Monday, September 15, 2014

Emphasizing The Details

Today's image is obviously of a white flower (and a bee).  White can get blown out fairly easily and losing detail can happen in a heartbeat.  Today we have wonderful tools to recover a little, some or most of what an original scene has going for it.  In today's image the detail is there.  It's a question of finding and exploiting it.  My first attempt wound up with an image that showed every vein, and shade in each petal.  Unfortunately it was just too dark overall.  This second attempt version strikes a better balance.  The detail is still there, just not as blatant.  Rather than starting over, I switched to another "trick" to make things a little more right.  The difference between the first and second methods can be found by hitting the "Read More".

The first method is one I've written about on a semi-regular basis.  From Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) the image was sent over to Adobe Photoshop (PS).  There a couple of Curves Adjustment Layers were applied.  One for the highlights and the other for the shadows.  The highlights were jacked up and the shadows pushed down.  The included Layer Masks were Inverted (CTRL I [eye]) to black to hide the overall effect.  A small (10 pixel) relatively hard (95%) Brush (B) was then used to define each light and dark area.  The Masks were then given a Gaussian Blur (Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur) strong enough to make the individual lines disappear.  Flipping the Visibility Icon (the eyeball) on and off showed what had been done.

The second round was after seeing the image on an iPad.  It was just too dark.  I use the iPad as a reference tool to check what others might see looking at an image.  When I saw what it looked like I checked it on an HP Slate and two smart phones.  Yep, too dark.

I didn't think another trip from LR to PS was necessary, so the whole "correction" was done in LR.  The overall brightness was brought up about a half a stop.  Then the image was enlarged to 1:1 and the visible area brought over the rear petals.  The Adjustment Brush was made very small with a very large feather.  The preset for Burning was set and each shaded (ya can't even call it a shadow) area darkened.  This added some apparent "depth" to the petals.  Anything darker seems to be deeper and anything lighter tends to look closer.  By placing a "shadow" next to a highlight a flow of light and dark can be made.  This gives contour to an object.

Not that it was done on today's image, but adding light and dark can add contour even when there is none.  Try it.  Take a solid colored screen and do the PS technique.  You'll see that you can put ripples onto a flat sheet of paper.