This post was going to be a review about one of my favorite filters, the now updated Topaz Sharpen AI filter that contains a brush for creating a mask to locally sharpen certain areas of the image. There appears to be a few bugs yet so I am not ready to review it. Instead I went back into my archive to find some new things to work on during this stay-at-home time. Therefore this week is going to be just a short blog on getting a little detail into an image, in this case some Jellyfish images. Hum!
The Moon Jellyfish image above seems to be both creepy and beautiful at the same time. (Their body is white in color, round, and very transparent so when the sun or the moon is shining on them, they look just like a lit-up moon.) What was really interesting to me was how to get all the nooks and crannies of this image to look as transparent as the jellyfish really looked. The Camera Raw Filter was opened and a free Profile in a Sparklestock set called Lemon – Pumpkin 02 profile at 106% was selected (they have many great presets and all have free samples). Then the basic sliders were adjusted so that the background was a little darker and the light lines showed up a better. Some Texture and Clarity were also added. Since I did not have my Topaz Sharpen AI working, I decided to use my back-up which never lets me down – Luminar 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link). It has also been recently updated for Landscapes or Portraits. Sometimes the AI Enhance Tool is used, but in this case it was lightening up the background too much. The AI Structure Tool (Amount 73 and Boost 43) and painted in a mask where on the areas needing sharpening was used first. Then applied the Details Enhancer Tool (Small Details 49, Medium Details 25, and Large Details 37). These are usually the only two filters needed to get some great detail from Luminar. Now here is a great trick when working with objects with thin lines – go into Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio 2 and apply the Edges Filter. This filter can do wonders to give a little more edge to objects. In this case these filters and settings were used: AI Clear: Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Exposure 0.02 and Clarity 0.40 (I still love this filter in Studio and just by adding a little Clarity here helped quite a bit in this case); and Edges: Edge Type – Monochrome Line, Edge Tone – Light, Edge Strength – 0.67, Simplify Edge – 0.04, Suppress Weak Edges – 0.35, Suppress Small Edge 0.84, Edge Thickness 0.12, and Edge Resolution – 0.84 – painted off any long white lines which looked over the top. That was basically all that was done on this image, but the sharpening process turned out really good.
So for this image the following items were used to add the detail: (1) Camera Raw Filter and the Texture and Clarity sliders in particular; (2) Luminar 4 using their AI Structure and Details Enhancer Tools; and (3) Topaz Studio 2’s AI Clear (especially the Clarity slider) and Edges Filters.
This image is of a more traditional looking Jellyfish, the kind I have seen in the ocean before. This time a more painterly effect was applied and most of this was done in Topaz Studio 2 where the more artistic filters can be found. This time an older version of Topaz Sharpen AI (Model: Stylize at Sharpness 0.90 and Suppress Noise 0.20) was used to do my initial sharpening – and it did a great job. Luminar 4 was applied on a stamped layer and the Dramatic set Mystic Look preset was applied which gave it an overall painterly feel. Then on another stamped layer Topaz Studio 2 was opened and AI Clear applied – Remove Noise: Auto, Enhance Sharpness: High, and Clarity 0.78. Next the wonderful Edges filter set to 100 Opacity, Multiply blend mode, Edge Type Monchrome Edge, but this time Edge Tone: Dark instead of Light as above. All the other sliders refine the original Edge Strength (0.78) setting: Simplify Edge 0.40, Suppress Weak Edges 0, Suppress Small Edges: 0.00, Edge Thickness 0.40, and Edge Resolution 1.00. In layer mask with brush set to Transparency 0.50, Radius 0.03, Softness 0.50 and Edge Aware On, painted effect off in a mask where the lines were just too dark – this still left an enhanced line but was not as obvious. The Impression filter was set to Type 13, Background Color Original in Texture section, and in inverted layer mask, just painted over the top of the Jellyfish with brush at 0.78 Transparency. Back in PS, the background was created by using 3 different colors on 3 different layers using the Shadowhouse Creations texture brush set to a large size (it was the 2nd example created in my recent How to Create a Texture Brush to Match a Texture blog). Then put layers in a group and set it to 82% layer opacity. On a New Layer on top, the top part of the Jellyfish was smoothed with a Mixer brush. Then on another New Layer, a small brush was used to add in some of the tentacle lines that were missing. Text was Hardwired Script Update and it was a lot of fun to use – the creator added in many variations for the letters. Still more clean up, but these were pretty much the steps. Once again Studio’s Edges filter was a great help.
For this image, these detailed items were used: (1) Topaz Sharpen AI; (2) Topaz Studio 2’s AI Clear and Edges filters; and (3) actually drew in any small lines that needed emphasis using a tiny small brush.
More Moon Jellyfish – this time in a sepia tone. Did initial sharpening in Lightroom using the Detail Panel before applying the old Nik Silver Efex Pro filter to the image. Just the default preset was used to start and then changes were made using Toning Preset 9 to give a slightly bluish look. Back in PS the image was inverted (CTRL+I on the image). A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using a Color Negative Device Link preset (not sure if this is from PS or not) set to Hue – it added the nice sepia effect. The Moon is from Rule by Art (in Design Cuts Planet-Space-Explosion-Background and Ancient Texture set) and it was also adjusted to match the Jellyfish using the same Silver Efex Pro and Color Lookup Adjustment Layer settings. Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to the Foggy Night preset at 63% layer opacity and Overlay blend mode. Used the same Hardwired Script Update font. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back.
In this case, the only sharpening needed was in Camera Raw. It is interesting to see that each image had such different requirements.
Hope everyone is taking it easy and trying out some new techniques. That is what I was trying to do with my images – try a few different things and see what I like. It is actually nice to be able to slow down and think about this – just hope it is not for too long. Stay safe!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I thought I would just show a creative way to present your subjects if you get tired of just using a single image. The above image is of a beautiful Lioness at the Jacksonville Zoo. This was supposed to be a sepia tone but after a lot of iterations, the cool tones looked the best to me. By using two images, it displayed her different expressions. These kind of composites can be really beautiful and are fun to do, especially if you have a couple images that compliment each other.
Here are the steps to get the above look: This image was originally post processed in Lightroom as a color image and settings were pasted between the images so they looked similar in tone. Then in a New Document in Photoshop a black background layer was created and the images were added. For the top face, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReMask was used to select the lion as a nice result could not be achieved with Photoshop’s Select and Mask command. For the foreground Lion, the Pen Tool was used to select her. I tried using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert this image to black and white, but it just did not work – the image looked degraded. Instead I used Topaz Studio’s Black and White filter – it has an Orange slider which really worked with a lion image (also Topaz has had the best color sliders since they started), Precision Detail, a Color Overlay using a charcoal blue color (#2e4e62), and Precision Contrast. Still needed something else, so Luminar (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Flex’s Image Radiance filter was added for the soft effect – it just popped this image. In the filter mask, the faces were painted back to retain the detail. A spotlight effect and rim lighting on the right side of both faces was added in Photoshop. Some Mixer Brush magic was used on the upper image to blend her neck into the background, and a Gradient Tool was used on a new layer to slightly darken the top face. This image took some manipulation to get the look I liked – luckily I like to play around with all the different filters! But I think the results can be quite outstanding.
