Sunday, February 8, 2015

Simplicity Via Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Click on image to enlarge
Simplicity often should be honored in life and in photography.  I did another "simple" image a few posts ago.  It probably wound up being one of the top ten posts ever viewed on this blog.  So, simplicity is of interest to people following The Gallery.  I was flipping through some images this morning and came across this one.  It's a reed/branch/stick hanging above a frozen over pond.  To get an idea of how it was reduced down to it's simplest form, hit the "Read More"

The biggest thing that was done was to remove the mottled surface of the ice.  Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR), the Highlights were reduced, the Shadows increased and a White Point established.  When I try to get a good White Point I'll increase the Whites slider in the Basic Panel until I see the first pixel of white.  I then back off about ten points.  That typically puts the maximum white pixels in what Ansel Adams would consider "Zone 9".  (I don't subscribe to the Zone System, but in this case it illustrates a point.)  According to Adams, Zone 9 would have slight detail in the whites.  Zone 10 would be pure white with no detail.  I do whatever I can to avoid Zone 10.

Setting a Black Point (for me) acts just about the opposite way.  I want some pure blacks with no detail (some, not a lot) to show deep shadows.  I'll bring the Blacks Slider down with my finger on the ALT key until I see some Blacks form.  I'll then keep going down until some areas (the deep shadows) go black.  Usually some where around an additional ten points.  In today's image that can be seen in the shadow side of the stem. 

The image then had what looked like noise.  What it actually was was the crystal structure of the ice.  Since it appeared to be noise I used some Noise Reduction to smooth not the background.  (You know the old saying "if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...").  That removed the mottling for the most part.

What was left was a slight blue cast in some spots.  Particularly to the lower right of the reed.  In LR's HSL Panel (Hue/Saturation/Luminance) the Saturation was brought down and the Luminance brought up in the Aqua and Blue.  It didn't eliminate the blue, but flattened it out.  While in the HSL Panel the Saturation of the Greens and Yellows was increased and the Luminance of the Yellows was also increased.

In the Details Panel the "noise" was further reduced and a good amount of Sharping applied.  To see what's being sharpened it's handy to hold down the ALT key while moving the slider to the right.  Good set points (for me) are about 120 for amount and 90 for Masking.  (Radius of 1 and Detail of 25 are pretty standard for me.)  Those settings assure sharp edges and no sharpening in areas like skies or the surface of a pond.

To "finish" the image the Adjustment Brush was used to add Clarity and more Sharpening to each individual bud.  Rather than using the Post Crop Vignette in the Effects Panel I chose to use the Radial Filter to put a few points of brightness on the business end of the reed.  (A few points.  Probably 7 or fewer.)  This gave the final image an off center vignette not possible using Post Crop Vignette .

There you have it.  Keep it simple.