Monday, December 28, 2009

Improving On Nature

Every once in a while you come upon the scene that's 90% there. there's just something missing. Today's image is just such a scene. The tranquil stream in the southern US, during the fall was too much to pass up. It drags you deep down the stream and lets you explore all the nooks and crannies along the shore. The problem, the issue, the thing that draws your attention in the original, as shot version of the image is a dominate sky. The top quarter of the image was a pale to white patch of pretty dull sky. Being bright it drew your eye like a magnet. The strange thing is the fact that the reflection gave the sky a much richer appearance. It didn't need to be "fixed". In fact, messing with it would have wrecked the shot by not giving you the "pathway" into image. So, what to do with the sky that wouldn't show up in the reflection? If you've followed the blog from the early days you might remember the foreground bough that creates the "frame" of the image. I did an article about it called "A Very Simple in Camera Technique" back on May 22, 2009. It discusses "how" the pine bough was taken on a completely white background and "how" to properly expose for the "white out" conditions. Today's image uses that image to fill in or cover the fairly uninteresting sky. One that was in place the sky showing through was still a little too white. It didn't match up with the reflection in the water. It still needed more texture than what was apparent. Easiest fix was to toss a cloudy sky in back. If you'd like to see how easy it is to add the bough and the sky as components, hit the "read more".
Actually, it's the same technique used twice and all it involves is changing the Blend Mode of the two inset images. Since the sky is pretty much bald, the cloud shot was added and the Blend Mode changed to Darker Color. Anything that's white in the base layer (the stream) drops out and the textured sky shows through.

The bough is nicely colored and the whiteout behind was very white. On the bough layer, switch the Blend Mode to Darker Color and all the white disappears.

In Photoshop you have several complimentary blending option. One set is Darker Color and the other is Lighter Color. Photoshop groups blending functions by like uses. The "Darker Color" mode is found in the second group down, along with "Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn and Darker Color". The opposite, Lighter Color, is found in the third group down. The group containing "Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge (Add) and Lighter Color".

Until you learn how to manipulate the Blend Modes you'll typically fight your way to a similar result. Often times I hear people say "there's more than one way to get the same result in Photoshop". That's true, but most of the time there are many ways you can use to fight your way through and one or two ways to get the job done (better) with just a couple of clicks. Stunting your Photoshop growth by knowing how to battle a job to the ground means you're losing time and costing yourself money. Continue to learn new pieces of Photoshop. You get faster and things get easier when you do.