Friday, November 7, 2014

Using Adobe Lightroom's Radial Filter To Emulate Traditional Japanese Art Look

Click on image to enlarge
Today's image is actually pretty straight, once it got out of the camera.  It's a five image multiple exposure - in camera.  The Nikon D 300 it was shot with has the capability of going up to ten exposures without advancing the sensor (kind of like not advancing the film in "the old days").  Some of the cameras around today can do a max of three exposures.  Typically, the higher end you go the more exposures you can capture.  One of the big things to remember if you're going to try something like this would be to set the Auto Gain setting in the camera to "on".  This setting will do the heavy lifting of the math needed so the image doesn't become just a blown out mess.  To understand the reference in today's title, hit the "Read More".

There's a genre of Japanese art that deals with very delicate, typically floral, minimalist paintings, prints, line drawings, etc. that are very interesting.  The floral is usually to one side of the frame and may have a small set of Kanji characters saying something.  It could be about the image or it could be like the inspirational posters you see around.   Anyway, there's no lettering of any sort on today's image. 

When I said the image was "pretty straight" I should have qualified that.  The lower left side of the image didn't really fit the overall feeling or mood of the "spirit" of the image.  So!!!  I sent the image over to Adobe Photoshop, used the Marquee Tool (M) to put a rectangular marquee over the top half.  I then copied it (CTRL J) to it's own Layer.  I invoked Free Transform (CTRL T), right clicked in the selected area and chose Flip Vertical.  The result was slid down to cover the lower half of the image.  A Layer Mask (circle in the rectangle icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel) was applied and a soft, black Brush (B) was used to mask out the overlapping leaves and soften the transition between the two halves.  It was then back over to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) for finishing.

Once back in LR it didn't take anywhere near as many Radial Filter (RF) incarnations as was used in the last post.  There were RFs for each of the iterations of the leaves.  There was a tight RF over the whole string of leaves and one used as a offset vignette.

Over each leaf some Sharpening and Clarity was applied.  Over the string, a general (largely feathered) RF was used to separate the floral pattern from the background.  A somewhat larger RF of the same oval shape (and opposite masking) used on the string was used to deClarify, unSharpen and slightly darken the outer area of the image producing a vignette.

When I talk about a "slight" vignette I do mean slight.  Typically a vignette I apply is in the five to ten percent of one Stop range.  I don't want to "see" the vignette unless I flip on and off the preview toggle.  At that point it should be an "aha" moment.  If you can look away and turn back to the screen and see the vignette - it's too harsh.  Look away, turn back and say "hmmm" and only be able to tell the vignette's condition (on or off) by toggling the preview.  At that point it's enough to hold the viewer's eye in the picture but not so much that the viewer knows a vignette has been applied.

The RF has become one of the "go to" tools in LR.  Big ovals or circles, little ovals and circles and ones that are tiny can fine tune an image.  As a bold statement I'd say every image can use a little RF action.