I was catching up on some videos from last year and ran across one that turned out to be really interesting. It is called How to Turn Your Zoo Photography into Fine Art with Lightroom by Serge Ramelli. Since I like to photograph animals at the various zoo and theme parks around here, I gave it a go and thought I would share his rather simple workflow. Be sure to check out the link as Serge offers 5 Develop presets and 2 Adjustment Brush presets to use on your images (and he also has some other very good videos on Photoshop at his site).
The image above is of a Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo – this is one of the tigers they use for demonstrating his breed – very nice cat. Once you have downloaded the presets and placed them in Lightroom (his video goes through this at the end), I always create a Virtual Copy to work with so the original can be used again if needed.
- Try looking at all his presets and choose one that looks good. The above image used his Zoo Base I preset. All the settings are set up so only a tweak here or there might be needed. The Develop Basic and Detail sections are where the adjustments are made. You can always go back to these after finishing the steps and adjust them more if the effect is not quite right.
- Now is a good time to Crop the image before you set up the Gradient Filters, but it can be done later.
- Select the Gradient Filter and add a New dot on on the right side of the image. Set the Effect drop-down field to Exposure or try out the Zoo Darken Brush. Now move the Exposure slider to select the correct amount of vignette, he softened the Clarity a little as it smooths the dark areas, and finally the Noise is set to +100. Just drag out the gradient towards the subject. Do this for the other three edges.
- Select the Adjustment Brush and in Effect drop-down, choose Zoo Darken Brush and paint in on parts that need to be darkened a little on main animal or subject. Switch to Zoo Brighten Brush in Effects drop-down and paint over areas that need to be lightened – basically doing dodging and burning here. Can adjust any of the other sliders to get the correct look and can add new points to get a great finished look. Try adding one for just the eyes by zooming in.
- Go back and tweak any of the settings since this is the beauty of Lightroom!
This is when I take my images into Photoshop and add some more filter effects. The tiger image used the Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in applied to it in specific places using Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor (control point on face only), Glamour Glow and Pastel (set to 46% opacity) filters. That was all that was done. Not sure mine exactly fine art but it does give a very pleasing look and the background has definitely been toned down a lot. Serge used more vignetting in his images so check out the video link for those settings.
This guy was definitely watching everyone in the area – I think he is in charge of this part of the Jacksonville Zoo. Used the same preset as above – the Zoo Base I is my favorite. Added the gradient filters and adjustment brush strokes and took the image into Photoshop. At this point the image had a lot more background color and was not cropped to the final size. In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used to do a little more sharpening and brightening in the right places. A black and white Adjustment Layer was added and set to 37% layer opacity to slightly remove the color. Then the final crop was done. The desaturated look seems to suit this guy.
This Giant Tortoise resides at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and is hard to miss! I think he is eating twigs. This time the Zoo Sepia preset was used as a starting point in Lightroom and more of the Basic sliders were adjusted to get a global effect that looked good. Then the Gradient Filters were added and the Adjustment Brush was used to brighten up his face. In Photoshop Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 Highlights was opened and the Highlight Detail 1 preset was selected. A black layer mask was added back in PS and just the focal areas were painted back in. On a Stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened up and a new preset was created. Used a rusty edged grayish texture, some edge blur for the background but not the turtle, a light leak that had some turquoise for the shell, and a few Basic Adjustment settings were applied. In the masking section, painted back the face a little. This layer was set to 67% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, used Nik Viveza 2 just on the face to lighten it up a little more. Last step involved adding a Levels Adjustment Layer to slightly flatten out the dark edges – painted back the face so it was not affected.
These presets are very nice. It is an easy way to really set off the animals and remove some of the distractions that are usually inside the cages. I am still experimenting with this technique, but it appears to have some good possibilities. I would encourage you to at least try out the presets and see what you thing. Serge has several other videos and presets available so check out those also. Hope everyone is enjoying this early Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd
This image was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. This little guy thought he had a pretty good hiding place, but I found him! I wanted to give him a very surreal surrounding and I think it happened using this week’s technique! Learned this from one of my favorite resource places, Creative Live, where a lovely lady named Kathleen Clemons presented a wonderful program called Creating Painterly Photographs. She was teaching how to both shoot and use Photoshop to give some very creative effects using mostly flower and leaf images. This got me thinking about how I could use some my favorite techniques and PS plug-ins to do get some interesting results also.
One of her PS suggestions was to try using the Motion Blur filter to get a different effect. That is exactly what was done in the image above. Very simple process to actually apply the filter. Below is the original image so you can see how the motion blur turns a rather busy image into a really nice painterly result.
- Duplicate your image.
- On this layer go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Now adjust to your liking. If you want a horizontal look as shown above, set the Angle to 0; if a vertical blur is needed, set Angle to 90 degrees.
- Add a layer mask to the blur layer and paint out where the effect should be removed. Use a low opacity brush if just a little bit of effect needs to be removed.
This is such a simple technique I am not sure why I had not thought of it myself! Now any of your other filters and textures can be applied with a very different look being created by the motion blur. Thank you Kathleen for bringing this to my attention! (Click on the original image below to see a larger view in Flickr of the Layer Panel – it can be clicked on to enlarge also.) At end of blog under Image 1 is a detailed paragraph on all the different layer steps shown here.
