Monday, May 13, 2013

Using Photoshop As A Planning Tool

Today’s image is more of a “my thoughts” type of thing, rather than some sort of wonder art.  It show how I approach an image in the develop process.  You only see one “markup” on the left.  There were more as the image was “developed”.  Why?  How?  The “why” is easy.  It’s to create a plan for the image and give a set of “attack” plans.  The “how” is equally easy.  Even though all the work of the image was done using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Beta (LR5B), the planning is done with Adobe Photoshop CS6 (any version of PSCS or PSE could have been used).  The only reason for using an application with a Layers function is to be able to put separate thoughts on separate Layers.  Each Layer was “assigned” a different color for its Pencil Tool (B).  The Pencil function in PS or PSE is found grouped with the Brush Tool (B).  Using separate Layers lets each set of thoughts stand only or they can be seen as a whole (as in the markup).  To check out the sequence of thoughts, hit the “Read More”.

The first thing was to establish the Crop.  The shot is from the Bronx Zoo (found, strangely enough, in the Bronx, New York City, USA).  The lens was probably racked all the way out, which would explain having way too much foliage surrounding the bird.  You can only get so close at the zoo.  They tend to frown on anyone wondering into the enclosures.  As a result, there’s much too much green and not enough bird.  The ratio needed to be cut down.  The final result included bringing the Crop (in LR5B) in a little on the left also. 

In the markup you can see several different sets of initials.  CL and EX being the dominant pair.  CL refers to Clarity in the Basic Panel of LR5B.  EX is Exposure.  They really mean nothing to the viewer.  They’re just “shorthand” for me.  Each set it initials also has a plus or minus sign attached to it.  This indicates what needs to be done with the areas outlined.  Plus is to increase Clarity or Exposure, minus to reduce either one. 

The different colors come directly from the base Swatches Panel in PS.  The Red works well.  The next one that seems to show up on most images is Yellow, then the light Blue.  It comes down to a: Red, do this first, Yellow, do this second, etc.  Depending on the image and the number of iterations of markups necessary, there could be a half dozen colors used. 

The whole point is to break down your thoughts before you go back to LR5B (or where ever).  It is a good exercise in planning.  Same as a writer might make an outline before starting a book.  An author wants to keep track of where, what and why a character did something in chapter two so it can be resolved in chapter twenty.  The photographer (at least this one) wants to know what the “end game” is when staring out. 

Am I faithful to this process with every image?  No!  It certainly helps with composites or more complicated images.  It’s a tool.  A carpenter doesn’t always need a hammer.