Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Soup To Nuts With Adobe Photoshop CS5

For the past 200+ posts there’s been an image accompanying the story.  A month or two ago I received an email saying would you “show your work”.  Made me think of two things.  One, that I was back in some primary school math class and the other was “yea, I should do that more often”.  Today’s image wound up with kind of an interesting Layers Panel and used more Alpha Channels than typical for a simple image.  So, what we have today is the original RAW file, the Layers and Channels Panels and the finished image.  I’ll take it step by step and explain what was done and why it was done.  Seeing as the images take up so much of the header of this post, we get right into it.  Clicking on each image will enlarge it so detail (in the Panels) can be seen.  To follow along, hit the “read more”.
The first thing was to clean up a couple of pieces of flotsam and jetsam around the image. One of the karts impinges on the right at the same level as the golfers. A quick loose Lasso Tool (L) loop around the bag and a Content Aware Fill (Shift F5) made it short work. With the bag gone the shadow of the bag had to go also. The Spot Healing Brush Tool (J) was used with the Content Aware Fill check box clicked on was used and a swipe along the shadow had it gone.

The next step was brightening up the undergrowth in the woods. In the RAW File the area under the trees appears to be almost black. The trees on the right side look the same. The Green Channel provided the best starting point to make a mask. The Green Channel was copied by dragging it down to the Create New Channel icon at the bottom to the Channels Panel. Opening the Levels Dialog (Image/Adjustments/Levels) provided access to increasing the contrast between black and white. To get closer to what we needed the Calculations (Image/Calculations) dialog box was opened. It automatically selects the newly created Alpha Channel as a starting point. Flipping through the Blend Modes came up with the Add Blend Mode getting us really close. Then the Brush Tool (B) with its Blend Mode set to Overlay was used to complete the Mask.

Going back to the Layers Panel, a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was used to brighten the undergrowth. The just made Mask was used to limit the effect of the Adjustment Layer. Holding the CTRL key down, the Alpha Channel icon was clicked to activate the selection. Then the Adjustment Layer was chosen. The Mask had the opposite effect as desired, so CTRL I (eye) was used to Invert the Mask. The Adjustment Layer was then Clipped to the Layer with undergrowth.

The same technique was used in the next step, but the target was the leaves on the trees. An Alpha Channel was created as before but, this time, the Channel used was the Red Channel. Same steps as above was used to brighten the leaves.

The next stretch is the color adjusting that we normally do on any image. A separate Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer is used for each color (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta). A Vibrance Adjustment Layer was added to pop the overall colors just a step more. With all the color Adjustment Layers selected (click on one end of the list and Shift click on the other end) a “Color Adjustments” Group (CTRL G) was made. Making a Group saves space and groups like Layers.

Next came one step forward and two steps back. A composite Layer of what went on up to this point was made (CTRL/ALT/Shift/E) for Sharpening and a copy made (CTRL J) for the Vignette. With the image sharpened the defects in the fairway and behind the green became glaring. So, those Layers were scrapped and a new Composite Layer made. This was used to “cleanup” a few divots, remove some leave and fill in a burnt spot in the grass.

Then, a new Composite Layer was made for Sharpening and a copy made for the vignette. A change from the “normal” Blend Mode for the High Pass Sharpening was to use Soft Light rather than Overlay as the Blend Mode. Overlay created a faceted look to the leaves and was almost an Op Art effect, Way too much.

So, that’s how the RAW image was “developed” into the final image. Hope this helps explain the steps taken to bring an image to life.