Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Monday Morning Flower

I must be in another rut. This is something like the third Monday in a row that “today’s image” has been a flower. Stared out with the Tiger Lily, went to a Cone Flower and now a Rose. It just so happens that flowers are in bloom (duh!!! It’s summer) and we’ve been out walking around different town centers. Each town has some sort of Town Green and typically the local Garden Club will make it a mission to make their town stand out. Today’s image comes from Thomaston Connecticut. It’s basically a drive by town rather than a destination, but it’s always looked promising from the highway on the hill right at the edge of the downtown area. An hour ramble showed that it is a quintessential New England town. Is does have a couple of flourishes that can set it apart. Part of Town Hall has an Opera House currently showing a live performance of Peter Pan. There’s a Train Museum down by the river. It’s obvious that the folks who laid out the train route followed the river, giving the gentlest slope and the easiest cut for the tracks. A small Town Green appears to have been cut out of what was a pretty awkward (~169 degree) turn to the north in the middle of town. At some point, planned must have decided to “fix” the turn and wound up with a triangle that became the Green. There’s a Gazebo in the center and flanks the lawn of a church that might be great for a summer concert series. This was the setting of today’s image. Looking back on the past couple of Monday images gives an interesting progression of how the shoots were taken. All were shot in bright sunlight, with very different looks. First we have the Tiger Lily that was shot using two Speedlites ganged together to overpower the sun. The Cone Flower was shot, again, in bright sunlight, but positioned to have a dark, mottled background. Then there’s today’s Rose, shot with a great leading line against a bright background that had to be tamed. To find out about the surprising way the background was tamed in today’s image, hit the “read more”.

The far background was nicely out of focus, but fairly bright. Just the opposite of what’s needed to make the rose pop. The branch holding the rose was well exposed, but too sharp. Channel Masks to the rescue. Like the cavalry charging to the fight, using Channel Masks make quick work of isolating the elements into individual, addressable components. Very simply defined, making a Channel Mask can be as easy as making a selection, right clicking on the selection and selecting the Save Selection option. You now have a Channel Mask. You’ll find it in the Channels Panel listed as (unless you gave it a name) Alpha One. Make another selection, do the same thing and you wind up with Alpha Two. Then Alpha Channel three, four, five, etc. It’s a great habit to get into to save Selections as Channel Masks. If you make a Selection, do whatever you want to do to that Selection and move on, you’ve lost that Selection. If you need the same item selected again somewhere down you work flow and you haven’t saved the Selection as a Channel Mask, you have to make the same Selection again. With a Channel Mask, all that’s need is to CRTL Click on the Channel Mask Icon to reselect the Selection. All the Refine Mask adjustments you’ve made will be there.

So, the Leaf Channel Mask was picked and a Gaussian Blur applied to reduce their importance and make then recede into the back. The entire image was given a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer and toned down to darken the overall image. Before making that Adjustment Layer the Flower Channel Mask was selected. Therefore, the Mask that came with the Adjustment Layer already had the flower masked. Using CTRL I (eye) allows you to flip the Mask black and white to white and black as needed.

The second “trick” was using a double vignette Mask. The first was shifted to be positioned over the rose, creating a halo effect. The second was a general vignette Mask equally spaced around the entire image. This image involved more “finishing” than a typically image.