Friday, February 10, 2012

Crop, Crop Again And Then Crop Some More In Photoshop CS5

There's a couple ways today's image could have been made.  One would be to zoom in closer, turn the camera to vertical, take three or four shots and stitch a panorama.  The advantage to this method is greater detail.  You're zoomed in, so the leaves on the trees become a larger piece to each of the images.  If you're using Adobe Photoshop CS5 (or CS4), or Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 (or 9) you have excellent stitching ability.  It's basically a pushbutton function.  You just say, take this, this and this image.  Click on Auto and let CS5 do all the hard work.  Aligning the images, blending the details and smoothing out any color differences.  If there's any vignetting, CS5 will take care of that.  If there's tonal changes from the left image to the right image (as in a wide sweep that takes in a large arc of the sky) CS5 will figure out the optimum balance across the scene.  But, that's not how today's image was done.  It's an "old fashioned" pano.  It's one shot that had too much information.  Other than showing where the water was going, the bottom portion of the original added nothing to the interest in the image.  The top suffered from the same malady.  Once you know there are trees in the shot, you really don't have to show the tops.  Up at the tree tops the sky was pretty bland, so why include it.  The human mind can figure out that somewhere the trees stop.  You don't have to hit a person over the head and point that out.  In the "as taken" image the stream was dead center.  Booorrring.  So the image was cropped in from the right.  There was nothing wrong with the right side, it's just that it didn't "help" the image.  Once the image was hacked down to its current size it got a new twist on an old workflow.  TO fine out what's changed, hit the "Read More"

I've been playing around with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Beta and I really like it.  The sliders really do things this time around.  It sort of goes back to the old saying about "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone", or, in this case, 'til something better comes along. 

I wasn't getting enough punch in LR4, so the image took a short (timewise) trip over to CS5 to boost the colors.  Using individual (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta) Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers the colors were cranked up.  I haven't explained how I use the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers lately, so here's a quick run through.  I take a H/S Adjustment Layer and rather than messing with the Master adjustment, I'll click the dropdown and pick Red.  Then I'll pull the Saturation Slider all the way to 100%.  This typically (always) results in garish reds on anything having the slightest bit of red in it.  I'll highlight the 100% number and then back the amount down (holding the Shift Key) to the point where the neon is gone and the reds are at the fullest.  Holding down the Shift Key brings the amount down in increments of 10 points per tap of the Down Arrow Key (or click of the scroll wheel on your mouse).  Moving the Slider from 67 to 66 does nothing (visible), but going from 70 to 60 will make a difference.

In today's image the left and right sides on the stream needed different amounts of Red Saturation, so two H/S Adjustment Layers were employed using Red.  The advantage of using individual H/S Adjustment Layers is being able to apply Masks to specific colors in specific spots on the image.  You could select each color using one Adjustment Layer, but then you only have one Mask to work with.  Having a Mask for each color is a distinct advantage.  The Masks can be anything you'd like to use.  In today's image, on the Red 1 Adj. Layer a Gradient was used to Mask off the entire left side of Red H/S Adj. Layer one.  Use whatever works.