For a slightly different look, these Day Lilies taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens were put on a black background just like above, but this time a leaf image was added to the upper right edge to add a very subtle feel. (See my Beautiful Leaves Tidbits Blog for the original leaf image.) To get the flowers to light up so much, the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used. A little spotlight effect also helped and some leaves were drawn in to fill them out a little. Next Viveza 2 was used to blend the two images together seamlessly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used at the end to get the final look.
Here is an older image taken several years ago in Arizona with yet a different way of using this kind of effect. In this case a box was added on top of the image where another image could be inserted. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to give the background image a really darker feel.
The above is actually a really simple technique. It used to be more popular and was used a lot in wedding photography. It is still a nice way to achieve a different effect.
Well hope you give this one a try – it is a lot of fun and if you have several good shots of something you like, it might look really nice. Will chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I thought I would discuss using the built-in templates in the Print module of Lightroom. They can be a little tricky. I listened to some videos recently from Lynda.com by Julianne Kost called Introduction to Photo Compositing. She used a Lightroom Print module diptych template for her images before saving them as JPEG files in the Print To field. I just sort of improvised and used a canned LR default called Custom 2 over 1 in the Template Browser, which is an example of a Custom Package Layout Style. Then adjusted each image cell to fit the image selected in the Filmstrip at the bottom. The low original coastline image was more square than that shown – just used Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scale to stretch it out while protecting the coastline. The background in the template was a beach texture created in Corel Painter with some grunge brush strokes added on top – had to select the white border and remove it before adding the texture. The Maui images above were all processed using similar filters – the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 set to Luminosity blend mode and then Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle. Pretty simple workflow.
Here is another image LR template showing my painted birds that used a rather unique set up for presenting your photos. I don’t know why, but I like the vertical strip look. In PS, a different texture was used for this background. Again, selected the white border and added a layer mask. Then applied the mask to just leave the images that can then be placed above the texture layer.
Now for the Layout Style template issue! I find these print module templates not as easy to use as it should be. After playing around with the two templates shown above, I have learned that there are differences between each style and how you load the images. Here are some issues to be aware of:
- Sometimes the images are not in the same folders. If this happens a temporary new collection needs to be created so all the images appear in the filmstrip together. The Quick Collection does not work, must be in a created one. The Filmstrip is how you add the images to your templates so this is a necessary step. You can remove the collection when you are done printing or saving the final image as a JPEG.
- A lot depends on whether you are using a Single Image/Contact Sheet template or a Custom Package. Depending on which one is being used determines how the images can be added to the template. If you cannot drag images in individually from the filmstrip, the template is a Single Image/Contact Sheet template. More on this below.
- Unfortunately, the size of the images cannot be increased or reduced to adjust inside the cells – in other words no Free Transform to adjust image in cell – the aspect ratio is set. The work around would be in the Develop module to create a Virtual Copy of the size or part of image you would like to use and then select it in the Filmstrip using the Print Module.
For Single Image/Contact Sheet templates, the limitation is that the images can only be added based upon the order of the images in the Filmstrip – must select all of the images at once in the Filmstrip to add. Therefore, if you do not like the order, you will have to rename the images to set the order. When using this type of template, the images can be adjusted inside the the individual image cells by just dragging inside them. The Zoom to Fit can be checked to make it fit the cell, but the size cannot be adjusted otherwise. Press CTRL+click on the image to deselect image to remove from template.
For Custom Package templates, the images can be dragged into any cell and in any order. If a template will not let you add another image, that means a Single Image/Contact Sheet Layout Style template has been selected. Unfortunately there are not as many options to create a template when the Custom Package is selected. There are no Layout Margin or Cell Spacing cells so all the image cells have to be lined up using the Rulers checkbox in the Rulers, Grid & Guides section. This can be tedious to do, but worth the time so that the images can be added in any order. Start with Cells section and press the Clear Layout button – then Add to Package and click the 2 X 2.5 button, then start adjusting the size of the cell to taste by dragging the sides or corners. To adjust the image position inside the cells, must CTRL+drag on image or else the actual photo cell moves. To delete a cell, just press the BACKSPACE key. To duplicate a cell, press ALT+drag to it to a new position. If
Below you can see the difference between the two major Layout Styles. Luckily in this case you can get very similar results, but it is harder to set up the Custom Package style. The top screen shot used a Custom Package layout and the bottom one used the Single Image/Contact Sheet layout. If you would like to see the preset settings more clearly, click on each image to see settings in Flickr:
After images are lined correctly, go to the Print Job and change Print to: from Printer to JPEG File. The image can then be brought into Photoshop where the background can be changed and text added. Pretty easy at this point.
In my Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom blog a while back, there are several more examples of using LR templates. For more info on how to create your own Print Template presets, Scott Kelby did a really nice job in his Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (any version) Book for Digital Photographers, “Creating Custom Layouts Any Way You Want Them” chapter. Here he goes into more detail on how to make several different creative effects using the Custom Package layout style. This module has not changed since Lightroom 3 at the time of this blog. I really like templates. It is too bad it is so confusing as to how to get these nice effects. I am surprised Adobe has not updated the Print module to incorporate some easier ways to add photos and adjust them. Hopefully that will be part of the next update. Anyway, it was a lot of fun creating some different ways to show my images. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd
Since I am a big fan of Topaz products and Impression 2 is one of my favorite plug-ins, I had to share this effect I learned from a Topaz Labs webinar this week. An artist named Bobbie Goodrich presented a webinar called RAW to Envisioned (will add link once it is posted). She used a leopard in a tree image to create a similar effect to the one above. My image was taken of a Hobby Lobby’s Thanksgiving display showing some of their wonderful objects for sale. I might add Bobbie had several other great tips, this one just stood out to me as so creative!
Here is how Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression was used to create this image. The other post-processing steps are listed at the end of the blog under Image 1 Info. On a Stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz Impression 2 was opened. The preset named Le Modern was downloaded from the Community and Bobbie’s settings were then applied as listed: Stroke Section – No. of Brush Strokes Low, Paint Volume 1.00, Stroke Rotation 1.00, Rotation Variation 1.00, Stroke Color Variation 1.00, Stroke Width 0.80, Stroke Length 1.00, Spill 0.03, and Smudge 0.12. What really helps create the effect is the Coverage slider – set to a low amount like 0.01, it will show the smallest amount of image; set to a large amount, the whole image will appear. The Coverage Transition slider adjusts the way the edges blend out. Bobbie used a Coverage of 0.01 and a Transition Amount of 0.08. The Coverage can be repositioned to adjust exactly where the effect shows up by either using the little center icon to the left of the Coverage Center or dragging the white dot in the box. She did not include any changes to the Lighting, Color and Texture sections. I used these settings to make a preset named SJ Leopard Preset by Bobbie Goodrich so I could remember how I use it. She apparently is going to upload her actual preset to the Topaz Impression2 Community, but it was not available when I last checked – will add link if I find it. Otherwise the settings above are from the webinar and are a good starting point.