This image was taken at the Viera Wetlands also called Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. A very similar image is posted here from a Tidbits Blog for the original version. Used the workflow above but this time Topaz Lens Effects’s Lens Motion filter was used to create the Vertical motion blur although PS could have just as easily been used. See Image 2 below for more details on how this image was finished.
This beautiful gardenia was also taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Topaz Lens Effects Motion Blur filter’s Zoom was used to get this lovely effect. See Image 3 for more details. Kathleen definitely had some great tips for both photography, including how to use a Lens Baby, and Photoshop – if you like shooting flowers, she is a master at it! Hope everyone has a great weekend – I think I will go try shooting some more flower shots using Kathleen’s techniques this week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1 Info: First the PS Motion Blur settings used were Angle 0 degrees and Distance 375. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was used created. Then to bring out the Lizard more, the free JixiPix Spectrel Art’s Dark Lines preset with the Detail set to 74 was applied – then in PS the layer was set to Linear Dodge blend mode. Just the lizard was painted back in a black layer mask (just press ALT while clicking on the layer mask icon at bottom of the Layer Panel). Since the lizard was too bright, the Density slider in Properties Panel for the layer mask was set to 66%. This plug-in is a great way to add some detail back into an object that is not defined well. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-in blog.) Next on another stamped layer, the Liquify Filter’s Bloat Tool was used to increase the Lizard’s eye just slightly. Now an Exposure Adjustment Layer could be used to pop his eye so it could be seen even better. (See my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop.) Another stamped layer was created and Topaz Texture Effects was opened. Kathleen in her videos showed how to add a folder with your favorite textures in the Textures section of this plug-in. Just click the New box in the upper right corner of the panel in the opening screen. It turns into a Custom (preset) and the big (+ sign is clicked on. Only the Texture Panel was opened – by clicking on the little square next to the texture drop-down field, a new texture folder can be added. This is where loaded in a batch of many of the textures I created (but I could have added up my favorite 2 Lil’ Owls or French Kiss textures – see my Tidbits Blog for website links). Then all the sliders below can be applied to these textures very easily and areas can be masked out with a brush. Other panels can be added at the bottom or another Texture section can be added. This time I applied on of my first textures made in Corel Painter using Skip Allen’s Buttery Oils brushes. Then changes were made to the Opacity, Blend Mode, Saturation, Color and Color Strength in the plug-in. Lots of fun here! On a New Layer some clean up was done where edges looked bad. On another stamped layer, the now free Nik Viveza 2 was opened and 3 control points were added just to the Lizard to give his face and body yet more detail. Used a Curves Adjustment Layer to get rid of an overly bright section on a leaf in center of image. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.) On yet another stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Add Vignette Selective – Soft Olive Green preset was applied with these changes: Placement Adjustments – Focus Width 0.55 and Focus Height 0.45 – placed center on lizard (2989, 1404); Tonal Adjustments- Vignette Strength 0.20, Transition 0.40, Contrast 1.51, Brightness 53.02, and Opacity 25.25. I really like the olive color in lots of my images for a Vignette. Then two more Curves Adjustment Layers were created – following the Dodge and Burn technique above – to give the lizard’s head yet a little more pop and to soften down some of the vertical lines. Next Adobe Paper Texture Panel (this is free from Adobe) was opened, a Flypaper’s Raw Linen texture was applied using Linear Light blend mode at 25% layer opacity. This panel is a really cool way to see quickly what a texture will look like on your image. As you can see, I did not settle on a final color for this image until Topaz ReStyle was opened and saw the beautiful way some depth could be added to the image. Created yet another stamped layer and applied the Brandeis Blue preset with these changes: Color Style Hue Primary -0.70, Secondary -0.12, and Fourth -0.62; Lum Secondary -0.19 and Fourth 0.03; Basic Color Temperature 0.20 and Tint -0.34; and Detail Structure 0.34. A Selective Color Adjustment was opened to adjust color just a little more (Reds: Cyan +46%, Yellow -55%, and Black -28; and Yellows: Magenta -26 and Yellow -49). A clean up layer was added to soften some overly bright areas with a low opacity brush. Many of the layers had layer masks applied as you can see in the screenshot. It took a long time to do, but I like the final result now. This Lizard looks like he is really looking around!
Image 2: Lens Effects allows placing the effect in the image with different types of blur (Panning,Rotation, Shake, Spiral and two Zooms). This image used a Rotation (same as the vertical or horizontal effect in PS) – the Motion Amount is the same thing as the Distance in PS Motion Filter. Alien Skins Snap Art‘s Impasto Detailed was used for the texture and the Dodge and Burn Curves Adjustments Layers were used to emphasize certain areas. Lisa Glanz Flying Geese bird png was used with a Pattern Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers) using a sepia watercolor pattern to give the birds some light texture. Topaz ReStyle was used again (Hanging Orangutan – Set to Restyle Color blend mode, Hue Primary 0.02, Third 0.50 and Fifth 0.02; and Sat -0.42; Basic Saturation -0.16; Tone Black Level -0.05, Midtones 0.20 and White Level 0.05 ). The sky was white so I added the blue sky in Nik Viveza 2 using the Color Swatch – this turned out so natural looking. This is a good tip for Viveza which is very good with handling color problems.
