Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Seventeen Screened Layers And One Layer Mask

There’s a reason for saving a selection as an Alpha Channel rather than making the Selection, using it and moving on.  If you haven’t saved your Selection and you’ve gone on to your next step and then need that Selection again, the only option is to remake the Selection.  What a pain.  If you have any version of Adobe Photoshop that isn’t creaking with old age, you have the ability to Save Selections as Alpha Channels.  If you use Adobe Photoshop Elements of any version you don’t have Alpha Channels available.  That’s one of the shortcomings of Elements as of yet.  If you get into compositing images or dissecting an images and adjusting individual pieces of the image it is a great benefit to be able to have a list of Selections to reactivate at will.  A whole series of choices had to be made to “make” today’s image.  One, it started out as two shots.  I was flipping through some folders in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.3 and came across a visit to Mystic Seaport in southeastern Connecticut.  I noticed I had an image of the whaling ship Charles Morgan out the window of one of the shops.  I also had an image of the apothecary’s bottles and a wash basin in front of the window.  I brought that shot into the Develop Module of LR3 and cranked up the Exposure to see if there was any detail in the dark shadows on the table and along the frame of the window.  No problem.  That’s where the key to today’s tutorial comes from.  To find out more about the transformation from dark into the light, hit the “read more”.
The first step was to create a composite of the shot out the window and the one of the table. The camera angle was different between the two images due to focus and shifting the lens up to compose the outside shot. The folks at Adobe have done an unbelievable job with their Merge to Panorama applet. It was able to twist and turn the shots to match up perfectly. Due to the twisting and turning there were some blank spots. Using another piece of amazing programming, the Content Aware Fill (CAF) applet the hole on the upper right side was filled in. It wasn’t perfect, but it was close.

The next order of business was making a reusable Mask. Using the Quick Selection Tool (W) each pane of added to the selection. Any minor faults were cleaned up using the Lasso Tool (l). The Selection was saved and deselected.

One way to attack the problem of brightening the dark areas of the window frame could have been to use the Dodge and Burn Tools (O). An easier method was to copy the Layer (J) and change the Blend Mode to Screen. Recopying the screened Layer led to progressively lighter Layers until the right amount of detail was visible. With that done, the Alpha Channel was selected (Ctrl Click) and a Layer Mask applied. It happened that it was the reverse of the Mask needed, so it was inverted (Ctrl I) to produce the proper Mask.

After that individual pieces were brought up using the Mask. The crutch on the left side is an example of putting emphasis on a component by making it lighter.

At that point the “normal” finishing techniques were used to bring up the saturation of the colors and apply a vignette.