Now these are the changes I made to the created preset above on the holiday image: Stroke Coverage 0.00, Coverage Transition 0.14, Coverage Center X 0.09/Y 0.03; Lighting Brightness -0.55, Contrast 0.00, Highlight -0.56, Shadow 0.80 and Light Position X -0.90/Y 0.77, Vignette 0.53, Vignette Strength 0.76, Vignette Transition 0.52, Vignette Roundness 0, and Vignette Center x 0.00/y 0.00. The Masking was set to Spot Transition 1.00 and Color Aware 0.71. At the bottom of the panel the Opacity was set to 1.00 Opacity and Lighter Color Blend Mode. The Masking section can be crucial as to how the effect fits into the image. Also the Vignette color can be adjusted to get some nice additional effect on the image.
This image of Holyrood Abbey illustrates more of the artistic feel I think Bobbie was going after. This time the Color section was also used with the above preset and the reds and yellows were adjusted. Also the Lighting section was used to add Brightness, Contrast and a white Vignette. Definitely need to play around with these settings as they can make a big difference in how the final effect looks. The vignette adds to the white space around the image (these settings were used: Vignette 0.71, Vignette Strength 1.00, Vignette Transition 0.72, Vignette Roundness 0.66 and white color). For more image info, check Image 2 Info below. Once you get to this point, it is time to go into the Mask section – and once again I used the Spot Tool. Bobbie used the Luminosity and Brush tabs in her examples, but for this technique, I prefer the Spot Tool (which I could never find a good use for before, so this is nice). The screen capture below shows what the mask looks like – by moving the Edge Aware slider to the right, a more precise selection appears. Adjust the circle into an oval to make the selection fit the image properly.
Another example of using the same Topaz Impression2 preset, this time turning the result into a black and white. This image was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo where these beautiful lions were resting in the sun on a Spring day. This time Topaz Glow2 was used to get a nice lighting effect-used Blake Rudis’s Animal preset. On a stamped layer, Topaz Impression 2 was opened and the same SJ Leopard Preset by Bobbie Goodrich was used with these setting changes: Spill -0.61, Smudge 0.12, Coverage 0, Coverage Transition 0.03, Coverage Center X-0.25/Y0.26; Color Red Hue 0.03 and Sat -1.00; Lighting Brightness -0.21, Contrast 0.12, Highlight 0.52, and Shadow 0.67; and Masking Spot Transition 0.87 and Color Aware 0.65 – centered just on the faces. For more info on image, check out Image 3 Info below.
This effect was a lot of fun to do – give it a try if you want a pretty card or gift label. You definitely have to experiment with the Coverage sliders, Vignette sliders and the Masking tabs to get different looks. Changing the Stroke number from Low to Med or High gives very different looks. Even if the colors do not look just right, they can be adjusted back in PS with the Color Balance or Selective Color Adjustments Layers. I want to try some further experimentation with it, but this is definitely an effect I like. Until next week, have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd
IMAGE 1 INFO: This image was actually taken with my Android – just did the normal Basic Panel adjustments in Lightroom. In Photoshop it took a lot of clone stamping to get rid of the price tags. Luckily they were all pretty small. On a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Lucis Pro (no longer available) was used to sharpen the overall image (any sharpening filter could be used, it just needed some sharpening at this point). On a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) ReStyle was used to get a nice color palette – used Ash Gray and Eggshell preset with minor changes. On another duplicate layer, Topaz Glow was opened and My Bliss preset was downloaded from the Community – while in the plug-in, the preset was set to Multiply blend mode at 50% opacity. On another stamped layer, the Topaz Impression 2 preset from above was applied. Last step was to add a little Nik Viveza 2 to the image to really sharpen up the focal point.
IMAGE 2 INFO: Topaz Adjust was used to add contrast to the overall image using the Adaptive Exposure and Adaptive Regions sliders. On a stamped layer Topaz Clarity was used to add contrast (check out Topaz Labs webinar Creative Essentials with Topaz Plug-ins Plus the Official Introduction to Glow 2 by Joel Wolfson for more info on this.) Then Topaz Impression 2 was applied with the above info on a stamped layer. Back in PS, the image was cropped to balance the image. Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the focal point. Since I was not quite happy with the color effect, a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to add a little blue to the shadows and yellow to the highlights.
IMAGE 3 INFO: After adding Topaz Glow 2 and Impression 2, a stamped layer was created and Nik Silver Efex Pro2 was opened and the Fine Art (High Key) preset was applied. On another stamped layer, believe it or not, Topaz Black & White Effects’s Tone II was applied with the Red filter chosen and Transparency set to 0.28. It was set to 52% layer opacity. Two Exposure Adjustment Layers were added for the female eyes and nose. Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and the Soft Grunge Mauve Fog – Basic Adjustment Brightness 0.29, Shadow 0.18, Highlight -0.22, Clarity 0, Sat -0.20, Temp 0.08, Tint -0.02 and Enable Masking-Mask Luminosity 0.45 and Range 0.75; Texture Brightness -0.12, Contrast 0.26, Detail 0.45, Sat 0.37, Color Strength 0.36, and Color 0.28; Color Overlay #71595c (R113/G89/B92), 0.39 Opacity, and Soft Light blend mode; and Masking section painted just a little back to the face using a Strength of 0.34.
Just getting back into the swing of Photoshop. Decided to try and get a fine art feel from my images taken at the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden – a monotone feel was needed since the greenery around the sculpture was overwhelming the beauty of the actual sculptures.
For the above image, first on a duplicate layer the Refine and Place panel was used to select the sculpture and remove it from the background. It was added as a layer mask to the layer. Then two texture were stacked underneath the texture.
Texture: The first one was one of my textures and was actually made in Photoshop using Just Jaimee 2012 Summer Brush Sampler Freebie – painted with her Texture Brush using a light gold color, on New Layer another Texture Brush layer used a light grayish blue around the sides a little, and on a third layer the Misty Brush created an upper right lighter goldish area. Then on another New Layer, blended around the edges with a mixer. Once saved as a JPG, it was brought into the image set to Normal blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Very simple to create. The second texture was by Kim Klassen called Pinit 11, which was a white and slightly gray cement texture – very easy to do photograph a similar texture yourself. It was set to Pin Light blend mode at 55% layer opacity.
Google (Nik) Silver Efex Pro 2: On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, applied the now free Silver Efex Pro 2 to the image using the High Structure (harsh) preset which really emphasized the texture in the background. Global Adjustment Structure section was changed to 33% and the Midtones to 27%. The only other change from the original preset was to change to Toning to No. 13, which give the beautiful color in the image.
Did a little Dodging and Burning using Curves Adjustment Layers to emphasize the sculpture properly. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn and Image blog.) Last step involved creating a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to just blend the whole image together by pulling slightly down. (See my How To Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) Used Photoshop’s Lighting Effect Filter with a Spot light to slightly lighten up behind the sculpture – set to 63% layer opacity. The font is called Gadugi from Microsoft. That is all that was done other than cleaning a few areas that did not blend correctly including the sculpture stand. I really enjoyed working on this image!
The palm trees above reminded me of nature’s sculptures versus the beautiful Gardens sculptures. I wanted a dreamy effect and it turned out to look a little like an infrared shot. The sculpture is called Forgotten World III by Norman Sunshine. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no long available) was used to sharpen up the image first. Silver Efex Pro2 was used again but this time the Fine Art High Key preset was applied without the frame and some contrast adjustments to start getting that dreamy feel – played with the Soft Contrast to get that feel. On a stamped layer Topaz (for website, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Lens Effects and applied the Moderate Diffusion filter as is. Topaz Impression 2’s Cave Dweller I was applied as is on another stamped layer. Used On1 Effects 10’s (for website, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Strong Vignette as is and set it to 62% layer opacity in PS. Did a little dodging and burning around the palm trees to differentiate them from the background. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) Some clean up was done and that was it!