Image 3: Wanted to point out that for this image, all the clean up was done first including using Topaz Detail 3 to sharpen the center of the flower and adding one of my textures to soften the background and painting back the flower (set to Overlay blend mode at 53% layer opacity). Two Curves Adjustment Layers were used to Dodge and Burn the background. Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken the corners of the image and add focus to the center. Then Topaz Lens Effects Zoom motion filter was applied. Last the text was added (it is a really old font from 1996 called Abigail and no recent link could be found – there is now a newer different font called Abigail that is not this one). On a New Layer above a simple flourish was added under the text. A Layer Style was created to give the nice effect on the text – learned this was an old Photoshop TV video from 2007 (Bevel & Emboss – Style Inner Bevel, Technique Smooth, Depth 276, Up, size 54, Soften 10, Shading Angle 120 degrees and Altitude 39 degrees (no Global Light on), Highlight Mode Screen at 93% opacity and Shadow Mode Screen at 28% opacity; Inner Glow Blend Mode Lighter Color, Opacity 74%, Noise 0%, Color set to Gradient going from a blue color (#0e2053) to white, Elements Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 0%, Size 70 px, Quality Range 50%; and Color Overlay set to Blend Mode Normal, Color Swatch a beige (#93815e) at 100% opacity). Change the overlay color to get different colors in your text.
Totally psyched that Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression updated their plug-in to Version 2. Know you will see lots about this on the internet, but I am enjoying using it so much I wanted to share some of my initial responses to the program. I am surprised how much more they added to what I considered already a fabulous program! The image above used the a Watercolor II preset with some changes created in version 1 and still works great in the newer version. I call it SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset and can be downloaded in the Community Library. (For more info on post-processing on all images, check out the end of blog – this will give you a feel how many different filters and plug-ins can work together to get these effects.) If you own Topaz Impression version 1, this update is free!!! Best deal around – all of Topaz Labs’s plug-in updates are always free once you own it!
- It is now much more similar to Topaz Texture Effects, which started out with this new interface that includes a Community where you can download presets when something different is needed. This has totally hooked me on Texture Effects, so the possibilities are endless as the Impression Community of presets are added.
- According to Denise over at the Topaz Labs blog, there are now over 30 new loaded presets plus those that will be available in the Community library. And the layers can now be set to all the Blend Modes inside the plug-in.
- New sliders and buttons have been added to the Stroke section – Number of strokes, Large Brush Volume to adjust large areas of color, and Rotation Variation to add randomness to the stroke effects; and in the Lighting section – new Highlight and Shadow sliders.
- My favorite new feature is the Masking section where there are four different masks with different sliders to make your image totally unique. According to Topaz Labs:
- The Spot Mask – Create a soft vignette effect, a subtle transition. It is somewhat like the Radial Filter in Lightroom or the Camera Raw filter.
- The Color Mask – Uses color value differences to create a mask that is great for images clearly defined by color edges.
- The Luminosity Mask – Uses luminosity values to determine edges for the mask and create it. It create detailed effects on light sources and glowing parts of image.
- The Brush Mask – Can brush the effect in and out, and touch up edges around your subject. Use the Color Aware tool to create a clean mask along edges of your subject. This is a wonderful way to add detail to your Focal Point of your image.
It appears that only one Mask can be used for each Impression layer. I particularly like this Brush tab to remove the painterly effect and enhance the detail in your focal point. The large Mask window is very useful to see what is being affected in your image. Wonderful effects can be achieved in this section!
This image of a restaurant located in the Cityplace shopping area of West Palm Beach used the Modern Urban Street Art III preset to get this very modern sketchy feel. (Changed the texture to Grass Patchy set to Texture Strength 0.89, Texture Size 1.00, and Texture Color of Red 255/Green 238/Blue 174).) In this case once the preset was applied, the layer was duplicated. The first layer was set to Color Dodge at 100% opacity and the second layer was set to Divide at 77% layer opacity. Layer masks were added and a few areas that did not look correct were lightly painted out with a soft black brush. This combination worked nicely on this image to give a real Florida look to the image. See Image 2 below for more post-processing info.
Another example of using this updated plug-in. This was a bird topiary of flowers at Cityplace in West Palm Beach – this was actually a fountain where suds had been introduced to the water. For some reason it felt right to add a slight painterly effect to give a wintry cool feeling. This image used one of Impression’s new presets, one which I really like, called Chalk Smudge. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool (white droplet) to remove areas looking too sharp (set to lower Strength). Opacity slider for all settings was set to 0.74 and to Normal blend mode. See Image 3 for more info.
