Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Using Adobe Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro To Add Drama

Today is the first anniversary of The Kayview Gallery Blog. I’d like to thank all those who have been faithful readers and have helped make readership grow. It’s very humbling to see the steady increase in popularity and to hear from readers around the world. I hope you all continue to enjoy the stories and techniques found here on the blog. Thank you.

I’m not positive, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of it, but using Adobe Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro to add another “dimension” to an image looks like it might be one of CS5’s hidden “golden nuggets”. The “star” of today’s image is the parachute. Giving it a greater place of importance in the shot has a double meaning. A couple CS5 features were used to “make” this image. The angle of the sky diver was pretty flat. He/she was coming in on a final approach and was lined up with the canopy directly overhead. A fairly boring composition if you ask me. First thing to do was to put her/him into a turn by spinning the image slightly. That made the shot a little more dramatic and left me with a corner that was chopped off. CS5’s Content Aware Fill was used to complete the rectangle. That was a little overkill because the sky was a flat blue at that point. If you think about it just a smidge you can probably figure out that sky diving with the clouds depicted in the image probably isn’t the best of ideas. Heck, even small planes avoid flying through clouds formations any time the pilot can help it. The buffeting is just too strong. So, chances are the jumpers would have been sitting around on the ground waiting for the weather to pass, rather than jumping through clouds. Therefore, another “dramatic element” was the addition of the cloudy sky. To find out more about what makes the parachute pop (bad pun), hit the “read more”.

Today’s image builds on the last post. Using HDR Pro like “spot color” to emphasize an element appears to be something that requires further exploration. The parachute and jumper were the shot when the shutter was snapped. It was an okay shot, but nothing that distanced it from the hundred other clicks of the shutter that day. There were more colorful chutes and jumpsuits, but this one had an extra meaning with the red, white and blue. The same technique that was used in the last post of using two copies of the same image for the HDR Pro and the “straight” segment (the jumper) was employed again. The biggest caveat I can give when trying this technique is not to overdo the HDR. It the “over the top” processing were used, it would be easy to spot it. It has to be a middle of the road solution that makes the viewer kind of cock their eye and wonder.

As usual, a Layer Mask is employed to combine the straight with the HDR. The CS5 Refine Edge does a remarkable job with a subject as easily masked as the parachute. If more than thirty seconds was used to complete the mask it was putting too much effort into making the mask. A Quick Selection (W) and a quick swipe around the edge was all that was required. All in all, the image comes across as reasonably realistic. Enough so as to be accepted by the viewer.  Let me know what you think.