If you have an image that is just overwhelming your subject, try going to a monochromatic effect to help isolate your subject better. It works really well with the green and yellow images. Hope you have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Updated Blog as of 8/10/18 due to bad links and inaccurate info. I was going to take a break from posting this week, but felt I had to share what is going on with the Lucis Pro 6.0.9 plug-in – a nice short video on the plug-in has been added called Lucis Basics if you are interested in what it is actually doing to your image. It works fine in Photoshop CC 2015.5 and CS6. I have not tried other versions of Photoshop, but I believe it would work fine. I am finding I use this plug-in a lot – sometimes at just a very low layer opacity to sharpen up details and it can reduce noise in one particular noisy channel. This image of the Flagler Kenon Pavilion at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach used their Technique #8 to get this result. Instead of desaturating this image, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 High Structure (Smooth) preset was applied as is. On a duplicate layer, Lucis Pro 6 was applied using these settings: Mix with original image – 57/43 and Enhance 83. Duplicated the layer again and applied Lucis Pro 6 again with these settings: Mix with original image 47/53 and Enhance 123. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to Hue 187, Saturation 8, and Lightness -7 with the Colorize box checked. This is all that was done to get the really nice sketch effect. Recently I created a blog called Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) which shows a few more examples of the wonderful effects this plug-in can produce.
Anyway, if you are like me and have always loved the Lucis Arts effects, this is the time to get it. I am not sure they will be updating this plug-in since they are closing down the website. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do. Now off to take that break!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I decided to try a little in-camera photo effect and then post-process in Photoshop. In my mind, this is the best of both worlds when trying to put an artistic feel into an image. The above was first shot with my Nikon D-300 camera (I dearly love this camera and can’t seem to part with it!) and shot the image in multiple-exposure mode using just 2 shots. I am not really sure how this type of exposure is supposed to look, but this method seems to fit floral or plant images quite well. This image was taken in my front yard of a Queen Emma Lily in front of a Cardboard Palm. I see this as a very creative blend of the two exposures but it did take some finishing work in Photoshop to get the final interesting feel.
So first the basic workflow for taking a multiple- or double-exposure shot will be covered. It is not that difficult but do consult your camera manual to get the exact menu settings to do this. I will be using the Nikon D-300 menus, which due to its older age, should be similar to what is available on most newer cameras.
1 First set your camera to Manual Focus. To do this on my camera, looking at the front of the camera the Focus Mode Selector dial is located to the lower right of the lens. The dial should be set to M for manual (as opposed to C for continuous auto focus or S for single auto focus). Note: For my camera, if either the Camera body or the Lens is set to Manual focus, then it must be focused manually. Many of the lenses will have a Manual focus setting also (usually the lens is set to M/A – switch to M to make it focus manually). I am using the Camera Body setting for this.
2. On the back of the camera, press the Menu button and select the Shooting Menu. Then Scroll down to the Multiple Exposure choice.
- Select the number of exposures to shoot – the above was just a double exposure so it was set to 2. Up to 10 are allowed.
- Select whether to turn on Auto Gain. The difference is that when it is on, the exposure time is divided by the number of exposures chosen for the image, and when off, each exposure is exposed for the full amount of time (meaning shutter speed). I had it turned off, but try both to see which looks best.
3. In my camera I need to turn on the Multiple Exposure setting each time an image is to be taken.
It sounds a lot harder than it is. Just have to get familiar with where the settings are. Now you can try different camera settings to get different results. For the above, both of the in-camera exposures were shot using the basic Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens set to 105 mm at F/5.6. Below is what the original out of camera image looks like. First the palm exposure was taken, then moved the camera and took the lily.
Post-processing: In Lightroom a Trey Radcliff free preset called Sunday Alone Time was applied and then the Vibrance was lowered (-65) so it was not so colorful. In Photoshop the layer was duplicated and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow was opened and my SJ Inter Web Variation was applied. (Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) The Layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode at 96% layer opacity. A black layer mask (CTRL+click on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added and just the areas I wanted lines to show through were painted back. The Layer Style was opened (double-click on the layer) and on the Underlying Layer slide, the white tab was split (ALT+click) and set to 178/255 before exiting the menu. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. Three filters were used: Midnight with no Blur added, and overall opacity of 73%; Reflector Efex set to Gold with the light coming from bottom up; and Vignette Filter using a darkish brown color and centering on the focal point. Next the also free Nik Viveza 2 (downloads with the above plug-in) was opened and just one control point was placed in the center area to add a little more structure and whitening to the focal point. Last step involved using a New Layer to clean up lines – Grut’s – MI Swish Mini Mixer brush was used to break up the edges of some lines that were too sharp – I love this brush! Check out his other brushes too – so many wonderful ones! This image turned out to be a lot of fun and created a very different type image!
Another double-exposure image – used the same Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens sets 150 mm and F/5.6. This was shot with white blinds behind the flowers in a vase and sunlight strong outside. This time for the first exposure just the focus was set to a very soft blur, then the second focused in on the flower to get this soft effect. The double-exposure created an almost translucent feel in the flower petals by shooting into the lighter background. In Lightroom just a few adjustments were made before going into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was added. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Glamour Glow filter and Film Efex Vintage filter (Film Type 13) were stacked. A pink pastel texture of mine was added on top and set to Darker Color blend mode with a layer opacity of 55% – a layer mask was added and the texture was gently painted off the flowers.
These dandelions were shot using the same lens at 170 mm and F/5.6. Once again, the background was really defocused for the first exposure and then brought the foreground dandelions into focus for the second. My first thought was to convert this to a black and white so it was brought into Photoshop and the free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (downloads with the other Nik plug-ins) was opened. The Fine Art (high key, framed) preset was selected and the frame removed. Then a Finishing Adjustment using Toning 22 was used to give a warm tone to the overall image. There are lots of really great sliders in this plug-in so give them a try! It was set to 75% layer opacity and actually gives a really nice look at this point. But to get an artistic feel in the image, first 2 Lil’ Owl’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Stained Plaster Collection 17 texture was added to the image and on a layer mask, the foreground dandelions were painted back without the texture. On a stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Brandeis Blue preset was applied. Next another 2 Lil’ Owls texture called After the Rain 14 was added and set to Multiply blend mode at 85% opacity. Another one of her textures was added called Grunge 27 and it was set to Color Dodge blend mode. This added some texture in the bottom foreground – a black layer mask was used to remove all of the texture except this area. That is what was done to get the final image.
