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
I have been experimenting with all types of sharpening methods over the last few months. I really liked the High Pass Sharpening method that is very popular, the new improved Sharpen Tool in Photoshop CS5, and the Smart Sharpen Filter that so many use. Recently I read Harold Davis‘ book The Photoshop Darkroom where he gives steps to sharping in the LAB Mode. I have now started using this method – it takes a little more time to do, but I believe it really gives the best results. Since I take a lot of time with my images, like to print them, and don’t batch process, it is important that each image gets the best sharpening I can do.
The above image of the fruit shop along the road on the Big Island in Hawaii is an good example of how nice the sharpening can be in an image. Both Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and Topaz Simplify 3 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) were used in Photoshop to get the rich colors. The LAB sharpening was done after most of the adjustments were made to the image in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Why use LAB Mode sharpening? The most important reason people use it is to keep the colors true and not be influenced by any color shifting that other RGB Mode sharpening may produce. By using a black layer mask, the image is first over-sharpen and then just areas that need the sharpening can be painted back into the image selectively and to various degrees so it does not have that over-sharpened look. This process also works really well on portraits where just the eyes are sharpened or on areas you want to draw attention to a certain part of an image.
The workflow steps to get this effect are easy:
1. Apply most of the filters and do clean up to your image before the next step. Just be sure there are no adjustment layers in the document or they will be discarded upon the conversion. You will need to save the image as an unsharpened version and then flatten it to proceed.
2. Go to Image -> Mode -> LAB – Click “Don’t Rasterize” and “Don’t Merge” buttons.
3. Duplicate the layer by clicking CTRL+J.
4. Go to the Channels panel and highlight the L channel.
5. Turn on the top eyeball so all channels are showing but only the L channel is highlighted.
6. Go to Layers Panel and to Filters -> Sharpen -> Unsharp Mask. I like Harold Davis’s recommendation to start with these settings and adjust from this point.
Radius 2.7 – The higher the Radius setting, the more sharpening occurs
Threshold 9 – The lower the Threshold setting, the sharper the image
Amount – somewhere between 50-120
Watch out for noise enhancement, especially when adjusting the Amount slider.
7. Add a black layer mask to layer by holding down the ALT key and clicking the Layer Mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel. Using a soft white brush set to 30% opacity, paint back in the areas you want sharpened leaving areas with noise or over-sharpened edges unpainted. Paint over several times to enhance the effect.
8. Go to Image -> Mode -> RGB and press the “Don’t Flatten” button. Now you can add your Curves Adjustment Layer and frames to finish up.
Dan Margulis (one of the first three people ever inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame) is the most knowledgeable person when it comes to using the LAB Mode and has written the best book ever on the subject, Photoshop LAB Color. He covers LAB sharpening very thoroughly.
Here is another example of how great this type of sharpening works – it is great to be able to localize where the actual detail is emphasized. This old vintage car was parked in front of the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. It is a three image HDR photo processed using Katrin Eismann’s workflow – see my blog HDR Using Photoshop Merge to HDR and Nik”s HDR Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro? Wow! (used Granny’s Attic preset in HDR Efex Pro and Structure Harsh in Silver Efex Pro). Nik’s Viveza 2 was used to increase the detail and color in the wheels and curtains in the windows. Then it was taken into the LAB mode and processed using the Unsharp Mask Filter (settings Amount 98/Radius 9.4/Threshold 1). Using a brush set to white at 30% opacity, the wheels, curtains and lettering were painted back in. I wanted the rest of the image to have that grungy old feel to it which HDR Efex Pro gave the image. OnOne PhotoFrame (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Kevin Kubota Flower was added as a last step.
The LAB Unsharp Mask was used on this image of an elephant puppet from Burma that was on display at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii. To see how it was processed see my blog Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Just Does It Right! The sharpening was applied as the last step and it was selectively painted in to just the details in the elephant but not the background. This really made the details in the puppet stand out. Also all the images but the Lightroom image in my blogs Can a Pseudo HDR Image be as Good as the Real Thing? (Part One) and Can a Pseudo HDR Image be as Good as the Real Thing? (Part Two) used this method on the bicycles very successfully.
I am not really sure why, but I definitely see an improvement in sharpness using the LAB method of sharpening. There are times when not that much needs to be sharpened in an image and the Sharpen Tool is enough or Nik’s Viveza 2 adds enough sharpening so this process is not necessary. I do think it works really great on my landscape and HDR images where I want a very clear edge on most of the objects. Give this easy method a try and see what you think…..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:
Use NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2 Together to Create Fabulous Landscapes!
NIK’s Champion Plug-in – Silver Efex Pro 2
Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software
Getting That Vintage Look!
Where Am I?
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
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4
NIK’s Champion Plug-in – Silver Efex Pro 2
Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image
Using NIK’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza Together