Wednesday, August 18, 2010

200 Images And Counting

Today we are at image number 200. This blog was started on April 21, 2009. So far it’s been fun, challenging, productive, growing and read around the world. Lately, Montreal, Canada has been a hotbed of readers, with more people spending more time each day. Drop a note and say hello wherever you are. It would be an understatement to say that most visitors are from the United States. It may surprise you to learn that the foreign country where the blog is most highly read is Pakistan. The country that flips through the most pages is Sweden. I’m not sure if it’s because I have a good Swedish name, but they also spend the greatest amount of time per visit reading the posts. When I was at Intel we used to use a hockey stick as a metaphor for growth of processor sales. The time to reach the curve got shorter with each generation of processor, but it always looked the same. In fact, there’s a T-shirt showing the graph that Intel put out a couple years ago. Well, it appears this blog is at the curve of the stick. In the past month the number of visitors has grown considerably and, on a daily basis, the increase is accelerating. I would encourage new visitors to flip back through older posts. Like most endeavors, we started out with the “best stuff” we had. We have continued to grow, so some of the newer post exceed anything posted early on, so don’t skip back too quickly. Most of what’s been on the blog has been an anecdote, followed by a technique used on the day’s image. If you only read the splash page and don’t got to the full post, you’re missing out on the “instructional” part of the blog. I’d like to thank those readers who are “the regulars” and encourage everyone who gets a kick out of the posting here to tell ten friends about “The Kayview Gallery”. There are the seeds of plans to offer step by step instructional posts, with screen shots of each step. In the works are videos showing the progression of an image from RAW file to a frameable print. We’re talking with possible “sponsors” to promote services and tools we use on a day to day basis and believe in. The second 200 images will be, hopefully, as exciting and interesting as the first 200 have been. To find out what’s up with today’s image, hit the “read more”.

Today's image is of New York's South Street Seaport and the buildings of Manhattan. You can see a slight lean of the building toward the center of the frame, almost pointing to the top of the mast of the ship. The image itself is another example of combining two copies of the same image to create something that’s greater than the sum of the parts. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t particularly like HDR skies. I do, however, like the effect HDR has on the buildings. In order to separate the sky from the buildings a mask was needed. This isn’t a good example of where the Quick Selection Tool (W) is the tool of choice. Having more than one way to attack a problem is a good thing to have in your pocket “just is case”. In this case, going back to the Calculations dialog (Image/Calculations) box is the way to go. First step is to decide which channel is going to give you the biggest head start. In the case of today’s image that was the Blue Channel. Most of the tutorials I’ve seen on the Calculation dialog box have started out by saying “make a copy of the Channel with the best contrast”. It’s not really necessary. The output from the dialog box is going to give you a new Alpha Channel anyway, so why start with a copy? Anyway, once the new Alpha Channel is made the contrast can be increased using a Levels Adjustment (not a Levels Adjustment Layer) (Image/Adjustments/Levels). The reason for not using an Adjustment Layer is that you want to changes to actually be on the Alpha Channel, not a non-destructive change applied over the Alpha Channel. Once you have the Calculations dialog box open, the default will be two copies of whatever Alpha Channel you thought gave you the best contrast. Look at the Blend Modes and scroll down through the list to find the Blend Mode that gives you the best separation. In the case of today’s image that was Linear Burn. After hitting Okay to confirm your choices it was a simple matter to using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to isolate the remaining chunks of the buildings and filling them with black. (D for default/X if needed to make Black the foreground color and ALT Backspace to fill the area.)

Once the mask was made, another copy of the image was opened and HDR Toning (Image/Adjustments/HDR Toning) applied the image were brought into the same set of Layers and the mask used to show the non-HDR sky over the HDR buildings. From there it was the same old same old of brightening each color (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta), sharpening (using a High Pass Filter) and putting a Vignette on.