I hope this was not over everyone’s head – it really is just a way to change up an image and possibly get a different result. Many people go to much more extremes on shooting the double-exposure adding very different items, more like the first image. And many people are into creating silhouettes for the first exposure and then shooting small flowers for the second exposure for some incredible results. Since I am rather new at this, I stayed pretty basic with this. It does sound like it would be fun so I may have to try that for second go-round on this topic. Therefore if you just want to try something new, give this a try. It is a lot of fun and the final effects can be quite dramatic!…..Digital Lady Syd
Decided to do something different with this bronze giraffe sculpture this week. It is part of the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach and was created by Henry Mitchell in 1959 – and was one of my favorites at the Garden. This workflow actually began with finding an image in an old 2003 Digital Photo magazine that used Find Edge and Gaussian Blur filters, which were blended into a black background to get a nice sketchy look.
Since I have Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link) Simplify, it was used instead of the Find Edge filter. My final image does not look like the original image from 2003, but since Photoshop now has so many more nice features, I believe it is a better result.
So the first step was to apply Topaz Simplify 4 using an old preset I created called SJ S Ramelli (not sure where these settings were found: Global Adjustments – Simplify: Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.28, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0.00, Details Boost 1.00, Details Size 0.20, Remove Small 0.00, and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust: Brightness 0.08, Contrast 1.00, Saturation 1.44, Saturation Boost 1.00, Dynamics 0.42, Structure 1.00, Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges: Edge type Mono Line – Normal, Edge Strength 2.40, Simplify Edge 0.42, Reduce Weak 16.39, Reduce Small 0, Fatten Edge 0.82; and Finishing Touches: Vignette – Vignette Strength -0.42, Vignette Size 0.10, Vignette Transition 0.60, and Vignette Curvature 0.66; and Transparency – Overall Transparency 0.12). This actually gave a pretty nice effect just by itself!
Next a Black Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added above the background layer. This way, the color can be changed quickly if a different background is wanted. It was left to black in this case.
On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) the giraffes were roughly selected using the Quick Selection Tool and the new Select and Mask panel (old Refine Edge panel) was opened. I just figured out that for me, once in this panel, sometimes instead of using the Onion Skin View, I prefer the On White View set to about 70% opacity – then the Brush which is the third icon down on left was used to paint in or out areas that needed to be cleaned up. This way a very good selection can be obtained – the Refine Edge brush was not even needed. The panel was closed selecting the Output To: New Layer with Layer Mask in dropdown. The Select and Mask panel did a very good job, but more clean up work was needed on the layer mask. The key is to get a really good layer mask, and it may take some effort to finish cleaning up the mask, to get a good result.
Since the faces were getting lost in the texture of the image, the original background layer was copied and placed on top with a black layer mask (CTRL+I in layer mask to make black). With a really low opacity brush of 12%, the faces were very softly painted back to show the eye and ear details. On another stamped layer the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used to light up the giraffes – emphasis was placed on the faces and necks, and not so much on the legs. Note that a a soft yellow color (R249/G245/B98) was used and the original texture of the image was added back using the Red Channel set at a Height of 9. By trying different channels and heights, very different results can be achieved. See screenshot below of the settings for this layer.
Since the image still lacked a little pizzazz, on a New Layer a little vine regular brush was selected, but I was very tempted to use a Glitter brush. Just wanted a brush to give a bit of fantasy look to the image. To add color into the brushstrokes, a Pattern Overlay layer style (double click on a layer to open Layer Style Panel) using a pattern with orange and bluish tones was added to it. The layer was set to a lower layer opacity.
The image now has that fantasy look which I really like.
These dainty dandelions were taken at F/2.8 with my Nikon 60 mm Macro Lens with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro added to the lens. I love the results I get with this set up. I wanted to try another fantasy image using similar workflow as above on the giraffes. This time, instead of using the Quick Selection Tool and the Selection and Mask panel, the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 was used to select these blooms. Below is a Screenshot of how this was achieved. It leaves in tack all the little odd ball edges that would be impossible to get, even with the new and improved PS panel. Using the Control Points really helps select the weed. When back in PS, the stems and centers of the weeds were lightly painted back a white layer mask to add back a little color in these areas.
Then some clean up was done on a New Layer to further paint black on any areas that are not totally darkened out. On a stamped layer, Lucis Pro 6.0.9 was used to further define the edges (Enhance slider set to 143 and the Assign Original Image Color was set to 0/100%. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.)
Next the Vine brush was used again with a different Pattern added in the Layer Styles Pattern section. Here is something to note: When Layer Styles are added to a layer, it is best to duplicate the layer and rasterize it to maintain the color in the layer style. That is what I had to do here, duplicate the layer, rasterize it (right click on layer and select rasterize – it will flatten just that one layer), then turn the eyeball off on the original layer in case it is needed to go back into to adjust. On another New Layer Kyle T Webster’s Inkbox Spatter Punk brush was used to give the glitter effect and set to layer opacity of 72%.
A couple Lighten and Darken Curves Adjustment Layers were used to dodge and burn the image in the flowers. (See my How To use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image Blog.) Also a New Layer was created, set to overlay, and with a light yellow color on a soft small round brush, the centers of the flowers were painted in to add a little emphasis to the focal points. (See my How To Add a Spot of Light blog.) The last step was to create another stamped layer and apply Topaz Detail to the image – this time to soften some of the puffy flower areas that had become a bit too crunchy looking. Used the Soft and Dreamy III preset and painted out the colored background so it was not affected by the preset inside the plug-in. Then applied it and added a white layer mask. This time painted out areas of the flowers that I wanted to remain detailed.
This was fun to try out the Lighting Effects Filter in PS which I do not use nearly enough. I am also getting more comfortable with the Select and Mask panel in the latest version of PS CC. The one that surprised me most was how the flowers in the second image could be selected pretty closely with the Silver Efex Pro – very easy to do! This is it for this week – hope you have had a chance to try out some of these Photoshop effects – they are really good!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I thought I would just show a quick image that used Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, one of the 7 plug-ins in the now free Google (Nik) Collection. I do not do much HDR shooting anymore, but here is an image taken a few years ago that used 5 bracketed shots. If you like to shoot HDR, I would definitely check out this software – it is different from both Lightroom’s and Photomatix Pro’s HDR results. I had done a previous review years ago (see my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 blog) and still love the plug-in as much as before. So here were the quick steps that got this effect:
- From Lightroom, all the images were selected and opened in Photoshop as individual files.
- Next the plug-in was opened in Photoshop by going to File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR Efex Pro2 – press the “Add open file” and then the Merge Dialog button. You can click the check box for Create Smart Object so you can go back in and adjust effect. (Can apply plug-in from LR by going to File -> Export with Preset -> Merge to HDR Efex Pro2.)
- Check Alignment if images not shot on a tripod. Same with Ghost Reduction – move slider at bottom to show image that shows image with movement that looks best as in clouds or trees. Always check Remove Chromatic Aberration.
- Now just presss Create HDR – a tiff file is created.
- The Default preset is automatically applied to the image. Now the fun is going through all the presets and see which one(s) look best on the image. Experiment with the sliders on the right. Tone Compression is the amount of HDR effect seen – set all the way left there is no HDR effect. Method Strength slider goes from very weak to very crunchy looking. All the other sliders can create some nice effects. If you find a combination you, just create a preset by pressing the (+) sign in the Custom section on the left. The above image used the Deep 2 preset to start.
