Monday, April 5, 2010

Image Within An Image -- PhotoShop CS5 Not Required

Anyone who’s been reading the blog for the past couple weeks has read about images that could only be made using Adobe Photoshop CS5. Other than a tiny sliver of door jam on the left hand side of today’s image, this is, pretty much, a straight image that can be done with any recent version of Photoshop. Any recent version meaning CS3 or CS4. Sure it “could be” done using older versions, but the heartburn would have been too much for me and I just wouldn’t have bothered. In one respect today’s image looks like a classic composite. One layer over another. It could be done that way. I’m sure someone like Corey Baker or Bert Monroy could make individual elements from scratch and have the result look just like this shot. But, it is a digital image, out of a camera and brought to life in Photoshop. We can count the “layers” of the image (not the layers used in Photoshop) from front to back. We have the doorframe, the gate, the featured horse, the band around the center of the carousel and the sunset reflected in the glass. Each element was treated as a separate area. A word has to be given as to how the shot was taken in the first place. You can just barely see my elbow above the horse’s rump reflected in the glass. My wife was to the right, holding a Nikon Speedlite, triggered wirelessly using Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS), aimed at the white horse. I saw the reflection and had a Polarizing Filter in my pocket (just in case). The reflection was what caught my eye, so using a polarizer to cut the reflection wouldn’t be what I was looking for. To find out about how this image was “finished”, hit the “read more”.
The first thing was to straighten the door to a true vertical. The Ruler tool was used in combination with Image/Image Rotation/Arbitrary to set a true vertical. The shot was cropped to a 16 x 20 format, which left a thin triangular sliver on the left side. One of CS5’s new features made short work of filling the gap.

The image was worked with my “normal” steps of correcting any color cast using the Threshold Adjustment Layer technique that Dave Cross wrote about a year or two ago. Once the color was neutralized it was then pumped up with individual Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers. At this point we’re already eight layers deep. The reason for using individual Hue/Saturation Layers is to get a mask for each color (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta).

So, now we have the color “centered” and boosted and can go to the creative side of things. The door jam was brightened and detail enhanced. The gate was copied to its own layer, desaturated and brightened to bring more attention to it and differentiate it from the door jam. The next “layer of depth” in the image is the horse. The horse was Dodged, using a low exposure setting to control how bright it became. The “halo” around the top of the carousel was also dodged to enhance the colors and the individual poles brightened to bring them up.

The rest was the “normal” High Pass sharpening and Overlay vignetting techniques discussed in earlier post. The “depth” of the image was the intriguing part of the exercise and the reason for selecting this particular image to finish.