As you can see, this update contains a lot of new things – some I have not fully explored. All-in-all, very nice update! For my version 1 review, check out my Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression blog. Once again the Topaz Labs group has done a wonderful job on their plug-in! I am sure I will be playing with this plug-in for days to come as the original was one of my favorite – now it is even better! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
POST PROCESSING INFO ON ABOVE IMAGES:
Image 1: Duplicated the layer and entered the Topaz Impression 2 plug-in. Went to the Community tab and downloaded my SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset to apply this result. In a layer mask back in Photoshop, lightly painted back just the two foreground flamingos to bring back a little bit of detail to the birds. Next used a blender brush on a New Layer to clean up a little bit of the messiness caused by the painterly preset from Impression 2. Used another New Layer to add a little line delineation on the trees. Created a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and took the layer into Topaz Black & White Effects. (Used my SJ Old Fountain preset. Settings included: Conversion Basic Exposure: Contrast 0.02, Brightness 0, Boost Blacks 0.06, Boost Whites 0.00; Adaptive Exposure: 0.30, Regions 8, Protect Highlights -0.05, Protect Shadows 0.00, Detail 2.00, Detail Boost 1.00, and check Process Details Independently; Finishing Touches: Silver and Paper Tone: Tonal Strength 0.20, Balance 0, Silver Hue 32.00, Silver Tone Strength 0.50, Paper Hue 32.00, and Paper Tone Strength 0.15; Quad Tone: Color 1 Region 0.00 set to R0/G0/B0, Color 2 Region 142.5 set to R75/G78/B96, Color 3 Region 228.0 set to R222/G220/B172; and Color Region 4 255.0 set to R255/G255/B255; Border – Type Solid Black Size 0.46; Edge Exposure Left and Right Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.17, and Edge Transition 0.20; and Top and Bottom Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.40, and Edge Transition 0.20; Vignette: Strength -0.47, Size 0.85, Transition 0.61, and Curvature 0.54; and Transparency to 1.00; and in Local Adjustment used the Burn tool to darken the background, Color on the Bird, and Dodge on the trees to enhance where the lines of the trees were.) On a new stamped layer opened Topaz Texture Effects (Used SJ Crisp Morning Run Modified preset – Texture: changed to bright turquoise texture (halfway down on right column) with Opacity set to 0.29; Vignette – Strength 0.60 and Size 0.53 with Color centered on between bird and trees; in Mask painted back the bird and a little bit of light in trees and background behind bird – used Strength of 39 and Hardness of 20 using black.) In a layer mask and the Gradient Tool selected, a black to white gradient was created from top to bottom to darken the upper edges a little. Image 1 is the final result.
Image 2: This image was difficult to clean up – first the Adaptive Wide Angle filter was used in PS to straighten the walls somewhat. Then the open areas that resulted were cleaned up with the the clone brush. Next the Topaz Impression 2’s Modern Urban Street Art III preset was applied and the plug-in was exited. The layer was duplicated and said before, the first layer was set to Color Dodge blend mode at 100% layer opacity and the second layer was set to Divide blend mode at 77% layer mode. A little clean up was done on another layer and finally on a stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to bring in the focal area a little – located where the foreground grouping of chairs on the sidewalk. On another stamped layer a Camera Raw filter Radial filter was used to lighten the left side of the image and darkening the right side a little. A little painting was done on a New Layer and the last step was to use a Curves Adjustment Layer to average out the tone.
Image 3: So what was done in this image to get a really surreal effect? First Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the flowers only (used black mask and painted back only flowers). One of my Corel Painter textures called SJ Beach Scene was used to add a brownish foreground and a light bluish sky. Another one of my textures called SJ Forest and Plains was placed on top to add the wave or outer space feel in the upper left corner especially – it was set to Luminosity blend mode at 79% layer opacity. The background was copied and placed on top – the top part of image was selected and placed in a layer mask so the people and cars in the area were removed. Then several layers were about used to clone out and clean up image areas. On another New Layer, a basic small snow brush was used to add the wintry feel to the sky. A stamped layer was created and Topaz Lens Effects was opened where the Graduated Neutral Filter was selected and set to the Graduated bottom half 2 stops preset. On another stamped layer, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to – Flypapers Fly Book & Skull Preset was applied (this contained the Glamour Glow, Reflector Efex, Film Efex: Vintage, and Cross Processing filters). Another stamped layer was created and finally Topaz Impression 2 was opened where the Chalk Smudge Preset was used. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool to remove areas looking too sharp (set Eraser brush to lower Strength). Opacity slider was set to 0.74 to Normal blend mode. The birds floral eye was worked on next. The Liquify Tool was used to increase the size of the eye and an Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to make it stand out a little. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog.) A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was added to blend image a little better. (See my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) On a stamped layer Lucis Pro was used to further blend the sky in a little nicer. (Settings used are Enhance Red Channel 175/Green Channel 195/Blue Channel 149 and Assign Original Image Color set to (0% Processed /100% Original.) (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.) On a New Layer Grut’s FX Cloud Gumbo 01a brush was used to fill in the water to look like built up snow. (These brushes are terrific and very handy for image clean up!) A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to a light beige – it was set to Color Blend Mode at 57%. It made the statue look a little better and the red flowers less saturated – painted out the sky so it was not affected. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to reduce the overall tone just a little. This was a huge workflow, but you can see how the Impression plug-in works very nicely with many of the filters from both Topaz and other vendors.
This week is yet another Photoshop plug-in that I am really excited about using. If you have followed plug-ins for years, you know that Lucis has always had some of the best effects ever made. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 has been reduced in price to $30.00 now and that makes it very manageable. (Now priced at $6 until August 31 st when site closes – see my more recent blog How to Get a More Illustrative Look with Lucis Pro 6.0.9.)I had to get it! Now what to do with it? Marilyn Sholin, another wonderful Corel Painter Elite, has provided us with a very short video on how to use this filter – it is not that hard and gives a wonderful pop to your images. See Sholin Lucis Pro video for tips on using this filter and an additional discount code. The Tri-Colored Ginger plant taken in West Palm Beach used this filter at the end of the workflow as Marilyn suggests – either at the beginning or the end.