- Note this image is now set to 32-Bits/Channel – this is a huge file and lots of PS effects and actions will not run on it. I change it to 16 or 8 bit mode so I can do things as in the next step. Go to File -> Mode -> 8-Bits/Channel. This causes the file to be merged down and the Smart Object is rasterized. (If you duplicate the Smart Object and rasterize the layer, turn the eye off the bottom Smart Object layer, and now change the mode, select Don’t Merge Layers, the Smart Object info can be retained in the layer that is turned off – sort of a hassle, but it can be done.)
- Here is a tip from one of my favorite Photoshop people, Scott Kelby, which he offered in his videos on this plug-in. Apply the HDR effect and then take the resulting effect into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (another wonderful plug-in and is included in the download bundle) and select the Glamour Glow filter set to the default preset. He says it is the magic that really pulls the realistic HDR effect together and does not look over-the-top. That is what was done above.
To finish up the image, the waterfall was blurred so it looks a little more like a long exposure. (See my Smoothing Out Those Waterfalls blog on how to do this.) In this case, two Motion Blur layers were created since the water flows in a couple different directions. Also the slight blue chromatic aberration edging in the small sky in the upper left was removed by using the technique in my A New Look at Chromatic Aberration blog – worked beautifully. That is all that was done.
Here is an image that used the Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 plug-in that was done a while back. Just another good example of how this looks. I really like the effect in the skies. This image used Grannys Attic preset.
The London of Parliament image taken several years ago used both the free Nik HDR Pro Efex 2 and free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (see my Make an Ordinary Image Interesting Tidbits Blog for info on how to do this.)
Here is another example using the previous version, Nik HDR Efex Pro – I really liked how this image turned out – it the used Grannys Attic preset, but it had some different parameters in the first edition, which was also very nice.
Hope you will download this Google (Nik) collection of plug-ins – you will not be disappointed. As far as the HDR Efex Pro 2 goes, as Scott Kelby says, try it as it has a little different look from other HDR software and you might really like it. This is true of all their plug-ins – give them a try. I have always loved the Nik plug-ins – they run very smoothly even on older computers. When used with a Smart Object, the settings are preserved, even the control points that are used to localize the effects, so you can go back and adjust later. Sad to see this is probably the end of this plug-in but at least everyone now has a chance to use it. Have a great week experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd
Unusual vintage hearse at Univeral City’s City Walk Horror Night in Orlando, Florida (for a nice video of this event see Halloween Horror Nights 2012 at Universal Studios Orlando). This image was created by using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, duplicating the layer and painting out the center in a layer mask to retain some of the original color of the image. Brushes used: BB’s Fogs and Mists Brushes; Halloween Spider font with a layer style that includes a Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Inner Glow, Color Overlay and Outer Glow effects; Obsidian Dawn’s Halloween Vectors and Cobweb Brush Collections; Pureanodyne Halloween Brushes, and Janine Smith’s Vintage Halloween Brushes. Finally OnOne (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) PhotoFrame 4.6 was added. I think it is a pretty spooky image!
This is an image I created a year ago on my Tidbits Blog – see Spooky Halloween Fun! for info on how I created it.
Here is another image I created on my Tidbits Blog – see Halloween Resources – Time to Go Batty! for information on how it was created.
Image from my second blog post two years ago. See Around My Neighborhood. Still love it!
…..This may be my favorite bat image – the Haunted House at The Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. This image was included in a previous blog called Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software.
It is a lot of fun to create your own Halloween images. Give it a try. Have a Happy Halloween!…..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 week I have been pondering this question. Since this is such a large subject for me, I am making this a two part blog so I can show some other workflows to try next time. (See Can a Pseudo HDR Image be as Good as the Real Thing? (Part Two))It seems there is so much software and so many tutorials on both subjects available and it gets pretty confusing. What really works and is it possible to get that HDR look with just one photo (hence Pseudo HDR)? In my many past blogs on Pseudo HDR, I have had a pretty fair amount of success getting one image pretty close to a true HDR look. When creating a Pseudo HDR image, only one image is used. I have to admit that I am horrible about dragging my tripod with me so I hand hold when shooting – many times one or more of the images are totally blurry so I am stuck using just one.
The image above is the actual HDR image to use for a quick comparison. It was taken at Flagler College (the old Ponce de Leon Hotel) in St. Augustine, Florida. Only three shots were bracketed using exposure compensations set to 0, -1, and +1. The shot was taken knowing it would make a great HDR image – the girl never saw me taking the image as she was so engrossed in her book, but she really makes the picture pop. Katrin Eismann’s method for processing HDR images (see my blog HDR Using Photoshop Merge to HDR and Nik”s HDR EFex Pro and Silver Efex Pro? Wow!) was used although there are several other techniques out there that do a great jobs in HDR (see Related Blog Links below for more information on this). Basically I just followed her workflow.
This image used my SJ Pseudo HDR preset in Lightroom (or ACR) to begin the HDR process on the the 0 Exposure Compensation image. I followed my workflow (see my blog Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4 for steps and all download links) which entails using my SJ Pseudo1 Recipe in NIK Color Efex Pro 4. Below is the original NEF file as downloaded from the camera. The presets I created for Lightroom and ACR create a warmer tone than the original image and the processing in both Katrin’s HDR workflow and my Pseudo HDR workflow produced dramatically different colors. To get this closer to what the beautiful brickwork really looks like in the single image, I used Dr. Brown’s ACR script twice to cool down the original major orange yellow tint. Adobe Camera Raw is the only place that is easily accessible to adjust orange (especially for skin tone adjustment) so it was the logical place to work on this color issue. The first attempt I adjusted the HSL panel and changed all three settings for the Reds, Oranges, Yellows and Greens. I still did not like the result so the second time around the Temperature and Tint was adjusted and more Hue changes. I think I finally got the result I like, but it still has a little too much beige-yellow tone in it. (See my blog Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script.) The true HDR image has more colors in the image and the detail is still a little more distinct even though the pseudo image was sharpened extensively. On the other hand, the bikes pop more in the single image and appear to be closer in color to the original image.
Above you can really see in this 2 to 1 blow up of the back wheel chain area the difference between the detail and color toning. (Single image on left and HDR on right.) I definitely like the sharper detail on the true HDR but the color and saturation of the colors in the single image is quite appealing, especially when viewed overall.
When I look at the original, I have to admit I even like the softer tones. Makes you ponder whether an HDR was really necessary in this case – which is a whole other area to cover. Next week I am going to apply some Topaz Adjust and OnOne Perfect Effects filters (for website links, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) to this image and see if the results are as good. Both plug-ins give some great HDR results with the right image. I also have another totally different type of workflow using just one image that can give some fabulous results when used correctly. Until then, try processing a single image and compare it to your HDR results and see what you get. I am not sure which one of mine I like best…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Different Images – Same Look Using HDR!
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
With One Good Photo – Try the Pseudo HDR Effect
Why I Love Topaz Adjust!
Nik HDR Efex Pro Example
Another Pseudo HDR from Me!
Problems for Big Ben
Pseudo HDR in OnOne Perfect Effects
Every time I listen to a new webinar or tutorial on Photoshop, a different way of doing something pops up. That is exactly what happened this time when I listened to Creating Texture, Color, & Sharpness by Katrin Eismann, a recent Nik Webinar. I have always loved Katrin – she was a good presenter at the Photoshop Worlds I attended and has a great book called Photoshop Masking & Compositing that is currently being updated. Katrin has come up with an interesting way of processing HDR photos and I have to say it works as good as any other method I have tried. Katrin uses this method whenever she wants to bring out the image texture, color or sharpness.
