Thursday, October 23, 2014

Using Photoshop Layer Masks To Add Interest

Click on the image to enlarge
Today's image is another from last weekend's workshop in the Poconos.  We were shooting in George W. Childs Park in Dingmans Ferry Pennsylvania.  According to the sign at the entrance it's run as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  It's one of the nicest parks we've been to as far as access goes.  Wide crushed rock trails, wooden stairs to get down the steepest parts, overlooks with benches, just great for what we were doing (photography).  If your thing is the wilderness experience, not so much.  It has a series of waterfalls and offers a myriad of vantage points for shooting.  Today's image is there, kind of.  To see what "kind of" means, hit the "Read More".

The falls are all there, just not all in the same place.  Other than the fall in the front and the water in the gap in the rocks to the left, the image is pretty straight.  The big rocks and everything behind is just one shot.  The aperture was set to F 22 and a polarizer filter used to reduce the light gathering of the lens.  The day was fairly bright, so I needed about every trick I could think of to get the shutter speed down to produce the silkiness of the flow.  Shots ranged from 1/15th second to a couple of seconds.

The first thing in the post processing was some optimization in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR).  LR's Radial Filter was used extensively to "relight" the scene.  Probably fifteen to twenty Pins were dropped in various areas of the image.  Darkening some areas and lightening others.  The area just to the left of the main falls was in bright sunlight.  Selecting the area and inversing the Radial Filter's default setting allowed some brightness reduction.  In order to get basically square coverage out of the Radial Filter duplicates needed to be made (right click on the Pin) and dragged to cover the square area.  Making duplicates retains the settings rather than dropping a new Pin and needing to make the slider adjustment over an over again.

The initial plan was to do "everything" in LR.  After all, it was a straight image of a waterfall.  The more I looked at it the more the rocks in front just didn't produce the foreground interest I was looking for.  Not twenty minutes before taking the main shot of today's image I had snapped several upstream, small drops.

The first one found was the larger, longer drop.  It and the primary image were brought into Adobe Photoshop (PS) as Layers.  (Photo/Edit In/Open as Layers in Photoshop).  Free Transform (CTRL T) was used to resize and stretch the drop to cover the bottom of the image.  A Layer Mask ("front loading washer" icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel) was applied and a big, soft Brush (B) used to hide anything that didn't look natural.  That gave a little foreground interest, but how did the water get there? 

Went back to LR and searched the same shoot for a smaller drop.  Got one, brought it into PS and added it to the scene.  Same deal.  Free Transform (CRTL T), add a Layer Mask and Brush out anything that didn't belong.  I made sure it fit the gap in the rocks and was low enough to look like water could be flowing through. 

Sort of looks reasonably to me.


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