Monday, February 15, 2010

It's The Simple Things

Sometimes we make "hard" the point of what we're doing. Today's image "looks" pretty simple, but it took more work than you might expect. Things that should have happened in the camera didn't. The light spillage on the background made it a very dark gray rather than a pure black. The angle the stem comes into the shot was steeper than what's apparent and the "in camera" crop was too tight to allow for any rotation. Basically it should have been scrapped and reshot. Instead it became a Photoshop project. If the potential of an image doesn't start to develop in the first couple of minutes or if it looks like it's going to take an inordinate amount of time, it gets to the point of ending up with the image relegated to the "never was" bin. The early days of messing around with an images for hours on end just isn't necessary any more. I have discussions with people, see articles in magazines or view tutorials online where very clumsy methods are used to accomplish a task. When face to face with people willing to learn (as I like to think I am) and hear that they're using a method that works, but means fighting to get the job done, I'll put my two cents in (politely of course) and show/explain a technique I've incorporated into my workflow. They can take it or leave it. (After all, free advice is worth what you pay for it.) I've spent about ten years studying (actually studying) Photoshop. Methods I used six, seven or eight years ago have been supplanted by much better, easier techniques that not only produce better results, but are typically much quicker. Rather than fighting with an image I work with a image to do what needs to be done to bring out its potential. To find out what needed to be done to today's image, hit the "read more".

The first thing that was done was a Free Transform (CTRL T) and rotation of the shot clockwise. The resulting blank canvas areas in the corners were repaired by inserting a layer below (CTRL + New Layer icon) and filling it (Shift F5) with the color sampled from the main background. Since the background was some shade of solid black it was easy enough to blur the layer to eliminate any seams.

The lighting error was a case of duplicating the layer (CTRL J), changing the Blend Mode to Multiply, adding a Layer Mask and applying a gradient to the mask. That evened out the light.

After the "corrections" it was smooth sailing with the normal color correcting, sharpening and vignetting. Yes, there is a vignette on this image. (Force of habit, I'd guess.)