The above image is the Subaru Telescope on top of Mauna Kea (altitude 13,460 feet) on the Big Island in Hawaii and is located near the Keck Telescopes. Katrin uses a very basic way of processing her HDR photos. This image was composed of five HDR images (hand-held – I was lucky as it was very cold and windy when this was taken) and follows her basic workflow. Below are the steps to create this type of HDR image:
1. Without making any changes to the images, in Bridge select your HDR images and go to Tools -> Merge to HDR Pro or in Lightroom select the HDR images, right click, and choose Edit In -> Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop.
2. Once opened up in Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop, a tone-mapped image appears. Check the Remove Ghosts box and one of the thumbnails will be selected with a green border around it. Click on each thumbnail to see which image has the most pleasing effect in the areas with movement such as the wind in the trees, water movement, clouds in the sky, etc. Choose the image that has the most pleasing look in these areas. Click on it to choose if not the one selected. No other adjustments are made – just click OK and go out of Merge to HDR Pro. She does this step because of the ease of using this “deghosting” feature. Say okay to go back into Photoshop.
3. Right click on image layer and select Convert to Smart Object.
4. Go to Filter -> Nik Software -> HDR Efex Pro. This takes your single Photoshop processed HDR image into the Nik program. She starts by looking at the presets – her favorite is the Clean City 1 preset even for landscapes. Katrin usually increases the Global Structure slider to 20% or so to make the detail sharper. At this point the Method can be changed globally and Control Points can be added to increase or decrease the individual effects in localized parts of the image.
5. Go to Filter -> Nik Software -> Silver Efex Pro 2. She likes the High Structure (Harsh) preset but look at others for one you may like. The color filter, film type, grain, tones, edges, and vignette can now be changed or added. Try all the sliders to get the right effect. Click okay and go back to Photoshop.
6. The image is now black and white but color is what is needed. Therefore, double-click in the right-hand side on the little icon for the Silver Efex Pro 2 Smart Filter line item. This brings up the Blending Options dialog box. Try out different blend modes on the image and set different opacities. If parts of your image are too dark or too light, go back into your filter by double-clicking on the text in the left side of the line item and open up the filter again – add a control point and/or adjust sliders to fix problem areas – this is the beauty of Smart Filters! You can still set a different blend mode and opacity for your top Smart Filter Layer too!
That’s it! Pretty simple technique that gives some really nice detailed images. For the top image while in Nik HDR Efex Pro, Clean City 1 preset was used with a control point added to the building itself (Structure slider set to 100%, Contrast to 30% and Warmth to 85%) so texture and detail of the building could be further captured. Since I wanted a golden sunny tone, the Fine Art Process preset was selected in Silver Efex Pro 2 and changes were made to the Color Filter Details settings (Hue 53 degrees and Strength 150%), and Finishing Adjustments Toning settings (changes to Strength 73%, Silver Hue 30 degrees, Paper Hue 50 degrees, and Paper Toning 73% – gives the yellow glow) and Vignette settings (Amount -6%, Full Rectangle, and Size 33%). For this image, the Hard Light Blend Mode was applied at 42% opacity to the Silver Efex Pro line item (see Step 6).
Here is another image of the smaller telescopes on Mauna Kea – this is a pretty busy place for so high up in the air and that is snow in the center left! Now, what is really cool is that the same settings for the first image were applied to this image without even going into the programs. You still have to take your images into Merge to Photoshop Pro and create a single tone-mapped image and then turn the layer into a Smart Object (Steps 1 and 3 above), but then all you do is drop and drag the individual smart filters line layers into your new image and it now matches the first image in tone and color. If the result is not quite right, go back into the individual filters and delete any localized Control Points that will still be set from the first image. The above is not as pretty an image as the first one, but it definitely got the correct tone and color saturation as the Subaru Telescope picture. To finish off both the images, I added Nik Viveza 2 to the Smart Filter layer. The Smart Filter layer was duplicated (CTRL+J), then flattened by right clicking on the layer and choosing Rasterize in the pop-out menu. The final steps are your own workflow – I added layers for clean up, noise removal, Sharpen Tool to add localized sharpening, final contrast using a Curves Adjustment Layer, and OnOne PhotoFrame grunge 13 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website).
These beautiful mums are only 1 1/2 inches across and I grow them in a container on my porch. Still followed the workflow above using the Clean City 1 preset in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro with Global Structure set to 23% and Method to 20%. In Silver Efex Pro the High Structure (Smooth) was used instead of Harsh, and Control Points were added to the Flower Centers (Contrast 29%, Structure 100%, Amp White 29% and Fine Structure 80%) and one around all the white petals (Brightness 9%, Structure 70%, Amp White -100%, Amp Black 85%, and Fine Structure 97%). The Silver Efex Pro Smart Filter line item layer was set to Soft Light Blend Mode at 79% Opacity to turn the B&W image back to color (see Step 6). Viveza 2 was used to add more localized contrast. Next noise was removed and the image was sharpened. OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controller 11 was added in a deep blue – this is a frame that really complimented the image and covers a lot of background distraction. A layer mask was added to the PhotoFrame to paint back in the parts of the flowers that should be not be covered with the frame.
I am going to try this process out on several other images but so far I have to admit, they all look pretty sharp, colorful and detailed. Listen to the above linked webinar – it is very interesting as Katrin also covers several other topics. Try this method and see what you think!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
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I love this Hawaiian image of the wonderful wooden boats that run between the different stopping points along the one mile walkway at the Hilton Waikoloa Village resort. These boats are an absolutely great way to move about – and a great way to meet other people!
I tried a new technique to process all the landscape blog images that was learned from another of Nik’s great webinars! The first example in “Integrating the Complete Collection Workflow to Create the Dynamic Image” by Dan Hughes was used to create all these great effects. It does require that you own both Nik Photoshop plug-ins, Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4.
Here is the basic workflow.
1. First adjust the image in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw and bring it into Photoshop – clean up any problem areas and noise.
2. Go into Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 – this image used the High Structure (Harsh) preset, which seems to be a good starting place on most images tried (and Dan Hughes started with this one). Go to the Color Filter section and set the Color and Color Strength slider. Adjust globally the Contrast sliders and Structure sliders. If the clouds look too sharp, which they did in this image, use a (-) Control Point on the clouds to remove some of the effect in this area. Add (+) Control Points in areas you want more Contrast or Fine Structure. The Structure sliders add texture to the image and make it appear very sharp. Exit to Photoshop and change the Layer Blend Mode to Luminosity – this is an important step!
3. Open Nik Color Efex Pro 4. Any of your favorite filters can be selected but the above image and Nik’s example used these two filters stacked: Brilliance/Warmth – use the Perceptual Saturation slider which works like the human eye sees color; and Darken/Lighten Center which acts like a vignette. Exit to Photoshop.
4. Final steps to consider are adding a High Pass filter to sharpen the image further, and adding a Curves Adjustment Layer for additional contrast. Not all images will need these steps, but both were used on the image above using a High Pass Radius set to 8.9 and a Curves Adjustment Point set to -1/2. (See the tip on the image in my Tidbits Blog “I Didn’t Know That! Curves Adjustment Layers.”)
