Monday, September 10, 2012

Jazzing Things UP With Photoshop

Who says you can't fool around with your images.  If you're interested in making a record, if you're doing some photojournalism, you probably should keep you images pretty straight.  More than one photojournalist has been kicked to the curb because he/she played with an image.  But that's not what I do.  People don't pay me to record a scene.  They pay for my imagination.  One of my more successful images is a wildly colored image of the dock area in Antigua.  Does it look anything like reality?  Nope!  It does give a "feeling" of Antigua.  The sun is bright, the people are bright, the clothing is bright.  Everything points to being bright, so that's what my final image looked like.  Today's image isn't quite as bright as the Antigua image, but it's Hartford, in Connecticut, not in the Caribbean.  It has a different vibe, a different tempo.  It's a city coming back and getting brighter and more colorful every day.  So, I've presented it as being colorful.  There's a whole raft of techniques used to get to the final image.  Parts are highly messed with.  Others, almost nothing has been done and in still others where is a hint of fooling around with the image.  To find out about what went on where, hit the "Read More".

Today's image can be broken down into three segments,  The river, the skyline and the sky.  The river has very little done to it.  Some sharpening, a lower vignette and some color correction.  Along with the river is the tree on the right hand side.  It's only purpose is to hold the viewer in the scene and block the viewer from exiting off that side.  It has a lot a detail, but the color has been subdued.  It's not as bright as the colors across the river.  It basically says "there's nothing to see here, go back the way you came". 

The sky has some drama, but the exaggerated blue, again, serves to pull the viewer down into the lighter, more colorful portion of the image.  The eye is attracted to the lighter areas of an image and the lightest piece of today's image is just above the buildings and at the left side of the biggest tree.  Everything guides the viewer into looking at the buildings.

Anyone familiar with Hartford, Connecticut can probably rattle off the names of the various insurance companies along the skyline.  Starting from the left, the old tower is the Traveler's Tower.  Below that is the new Convention Center.  Just to the Convention Center's right is the new Science Center.  Above is the Marriott Hotel and just behind that is The Gold Building.  The blue building to the left of the Science Center is the Phoenix Life Insurance building.  Others can probably continue the list.

So what happened to the skyline?  First it's a four shot pano.  One thing different about Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6) is the in the dialog box to produce a panorama, the "Vignette Removal" check box is unchecked by default and it isn't sticky (persistent) if you do check it on.  Unless you like the idea of mismatched colors at the edges of each shot making up your panos, you probably want to remember to check the fix vignettes tick box.

Next it took a trip back to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4) for some Clarity, Vibrance, Cropping and Noise Reduction.  Then back to CS6 and an Alpha Channel was created from a Selection of the sky.  The reason for the Alpha Channel (Select/Save Selection) is to control the sky and remove it from the exaggerations several times.  By saving a Selection as an Alpha Channel you don't have to keep making the same Selection over and over again.  Any time you need it just go to Select/Load Selection and find it in the drop down.  Many Alpha Channel selections can be saved and trotted out whenever you need them.

The building when through:

HDR Toning
Topaz Detail
Topaz Adjust
Nik Color Effects Pro

And then it was back to LR4 for finishing.  The trips through Topaz Adjust and Nik Color Effects Pro each got several Presets applied.  It was just a matter of click, does this make it more interesting?  Yes?  Apply.  No? Try again.  It strictly a matter of playing.  Could I walk through the same steps again?  Not in a hundred tries. 

It was just a case of playing.

Wednesday's Q&A is going to be about "Calibrating Lenses For A Specific Camera Body".  Stop back and check it out.