Friday, March 16

How I Do It

I am more than frequently asked about my post processing (PP) techniques in PhotoShop (PS). Specifically people are curious about how I get my 'look' in images. So I thought I'd take a relatively simple image which I previously posted on Wednesday, March 14th and to try to explain the techniques involved. By the way, I work with images at a resolution of 240 dpi with relative sizes of 3500 X 2330 pixels. Hence there is a lot of information available for editing. My images are designed to be printed on 19 X 13" paper at a minimum. And I work in RGB space. Hence there are some compromises made when I reduce a copy of the picture to sRGB space at 72 dpi at much smaller relative size for display on the web. This compression can result in some softening of the image as well as some loss of color range. But I am interested in producing large prints that sparkle and I'll tolerate the loss of information that comes with compression for display on the internet.

Let’s break the PP enhancements into three parts.

Part 1: the display, "Making A Threesome Pop" shows the final image surrounded by the three component images taken at Landis Valley Museum within the afternoon hours of 2 and 3 O’clock on March 14, 2007. The sky was thick with thin grey clouds allowing an even light to fall onto the subjects. I recognized that I was going to make a collage as I took the photographs and was sensitive to composing to capture similar shadow play on all of the structures.

Image #1 was the keystone to the final collage. But you can see that sections 'a' and 'c' were out of character for the 18th century home. However, images #2 and #3 located elsewhere in the historical village were of historic interest, but they too suffered from distracting settings – particularly with respect to the parking lot depicted in section 'c' in image #1 and the non-descript building in section 'b' of image #2.

So the first step involved straightening all of the images horizontally, then moving the relevant subjects from #2 and #3 into place in #1. The next step involved careful blending of the planted images to balance them into their new settings.

Part #2 then involved the use of masking layers to selectively vary the curves, saturation, sharpness of the individual component parts each on their own layers in order to create the organically acceptable final composition. Unfortunately I have trashed those layers as they did their jobs, and replicating them for this tutorial would be too exhausting.

Part #3 involved the use of overall adjustment layers to enhance the overall contrast and color intensities while stretching the sky from image #1 to create a more square-like aspect ratio in order to better set off the key subject. This was reinforced by expanding the canvas to allow for the dark borders which in turn seems to give the scene an illusion of brightness which the grey day inhibited.

An overall observation. My Canon 10-22mm lens, like all very wide angles tends to distort in a number of ways. In this case you will note that in Figure #1 the background appears quite distant. I stood perhaps four feet from the corner of the small building when I took the shot. In fact, the buildings in section 'a' were no farther away than the building in Image #2 appears to be. Neither of the pieces of images #2 or #3 would have been large enough to matter to this scene, had they in fact been where I have placed them. I like it that the optical impossibility of this composition lends an inexplicably spooky overtone to the composition. It is that overtone which is simultaneously difficult to pick out, yet which really makes this image express considerably more than will any of its parts.

Now, I've realized in working on this tutorial that there are scads of details which I've omitted. In fact this explanation has taken about two hours to prepare when in fact I actually created the original in about 50 minutes from file opening to posting on the blogsite. Whew! I cannot imagine how the folks who write those books do it. Unless they actually involve themselves in just describing one small technique, rather than moving from an idea to an entire creation. My guess is that it would take far longer than sixty seconds for a clarinetist to explain how he played the "Minute Polka" eh?

I hope this is at least of some use to you, and if you have specific questions about an element of an image, ask... and I shall see if I can answer in any reasonable time frame.

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