of a Sandhill Crane on a painted texture. height=
This image is of a Sandhill Crane is one of several that are “wandering” around our neighborhood for the last couple of weeks. These birds sort of look like a turkey body with these gorgeous heads of red feathers. They only visit a few weeks a year and are rather tame! The Subtract blend mode was used to create a really soft vignette effect around this painted bird. The layer opacity was only set to 29%, just enough to put a little spotlight on our posing model – very subtle. (Should mention a couple of steps used to do this. The texture is one I made in Painter, then in PS the bird was selected and placed above the texture. Using Mixer Brushes as a blender and to add color, the bird was painted over on a New Layer. The texture was duplicated and placed on top, set to Subtract blend mode at 29% layer opacity. Then on an added layer mask using a low opacity brush, the soft vignette was painted in. Final steps were the usual color and contrast adjustments.)

Well, hope you enjoyed my little Subtract tip for this week. By adjusting the layer opacity or changing the Density and Feather sliders in the layer mask’s Properties Panel, the effect can be set just as you want. Hope to get out and take more of these birds this week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
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Had not planned on writing on this topic this week, but since I own Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask, thought I would put it through its paces. Along the way, a couple other tips popped up! This image took me several hours to complete, but was worth it. The colors in these Scarlet Macaws are incredible and perfect for painting. I call this guy “King of the Alligator Farm” as he was so noticeable and seems to enjoy everybody checking him out.

Topaz recently updated their selection plug-in to ReMask 5 and the results are really great. Remember, if you own this plug-in, it is a free upgrade for you. The major improvement for me is the Background section as shown at end of blog. Otherwise I found the program to be just like Version 4 and it still works very well. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is?) It took practically no time to separate this image with a distracting green colored background and place it on my Corel Painter texture. In fact, in most cases you do not have to fill in the areas. Check out this short basic tutorial for version 4, that works the same with version 5, on how to create a mask fast – ReMask 4 Masking Hair. After computing the mask, I usually adjust the Recovery slider (revives color of foreground in weaker transparent areas) and the Layer Mask strength (determines the brightness of the mask) to get better results in my masks. Check out the Manual for how all the slider work. Below is a screenshot of the ReMask 5 interface.

Screenshot of ReMask 5.0 with macaw selectedYou need to go to Menu -> Preferences and check Enable Use-Layer-Mask to get a layer mask on image layer back in Photoshop. The final image used three different effects in Topaz Lens Effects: Fisheye to increase the head size a little (this work really good on bird images), Toy Camera Awesomeness I preset tweaking the sliders to get the rich color tones, and as a final step in this image using the Fog 1 preset which gives the final slightly faded feel around the bottom of the image to drive the eye upward. The basic workflow was the same one used in my How To Get a Painterly Effect for Wildlife and Birds blog. The biggest problem with this image was to get the focal point well defined on the face since the colors are so vivid and compete with the face.

ReMask 5 really selected the bird and feather edges very easily and without too much touch up in the resulting layer mask. I usually flip between the Mask view and the Keep View. The brushes in the plug-in are very sensitive so that you can really select the extra little spots needed just by tapping with the brushes – no real painting. To switch between the brushes use keyboard shortcuts “q” for to add back image, “w” to remove areas, and “e” to recompute the area. Zoom in close and tap away with the different brushes. Pretty easy. This is the basic trick to getting a really clean mask.


Image of a Cattle EgretThis Cattle Egret took lots of steps so I will not go over all of them. Just wanted to emphasize that the same Topaz ReMask 5 was used to select him. In this bird’s case, it took a little more clean up in Photoshop to get it exactly the way I liked it. The Oil Paint Filter in CS6 was applied to just the bird quickly, then I hand painted more on the bird. The Fog Filter in Topaz Lens Effects was used on the left side of the image to soften the body effect. Below is how the Cut View of the mask appeared for cattle egret image. One of my Corel Painter textures was added to the image a couple times for the final result.
Screenshot of Cut View in Topaz ReMask 5


Two things have been improved: Topaz has included a new Background icon at bottom of column where you can open any image to add into the shot as a background, and it is now a stand-alone program that interfaces smoothly with Lightroom. The best use for the Background section would probably be for adding a new sky in a landscape (see below) or as a background to a portrait. Have Background choices of Transparency (the default setting), Solid Color or Image where you can select an image or texture from your computer. Click the orange icon and you get options to Move, Scale (keeps aspect ratio so you cannot stretch the texture) or Rotate the background. Press the yellow icon to swap out the chosen background image. There are several basic sliders to adjust the background to blend in with the masked area. Below is a screenshot of this section where I replaced a sunset type sky with some painted clouds. The down side is that if you are using the plug-in within Photoshop, you will have to save the mask with the new background down in a JPEG, PNG or TIFF file format – it does not save as a layered PSD file. I found this very confusing as you have to reopen your image with the other formats in PS and mine all appeared to be flattened. For me it is easier to just create the mask in ReMask, then add the texture in Photoshop where there are more options for manipulating the blend between the two layers. Still it is a pretty handy thing to have for use with Lightroom. Here is the link on Flickr to the original image. Screenshot of Topaz ReMask 5's background section