Below is the original (left image). For middle image, the plant was selected using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask. Topaz Impression’s Cezanne II preset was applied to just the selection, one of my Corel Painter textures was placed underneath, Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to emphasize the center focal point, and a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to just adjust the tone of the image. Topaz ReStyle was used to add more of a pink color palette (see right image) and a Darken Detail layer was created to emphasize some of the lines in the plant. For final step to get image above, Lucis 6.0.9 was applied and the colors really popped nicely. (Settings used – Enhance Detail: Red Channel 199/Green Channel 155/Blue Channel 203. Mix with Original Image 39% Processed and 61% Original.) For more info on how to perform other steps, see Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below.
Here is another example of the result that can be achieved with this very good plug-in. This image is of the Drawing Room in the 55-room mansion of Henry Flagler that is called the Flagler Museum or Whitehall. Wonderful place to visit!
In this case Lucis Pro was applied close to the beginning of the post-processing in Photoshop, right after removing a little noise and the ropes at entrance to the room. (See image below for original as brought in from Lightroom.) Then Lucis Pro was applied using these settings: Enhance Detail Channels – Red 51737/Green 44631/Blue 35165 – large numbers due to the fact the image was in 16-bit mode; Mix with Original Image – 43 % processed and 57% original. This really brought out the detail in all the small items in the room without making the image look crunchy. I found this pretty incredible! The effect can be as subtle as you want. The results look pretty subtle here, but at 100% magnification, the difference can be seen very clearly.
There is a nice PDF Manual that is downloaded with the plug-in which takes you through all the different sliders and what they mean. For me, to get the best results:
- Click the Split Channels box on.
- Uncheck the Display Composite box.
- Adjust the Enhance Detail sliders for each channel to get a good black and white result in each channel. The Smooth Detail sliders are kept at 1.
- Turn on the Display Composite Image checkbox. Sometimes the colors will look really bad at this point. If there is a color shift that you do not like, move the Assign Original Image Color slider to 0% Processed/100% Original.
- Go back and adjust the Enhance Detail sliders in each channel to make the colors and amount of details just right.
- If the results are a little over-cooked, adjust the Mix With Original Image slider which will pull back in some of the the original image.
There are several other sliders and fields in the interface that I did not use but the manual does a good job of explaining all their functions. Check out their User Interface page. The above workflow is basically what Marilyn Sholin goes over in her video and seems easy to use.
This beautiful white gardenia was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, and was my first attempt at using this plug-in. I did not want too much color in the flower, only a touch. (Settings used: Enhance Detail: Red Channel 129/Green Channel 125/Blue Channel 95. Mix with Original Image 70% Processed and 30% Original.) It is not that important that you understand all the mechanics going on under-the-hood, just experiment with the sliders and the image will eventually look really good. This seems to be a handy plug-in to use, especially when that little bit of extra detail is needed. I have even used this plug-in after applying my favorite Topaz Detail 3 – they work fine together. Here is another technique used to get this Lucis effect shown in my The Sculpture Called Reaching Tidbits Blog.
I just noticed I am not sure there is an option to try out this plug-in first which is too bad. I have always loved the Lucis filters but was unable to afford them. I am so happy they have reduced their price on this one as it is so much fun to use and does a very good job with both detail and adding a little color into an image. Hope you are enjoying the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReMask 5
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
Applying a Filter to Objects on a Layer
How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast In an Image
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
This week I was watching some of Creative Lives‘s Photo Week shows and came across this wonderful black and white technique presented by Vincent Versace, another one of my favorite Photographer and Photoshop gurus. The image above is one I recently took at Daytona Beach on a beautiful September Day. I was trying to get across the point that cars are allowed on this beach, one of the few in Florida, but none were present on this weekday. This rather simple process was originally developed by the Adobe Evangelist Russell Brown and was described in his book from 2004 called The Photoshop Show.
What I learned is that to have a really good black and white image, you must first start with a really good color image – or to put it another way, color matters! The shot may have been taken to use as a black and white image, but the image must first be cleaned up before converting to the black and white. Vincent said do not do your conversion in a RAW converter like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw as it comes in the workflow at the wrong place – need to do other things to image in Photoshop first. If you convert using a single Channel or the Grayscale Mode (uses just the Green channel info) of the image, you lose tw0-thirds of the pixels in your conversion. Converting to LAB does not help either since you really only have the Luminosity Channel that can be used for the conversion. Therefore, the best way to convert your image into a black and white is to use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level with Saturation set to -100 where all three of the color channels (Red, Green, and Blue) will be available. By adding a second Hue/Saturation Adjustment set to Color blend mode underneath, the Hue slider can be used to change the contrast of the different colors, and the Saturation slider will allow for smaller contrast changes.
- First do the work that needs to be done to get image sharp and colors correct.
- Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top, name it Film, and set the Saturation slider to -100.
- Next a second Hue/Saturation Filter is added between the image and the Film Adjustment Layer and set to Color blend mode. I named the layer Darken aspect.
- Duplicate the Hue/Saturation Filter two more times (CTRL+J), and name them Midtone aspect and Lighter aspect. This helps to keep the adjustments straight.
