Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Like You're On Top Of It All

First thing I'd like to do is give a shout out to the folks over at ALLTOP. Alltop is a news aggregator where you can plug in a search term, such as Photoshop, Photography, Lightroom (the three I use) or just about any other topic you might be interested in and it'll gather up a large array of sites based on the subject you've specified. I use it every day to do a quick catch up on the things that directly influence things around the gallery. Well, if you were to do an Alltop grouping of all things Photoshop, The Kayview Gallery will now show up on the list. It's an honor to be listed among some pretty select company.

It sort of rare to find a landscape image with the diverse color range that we see in today's image. Coming directly out of the camera as a raw file it looked very little like what you see here. It's one of the few shots I've had where every single color was muted. At first glance it was a pretty dull, drab looking set of pixels. Contrast was another problem and there was no snap. If ever an image went from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan (by comparison at least), this was it. Is it the definitive shot of the Grand Canyon? No, but it does capture, for me, what I saw stand on the edge of the abyss. To find out how this shot was "developed", hit the "read more".

The first thing was to neutralize the colors and take out most of the haze. Believe it or not, most of the blue from the evening haze has been removed from the far back portion of the scene.

The next thing was to go through a half dozen Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers, separating out each color component. It actually wound up with seven H/S layers. There's two Yellow Saturation Layers. One for the general scene and another for the trees in the foreground. (Yes, yellow to bring up the greens. The biggest color moves in any greens typically come by bumping up the yellows.) Masks that come along with the Adjustment layers were used extensively to "Color Burn" or "Color Dodge" specific areas. That's the key to using individual Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers. You could use one H/S Adjustment Layer and cycle down through each of the colors, but then you'd be stuck with one mask. By using one (or more) H/S Adjustment Layers per color (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta) you have six (or more) masks. This gives us the ability to use each mask to its fullest potential. I.e. The greens on the flat lands in the middle ground had to be softened. At some points down to zero and in others, some percentage of black (which makes it gray).

The result was put into a Group (CTRL G) and a flattened composite (CTRL, ALT, Shift E) was put on top. A copy of that layer (CTRL J) was added and the visibility checked off. The first flattened composite was sharpened using the High Pass Filter technique discussed previously on the blog. Convert the layer to a Smart Object and use Filters/Other/High Pass set to 10.5 to sharpen. The 10.5 number will probably over sharpen the image, but the Opacity slider is always available to reduce the effect. The uppermost layer's visibility was then turned back on. The Square Marquee Tool was selected and feathered to about one a one third the resolution (if your resolution is 150, feather to 200. If it's 300, feather to 400 pixels). We're about to put a vignette on the image. A rectangle was drawn over the image starting about one eighth of the way to the image both vertically and horizontally. Drag down and out to the opposite point on the image. Use the Delete Key to "knock out" the center of the image. Change the Blending Mode to Multiply and use the Opacity slider to taste. The image is now "developed".