I still love Topaz ReMask and version 5 is even better. Definitely my “go-to” program for creating complicated selections. It is worth the time to figure out how quickly the selections can be made, even if just used as a starting point. You can always go back to the layer mask in Photoshop and tweak it some more. I usually have to. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HDR image of Flagler Beach, FloridaImages in this blog are of my local Flagler Beach, Florida, and were taken with my Nikon 10-24 mm wide-angle lens. This week I decided I should address this new technology that is only in Lightroom CC. Since I have not been shooting HDR for a while, it is not something I use that much. I have always used Photomatix and Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 plug-ins for my HDR images, so this is definitely an interesting update for Lightroom. Many die-hard HDR fans are not liking the results. My take on this process is that it is very good and it comes with Lightroom so you don’t have to buy it. I will probably use it when I can.

So I am going to go through my Lightroom workflow real quick so you can see the screenshots for each step. The actual shooting using bracketed images to create an HDR image is a huge topic that I am not covering in this blog. It is recommended that you first do the Merge to HDR before doing any other changes in LR, especially the Adjustment Brush changes.

1. Need to first highlight each of the images to be merged into HDR. My images selected were using Exposure Compensations of -2 1/2, -1/2, and +1 1/2. Adobe says you only need to use 2 images, but some people say noise appears unless 3 are used. Apparently 3 images are enough to get good results, even if you have more bracketed.

2. Right click on one of the selected images and choose Photo Merge -> HDR. The following dialog will open showing the basic merged image.

Screenshot of Lightroom's Merge to HDR dialogI decided to use all three HDR Options even though a tripod was used to shoot these images. Always use the Auto Align to be sure they are lined up correctly. Use Auto Tone to bring in the information for the light and dark tones from each image. Only need to use Deghost when you have some sort of action in the image. This could be people moving around or, as in this case, clouds and waves that can be moving quite a bit so the High setting was selected. By checking the Show Deghost Overlay, you can see where it deghosted. I believe it was quite windy when I took these images, so that is why the plants on the right foreground were deghosted. With each change selected, the image updates.

3. Click the Merge button when all settings are correct.

Screenshot of the Lightroom HDR Merged imageAbove shows the expected rather flat merged DNG image. The DNG file format is the same as a RAW file – it is just Adobe’s file extension for RAW files. I do not usually save my RAW files as DNGs, but use Nikon’s NEF file format when I import. This is really just personal taste.

4. Apply settings to really pop your image.

First adjust the Exposure slider which now can be set between +10 to -10. The normal settings are from +5 to -5. Now since the blacks and whites are making the image so flat looking, set these. To get the best Auto blacks setting, hold SHIFT and double-click on the word Blacks – it will now be set at the position to get the best effect. You can still adjust it more if you do not like the results. Do the same for the Whites slider. Then add some Clarity and Vibrance to finish up. See the image under Step 6 to see the settings along with the HSL settings.

5. Use Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush to Dodge and Burn localized areas. Screenshot of areas to Dodged using Adjustment Brush in LightroomThe Adjustment Brush was used to some Brightening to very localized areas – the waves and some of the rocks. Above is a screenshot showing these areas as painted as a red overlay on the the image, and the brush settings used to get these results. Just a little Exposure was added (+0.47), some Clarity, and Sharpness so the waves show up a little better. Note that in this case the brush was set to a 100% Flow, but I do not always do this. For a more gentle effect, use a lower Flow amount and build up the effect as needed.

Screenshot of Burning in Lightroom using the Adjustment BrushAbove the Adjustment Brush was used to add some Darkening or Burning effect to some localized areas – only the Exposure was set to -0.39 and a few parts of the sand were darkened. You can see the white dot that shows where the dodging was added before. Just click on it to further adjust the dodging effect.

6. Adding HSL slider settings.

Screenshot showing Lightroom's Basic settings and HSL Luminance settingsHere are the settings used for the Basic settings and the HSL Luminance settings for this image. I did not feel it needed anymore changes to the colors other that the Oranges and Blues adjustments. Overall the image looked pretty nice and balanced to me.

Below is another image created using the HDR process in Lightroom. I am really pleased with the lack of noise in the image – the DNG file was very sharp, but the colors still needed a little tweaking. Some overall sharpening was done to the image in Lightroom and an Adjustment Brush was used to even out the shadows in the dark window shutter behind her. Also two Radial Filters were applied – just decreased Exposure slider for the darker vignette effect, and then increased it slightly to get the face and body lightened slightly. In Photoshop some clean up was done using the Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Tool to remove a restraining rope that ran in front of the umbrellas. Also a final Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to just add a bit more contrast in the blacks. This could have been done in Lightroom as well.
Image of a lady painting the parasols at the Magic KingdomThat is about all there is to it! It is very easy to do and by having the Lightroom sliders available, it is easy to adjust just the way you want. You can still work on the image in Photoshop or add some special effect presets in Lightroom. Lots of options. Hope you try out this new command, and try out shooting some HDR if you have not tried it yet. I believe it can really take your image to a higher level of detail and color. Chat at ya next week!…..Digital Lady Syd


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