- Want to work the adjustment layers from the bottom up. On the Darken layer, use these settings: Hue -148, Sat +28, and Lightness 0. If you look at the image with the Film Adjustment Layer turned off, it looks really strange – just remember the adjustment is not for color correction but to add contrast in specific parts of the image.
- On the Midtone layer, use Hue +30, Saturation +34, and Lightness -2.
- On the Lighter layer, use Hue +41, Saturation +27, and Lightness -2.
- Now paint in the layer masks to direct the contrast effects you want. Vincent filled the Darken and Midtone Adjustment Layers with black and then paint back the areas to use. In the beach image, I liked the overall effect of the Darken adjustment and painted out with a black brush what I did not like. This is where the flexibility is. If you are having trouble telling what effect the adjustment layer is having on the image, turn off the Film adjustment layer, then turn on and off the individual adjustments below. You will see what color is changing in each adjustment which is where the contrast will change when the Film layer is turned on again.
- More Hue/Saturation adjustment layers can be added to target just a certain color by opening up the Master drop-down and choosing a specific color. The contrast for just that color will be adjusted when sliders are changed. Your image can get quite complex!
For step 1 above, Topaz (see website in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used to sharpen the image and Topaz DeNoise 5 to remove some of the noise that was in the blue sky. Also two Curves Adjustment Layers were set to Luminosity blend mode to get the umbrellas, water and sky to look correct. The layer masks were filled with black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the areas I wanted to emphasize were gradually painted back with a soft white low opacity brush. Each of my blog images needed some tweaking first. The settings used in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers were ones Vincent used in his presentation. The nice thing is that if you do not like the results, you can always change them since the adjustment layers are non-destructive.
This little alligator has a pretty nice place to live as the main attraction in a tourist shop in Daytona Beach. He was sitting under a nice toasty light which made the shot pretty easy. This is another example of using the exact same workflow but his eye was sharpened with an Exposure Adjustment Layer before the conversion to black and white. A little clone stamp clean up on a New Layer above was used to get rid of some of the distracting bright spots near his body. That was it.
This beautiful young lady was performing a healing dance in a special dress called a Jingle Dress. This is a rather rigorous dance with very colorful costumes and was taken at the 25th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. These events are always a wonderful place to take photographs. The same workflow again, except this time a Frequency Separation process was used on her face (it was applied rather lightly since this was not supposed to be a glamour shot), and the Sharpen Tool was used on some of the jewelry and blouse details. (Check out Retouching Skin Utilizing Frequency Separation for more info on this.) An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eyes. Then the black and white conversion was done.
I would highly recommend that you purchase Vincent Versace’s excellent video at Creative Live or buy his book if you find this technique intriguing. The video at Creative Live is for sale and is called Black and White Photography: Learning Grayscale Conversion. His recent book covers much more about this technique and is called From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man. Well I hope you get to try this wonderful technique, especially if you like black and white images. It really is quite easy and good results can be achieved. I love it when I find a new way of doing something that I have not tried out before. This one turned out to be great! Have a good week!……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop
Wow – I feel like I am jumping on the bandwagon, but I had to see for myself if the popular technique using Curves Adjustment Layers for dodging and burning is really that useful. The basic concept is to adjust at least two Curves Adjustment Layers, one to over-brighten the image and one for darkening the image. By doing localized painting on the layer masks filled to black, the effect can be painted in (dodged or burned depending on which Curves mask you are using) to add contrast exactly where needed.
These guys above were photographed at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm recently. They are hanging out waiting for an egg or baby bird to fall out of a nest from roosting birds above. It was a little creepy actually seeing them all hanging around! Anyway, this image is an example of using this dodging and burning technique, and the various workflow steps are shown. Below is an example of what the image looked like as a RAW file and after Lightroom changes were applied.
In Lightroom the image was turned into a black and white (set all the HSL Saturation sliders to 0, then adjusted Luminance sliders to get a nice B&W effect – tip from Jack Davis – one of my favorite Photoshop gurus) since the color did not add much interest to the image. Also a rather large crop was done to bring the focus to this specific grouping of alligators. In Photoshop Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was opened and my Soft Leaves preset was applied. (Settings included–Detail: Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium Details -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.42; and Tone: Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.58, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) Below is how the image looked after the filter was applied.
There is now a bit of a soft magical effect – really smoothed out the water especially. A white Layer Mask was added and just detail on the alligator faces were painted back. There still is not much contrast between the background and animal bodies. So the next steps were:
- Added two Curves Adjustment Layers – named one Darken and one Lighten.
- Set both layers to Luminosity blend mode (more on this later).
- To adjust the curves, clicked on icon in upper left of panel (hand with two arrows icon or TAT, Targeted Adjustment Tool). By dragging in image the area to correct, the darkening effect could be adjusted. The whole image darkened down, but that is okay as long as the area is set to the correct contrast. You can always go back and adjust the curve effect later.
- Next this Darken layer was turned off by clicking on the eyeball in the Layer Panel so it disappears.
- The top Lighten Curves layer was highlighted. By using the TAT to drag in parts of the alligators, the correct dodging effect could also be obtained, but the image is now over-bright.
- Turned the Darken Curves Adjustment Layer back on.
