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
A few weeks ago I did a blog called “Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel-A Real Winner!” which gives the basic information needed to use this wonderful panel (which adds texture(s), resizes it to fit your image, and sets a blend mode for you all within a single click with Photoshop CS5 or CS6). At that time he was using 12 Flypaper Textures (which are absolutely fabulous if you have never used them). Russell has updated the script to include folders for your favorite textures so adding and experimenting with any texture is quick and easy. A white layer mask has been created next to the texture so you can easily paint out the texture effect where you do not want it. There are now 20 Flypaper Textures provided with the updated panel. All you do is click on the fly-out menu in the upper right corner of the panel (just like in Photoshop’s panels), click Load Texture Folder, and select the folder to open. I created a Texture folder on my desktop that contains both a My Favs folder (with textures I use the most) and a Flypaper Folder – that way it is easy to switch between them quickly. NOTE: The scroll bar on the right side of the panel does not show all the textures – you have to hover your mouse over the panel textures and use the mouse wheel to scroll through them if more than 10 textures are in the folder. To get the updated version, see Russell Brown’s Scripts Page and download the latest version. A word of caution from his website on this panel – “If you target a folder containing very large image’s or more than 20 images, then the loading process may take several minutes. Use smaller textures when ever possible.”
The above are African Violets (or agapanthas) growing in my front yard. To clear out the background, a couple virtual copies were edited in Lightroom 4 at different exposures and then stacked in Photoshop. A black layer mask was added (hold down the ALT key while clicking on the layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) and the areas to keep were painted back in on the upper layers. Then ShadowHouse Creations You’d Be Surprised texture was added using the panel above. It was set to Lighter Color Blend Mode at 59% opacity. The flowers were painted over in the white layer mask using a low opacity black brush to remove the effect on the flowers. Voila! – no distracting background!
This image of a clock at Queens’ Marketplace on the Big Island in Hawaii needed a bit of a vintage feel so several textures were layered to get this effect. Using the Paper Texture Panel I was able to stack four textures and try out different combinations and blend modes very quickly. (This image stacked ShadowHouse Creations Clouds & Birds texture minus birds using Overlay Blend Mode at 100% Opacity, ShadowHouse Creations Painterly Effect2 with same settings, Caleb Kimbrough’s Summer4 texture using Soft Light Blend Mode at 81% opacity, and Flypaper Texture Creme Anglaise using Color Blend Mode at 48% opacity. A light green to white Gradient Map Adjustment layer was added on top at 17% opacity and OnOne PhotoFrame Grunge_07 – see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link.) The textures can be added to landscape images and it gives just a subtle punch that some images really need. The original image had just a plain white sky.
This beautiful Hibiscus was growing on the grounds at the Queens’ Marketplace along with several other varieties. Great place to see hibiscus if you are on the Big Island in Hawaii. Only one texture was added using the panel but I really liked the results – it was ShadowHouse Creations Bokeh4 texture set to Overlay Blend Mode at 100% Opacity. The flower was painted over using a soft black paint brush on the mask. The final result lets some of the background through but adds the interesting bokeh effect to soften it.
If you enjoy using textures at all, or would like to start using them, give this panel a try and visit some of the texture sites linked above. You will not be disappointed!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Russell Brown Texture Panel Landscape Image
Tips for Flower Textures
Adding a Texture for Flair!
Using a Color Fill Adjustment Layer as a Spotlight
Soft-Look Flowers Using Textures