The view of the coastline from one end of the Hilton Waikoloa Resort used the exact same workflow as above. Nik’s Viveza 2 filter was added after the other two plug-ins to even out the saturation in the brown rock wall. This could have been done in Photoshop using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the mask filled to black – use a soft brush set to low opacity to bring in the saturation where you want it.
This is an image of the road up Mauna Kea volcano on the Big Island in Hawaii – it has a bit of a surreal feel but the wild yellow daisies were beautiful and unusual. The same basic workflow was used except that the stacked filters used in Color Efex Pro are the Detail Extractor, the Graduated Neutral Density to darken the top some, and Pro Contrast to make the yellow flowers show up more. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was targeted for just the flowers (using the same technique as on the wall above) to get the correct yellow tone. The original filters from the workflow were tried first, but the results did not look quite right to me so more experimenting had to be done until I came up with the ones used. Don’t get discouraged if you do not like the results with the filters you start with – there is always something in Color Efex Pro that will enhance even the most difficult images.
Image is of Lapakahi State Historical Park on the Big Island in Hawaii, which shows part of a 600 year old village ruins. It was processed using the above workflow and adding Midnight to the bottom of the stack to get a little less of that bright daylight look. Otherwise the same workflow was followed.
The Umauma Falls image is an example of a more difficult image to process. The first iteration used the settings in the workflow – it looked okay but the waterfalls were lost in the all the detail and color in the image. So I went back into Color Efex Pro 4 and started over. This time the following filters were stacked: Detail Extractor; Foliage to make the yellow flowers show up better; Remove Color Cast for the overdone yellow-green feel that is common in nature shots; Midnight – this filter made the image pop and gave it a “later in the day” feel (set to Color Set Blue, Blur slider moved way back to 10%, and the overall opacity of the filter set to 58%); and Vignette Blur using Type 3 to guide the eye through the image – a couple (-) control points were set on the waterfalls so they stayed in focus. After changing the plug-in filters, the whole image took on a totally different look. I think it gives a more unique look to the falls and does not look as much like your typical tourist shot.
QUICK TIPS: When working with Color Efex Pro 4, be sure to experiment with the Shadows and Highlights sliders at the bottom of many of the filters. By moving the sliders even just a little, you can bring out some missing details so be sure to check it out each time. Also, click on the arrow by the Control Points to get to the filter’s overall opacity sliders and try reducing some of the effect. The Midnight filter at 100% looked way overdone on the waterfall image. Press P to toggle between your original and your current look quickly.
If you have these programs, give this easy workflow a try – stacking the different Nik plug-ins can give some great results and takes your work to a higher level. And if you have not listened to some of Nik’s webinars, check them out – they have many great tips by some very knowledgeable people…..Digital Lady Syd
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NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
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Since I have been giving such glowing reviews to their newest competitor into the black and white plug-in world (Topaz Black & White Effects), I really should show you why, if you totally love black and white images, this is the plug-in you want. I was reminded by a webinar sponsored by NIK and featuring Dave Devitale called “The Creative Edge in Digital Photography” (the sound quality on this video was not good), that Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2) really does give wonderful results. The interface is familiar and similar to the other great NIK plug-ins so it makes getting up to speed really fast. The presets give you excellent quick looks at the different effects and make it easy to get a pleasing result without a lot of adjusting. NIK really knows how to put together a great plug-in and this one is no different. It’s biggest drawback is the price.
St. George Street in St. Augustine was processed in black and white due to a large contrast in the original image. A simple workflow was followed and was a pretty basic use of NIK’s SEP2. Clean up your image, duplicate it and make it a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Create Smart Object since SEP2 remembers your plug-in settings and control points), got to Filter -> NIK -> Silver Efex Pro 2 and look at the presets. The 015 Full Dynamic (harsh) preset was chosen as a starting point. An Orange color filter was used and Sensitivity colors were adjusted for the image. Toning 4 was added. Back in Photoshop the standard layers were added: a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust contrast, a Sharpen Tool layer, and a basic layer style for the framing. That’s it and you get a very nice black and white image.
This image followed a slightly different technique that Moose Peterson, the famous outdoor photographer recommended in a NIK video called “Finishing Techniques Using NIK Software.” The original image was processed in ACR and then brought into Photoshop. The background layer was duplicated and in SEP2, the Full Dynamic Smooth preset was applied for a starting point. Moose prefers this preset. Then he duplicates the black and white layer and opens up the NIK Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in – he likes the Neutral Density filter where he can adjust the tonality of the clouds. Back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer is added and its layer mask filled with black – it is then painted on with a 20% white brush to darken the foreground and add detail to the clouds. For a better explanation check out the video which is very good.
Above is the current Casa Monica Hotel (was the Cordova Hotel in 1888 when it was opened) in St. Augustine, Florida, and one of the grand old hotels of city. I have used this technique before when processing color images – a color image is opened, the layer duplicated and turned into a Smart Object, and the top layer is taken into the SEP2 plug-in to create a black and white effect. (See next image explanation for settings used in SEP2.) Once back inside Photoshop, different blend modes are tried for the black and white layer. In this case, the Screen blend mode was selected at 59% opacity. A Curves Adjustment layer was added. Finally a New Layer was created for use with the Sharpen Tool where I went over the edges of the building and some of the window details. I love the final postcard look – perfect for this type of historic building. The SEP2 settings listed for the next image are exactly the same for the hotel except the Image Border is Type 13.
This is of the backside of run down storefronts in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. I loved the slight touch of color and texture that came through in this image. The workflow was very similar to the one used on the image above – except this time the blend mode was left to Normal at 70% opacity. It gives a very different look even though the same oo5-High Structure (Harsh) preset was used in SEP2 with slightly different settings applied. Different Control Points were used to add extra contrast in localized areas and the green leaves were darkened using a Control Point. In the Film Types section the Orange Filter was used and in the drop-down, Film Type Kodak ISO 32 Panatomic X was selected as a starting point. The creamy color is achieved using Toning 14. A slight dark vignette was created and Image Border Type 2 was added. Be sure to create your own preset at this point if you find some settings you like by clicking on Add Preset and name it. In Photoshop the Sharpen Tool was used on the ironwork to bring out the detail a bit more and a final Curves Adjustment Layer was added.
The Tomorrowland Sign is an example of using two different layers for your effect. Duplicate your original layer (CTRL+J) and turn off the top layer. On the bottom layer, a Topaz Adjust Spicify preset was applied to the image. This gives the really bright and edgy look of the actual sign. Now on the top layer, go to SEP2 and convert your image emphasizing how you want to the background of the image to appear such as softening the lines. Once out of the plug-in, add a Layer Mask and carefully mask out the Tomorrowland Sign. The final step involves going to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur to make the black and white background a softer feel so it does not compete with the colorful sign for attention. I believe this is a really nice way to apply the SEP2 plug-in for a different look.
I hope this gives an idea of what can be achieved with what is considered the best black and white plug-in ever created. I have enjoyed trying some photos in this program and I would suggest that if you like black and white, it is worth a trial download to see what you think. Enjoy yourself and try out some new looks and techniques…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image
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Same Image-Different Look!