- Both of the adjustment layer masks were filled with black by clicking CTRL+I inside the mask itself in the Layers Panel.
- A soft round brush set to 30% brush opacity. By painting in different areas in both curves layer masks, areas could be revealed so the alligators were contrasted and lighted just right. Since the brush is set to 30% opacity, the contrast can be gradually built-up.
See the Lighten Curves Adjustment Layer below and the two Curves Adjustment Layers with mask painted in below.
This turned out be quite an effective way of getting the correct brightness on the actual bodies of the alligators, and to create a nice vignette around the background of the image. The areas around the bodies of the alligators were slightly darkened just to add a little separation to make them stand out a little better. And remember that you can always go back in and change the curve(s) if the effect is too much or not enough. Also the layer mask can be adjusted in the Properties Bar with the Density and Feather sliders if more softening is needed. Last steps included a clean up layer to get rid of a few miscellaneous distracting objects, and a little selective sharpening on the faces. Now when I look at the final image I believe I am seeing in the faces and bodies of the alligators a bit of the fear they produce when you actually see one. I find them to be rather ferocious and extremely cunning animals.
These little white wildflowers were growing on my back porch recently. There is no texture in this image, just a screening effect that was behind them with green bushes growing behind the screen. Very little was done to this image. The same Topaz Detail 3’s Soft Leaves preset was used as in first image. Next the two Curves Adjustment Layers were added – the flowers were brightened using the Lighten curve and the background darkened some around the flowers using the Darken curve. On top a New Layer was created to add in more texture to match the screen effect – a basic cross-hatching brush was used to break up some of the flat color in the background. This flat effect seems to be a pitfall if too much darkening and lightening is added in large areas with the curves – everything can start to get a little bit murky in color if not controlled carefully. That is why a layer with some detail was added over it above and set to Screen blend mode at 39% layer opacity. It now appears more interesting and less flat to me.
There are many dodging and burning techniques. If you are comfortable with one of them, it is fine to keep using that technique. I believe the two curves technique is so popular because it is very easy and quick to do. I found it useful for a fairly large area(s) to adjust. For example, in the alligator image above, the alligators and the background were very similar in tone (and color in the color version) so a fairly large area needed to be slightly darkened behind the alligators to make them stand out. Similar issue for the flowers – the screen was very busy so by darkening the background and lightening the flowers, they stand out much better. If you need just a small area(s) darkened or lightened, use the Dodge and/or Burn Tools – they are pretty good in recent versions of Photoshop. (See Scott Kelby’s blog Using the Dodge and Burn Tools for more info on this.) My favorite for detail areas is one I blogged on a long time ago called The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
Ben Wilmore, another Photoshop guru, teaches the ins-and-outs of Curves Adjustments better than anyone else. After trying out the two curves technique, I realized that I had used it several times before without realizing I was actually dodging and burning in the image! Ben said that using a Darken Curves Adjustment Layer can darken a sky, for example. Therefore, by setting the Curves Adjustment Layer to Luminosity blend mode, the colors will not shift but stay set at their original color. So if you are worried about a color shift resulting, just use Luminosity blend mode and there will be no change in color.
Some good recent resources on this technique are from Blake Rudis’s Everyday HDR video called Curves Layer Dodge and Burn in Photoshop. Also Julia Kuzmenko McKim uses it to retouch faces in a very natural way. Check out her wonderful, very detailed, 3-part article called The Ultimate Guide to the Dodge and Burn Technique: Curves Set Up and More.
I would suggest you give the Curves Adjustment Layer Dodging and Burning technique a try since it is very easy to do. I think you will find it to be a very handy and quick technique to have at your disposal! Chat at ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I thought I would just address a topic I consider when choosing pictures to post-process. That is, how do you get the most out of that not quite perfect image that you really like? Many times I end up taking a picture that does not look like much out of camera. I do not want to discard some of these pictures – after all, they are my memories, but it does seem to be a constant battle to figure out a way to pull out a good result with them.
One of the best starts is to try out different crops. Lots of times I have taken too much background and/or foreground in the shot, but the main subject does not look too bad close up. The image above is an example of this. This only works with my better camera where I have pixels to spare. Due to the lower resolution of my phone pix, they may not give a better result with a crop. That is one reason I like filters. So often a special effect turns a shot into something I totally love. With some pretty cool phone apps, you can get some very impressive results. But with my dSLR, I like to use the Photoshop plug-ins since I can often get some good results with marginal images. So let me walk you through the above example.
The image is of a male Common Moorhen – who knew – it was a really striking bird hiding in the grass. (To see the original RAW images, check out the end of the blog.) The patterns in the water were totally lost in the original image, but in Lightroom the image was cropped extensively and a totally different look appears. A good crop can make all the difference. Since cropping can create some rather soft edges in the image, Seim’s Super HDR X preset was applied to sharpen up the image overall. Then in Photoshop, Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen just the bird – a black mask was applied and the bird was painted back. (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for Seim’s and Topaz website links.)
Now it was time to try out some different filters on this image. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Impression was applied. This is such a painterly look that I did not consider it one I would like, but it is still worth trying different effects to see what you get. One of my favorite Topaz filter guys, Blake Rudis, created a video called Atmospheric Backgrounds with Topaz Impression. Since this image had such a crazy zig-zag pattern in the background water, it seemed like a good time to try out the Ethereal Background preset he created in his video. All the settings are listed at the link and it really did calm down the color so the bird stands out. A Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Crisp Winter preset was added and set to 55% layer opacity to cool down the colors just a little bit. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to direct the focus to the bird a little more – this is almost always my last step, but it you do not have this filter, try using Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter and adjust some Radial filters in the image. It creates a very similar result and I use it a lot also. I now have a shot I really like!
This beautiful little Cattle Egret was riding on the back of this gigantic cow. I was sitting in the backseat of a car and shot this through the opposite side window – I am still surprised it turned out at all! Now to be honest, this image was not really that great – lots of the background was very blurred. But the bird was not in too bad a shape. This image was turned into a black and white in Lightroom – it really made the bird show up nicely. (Used Seim’s Angels Kiss preset.) Otherwise its tiny size and all the colorful wild grass and reeds really made the bird hard to find. So definitely check out a black and white treatment just to see if it could enhance a rather tired looking color image. This is pretty easy to do in either Lightroom with the canned presets or Photoshop with the black and white adjustment layer.
In Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was used, and it worked nicely on the bird, but way overdid the rest of the image. Therefore a black layer mask was used and just the bird and part of the palm tree in front were sharpened. The Shake Reduction filter can sometimes really straighten out a soft shot so check it out. Use the black layer mask if it is too much and paint back areas that needed the sharpening.
Use your brushes to paint in over the soft edges of focal objects. A New Layer was created on top and the bird edges were lightly painted in cleanly. Used a tiny soft round brush set to 7 pixels, 30% layer opacity, and sampled the bird color (ALT+click on object) – only painted his edges and a little bit in the beak area. I still did not like the overall appearance. Topaz Clarity was opened and my SJ Artsy with highlights preset was applied, and all of the sudden it looked so much better! This is a preset I created for something totally different ages ago, but it worked on this image. In a layer mask only the bird was painted back to retain its detail as this preset really softened everything in it. (Here are the settings if you are interested: Clarity Dynamics Micro Contrast -0.86, Low Contrast -0.86, Medium Contrast 0.63, and High Contrast 0.94; Tone Level Black Level -0.19, Midtones -0.36, and White Level 0.19; HSL Filter Hue – no changes; Sat Orange 0.06, Yellow 0.63, Green 0.13, Blue 0.25 0.25, and Overall -0.45; and Lum Orange 0.36, Yellow -0.34, Green -0.42, Blue 0.61, Purple 0.11, Magenta 0.75, and Overall -0.27 – all other colors were 0.00. Adjust these settings around if they do not quite fit the effect you want.) The layer opacity was set to 84%. Since this filter was applied to a black and white image, it gave a different result than on color images. The post-processing could have been finished here as it looked pretty good. A blue toned Solid Color Adjustment Layer was placed on top and set to Color blend mode at 33% layer opacity to get a really pretty night feel to the picture. And once again, since the background was pretty busy, Topaz Impression was opened and the new Ethereal Preset by Blake Rudis was applied. The layer was set to 75% layer opacity and in a white mask, the bird and some of the areas I wanted the detail to show up was painted back. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the bird.
Here is another example of an image a thousand people have taken and I wanted to get something a little different out of it. I have to say I have a soft spot for Wood Storks since they are all around where I live. In Lightroom the Crop was set, Seim’s Super Gentle X was applied, and the head was sharpened with an Adjustment Brush. The Clarity and Sharpness were set up fairly high. In Photoshop the first step was to extend the image size 50% so Flaming Pear’s Flood filter could be used. This is an oldie but goodie filter, but it is still one of my favorites and it gives major realistic results. (Flaming Pear Flood Settings: Horizon 56, Offset 0, Perspective 41, Altitude 29, Waviness 2, Complexity 43, Brilliance 39, Blur 27, Size 0, Height 24, and Undulation 38.) Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied. (Here are the preset settings: Overall Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.41; and Tone Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.48, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) This looked really good as is when applied twice. (See my Tidbits A Reflecting Wood Stork blog.) But I decided to go after one application and use Topaz Glow on a stamped layer and my SJ Inter Web Variation preset. (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.) This gave a very, artistic twist to the image. On another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was applied to get the pretty pink and greens in the image. (Here are the settings: SJ Thistle Blush 2-Sr1 Sh1 preset – ReStyle Sat Fourth 0.78; Lum Fourth -0.52 and Fifth -1.00; and Texture Strength 0.05; Basic Blend Mode Soft Light at 62% opacity; Color Temperature 0.25, Tint 0.42, and Sat -0.06; Tone Black Level -0.33, Midtones -0.06, and White Level 0.64; and Detail Structure -0.09 and Sharpness 0.97.) The lower part of the image was darkened to try and copy the way a true reflection looks. And of course my last step was using Nik Viveza 2.
I am showing thumbnails of what the originals looked like or this whole blog would have little meaning. It really does not matter whose filters you apply or what colors, it is just experimenting until you get something that makes the image look good. I could have used other filters and gotten totally different results. And by using adjustment layers and blend modes, even better results can be achieved. I know I have covered this before, but it is something I consider for the post-processing of each image. I love to just play in Photoshop and have fun – and that is what this whole blog is about. Challenge yourself to get something nice out of a “maybe not so nice” image. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd