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Wanna Get Better Images? Stand In Front Of More Interesting Subjects

Okay, it doesn’t hurt to stand in front of a beautiful woman with flawless skin. Casual portraits can be had in almost any circumstance. Today’s image is of a dancer at an Indian Pow Wow held over the weekend. She was just walking out of the tribal dance circle and was unaware of my taking her picture. (She was, as were all the dancers, aware that the “tourists” were snapping away, but none knew if a camera was pointed at them.) The current plan is to take several images shot over the weekend and make a composite depicting the ceremonial activities of the day. It’ll be a fairly complex piece, so it’ll take a while …

Photoshop Tools For Eliminating Distracting Backgrounds

Any time you’re at any kind of festival, what’s behind your subject of interest becomes important. If your objective is getting a head shot you probably don’t have too much to worry about (if you have a long enough lens). Set your F-stop as low as it will go, focus on the eyes and let the background be totally out of focus. If the plan is to get a full length shot (as in today’s image) your problems multiply. Even the fastest glass can only do so much. The things that are conspiring against you are your minimum F-stop number (largest aperture), the distance between you and the subject and the distance between the subject and the background. If you look back…

Using Photoshop To Get Rid Of A Background

This will be the second post in a row dealing with getting rid of distracting backgrounds. If you haven’t seen the other post I’d suggest you might want to check it out. Today’s image goes in the direct opposite direction. Instead of doing all sorts of tricks to hide the background, today’s image just plain eliminates “most” of it. The only piece of the background left is the shadow. (Sort of like the Cheshire Cat.) It would have been nice if I’d had the chance to shoot this fellow on a seamless white background and be done with it. Unfortunately, he was in the middle of a dance circle with other dancers and …

What Do You Do On A Raining Day With Photoshop Lightroom?

I run into a lot (okay, some) people who are doing what’s known as a 365 Project. You can find many examples of such tasks on Flickr or some of the other social photography sites. The trick is to take at least one photo every day for an entire year. It is a good idea to live someplace that has beautiful clouds or sunsets every day, but most people don’t live in Shangri-La or other Edenistic locales, Most of us live in the real world. Today’s image gives those of us in not so pristine climates a chance to keep the momentum going. It’s simple …

One More Way To Deal With Distracting Backgrounds In Photoshop Or Lightroom

Okay, in today’s image you can see that “the background” isn’t exactly a big distraction. In fact, it isn’t. It isn’t anything. It was never there. Adobe Photoshop (PS) really had nothing to do with what you’re looking at. Just about everyone knows the bane of a photographers existence is a bald sky. That is usually the case. But, in today’s image it works to our advantage. The local Garden Conservancy had an “open garden” this past weekend. Naturally we rallied the troops and got some friends out shooting in the garden. It’s a beautiful, private garden that is only …

Taming The Sun Using Lightroom

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. (Hmmm, pretty catchy. Someone ought to use that as the opening line of a book or something.) Anyway, I was out shooting with some friends on Saturday. One of the group had arranged for us to go to a horse farm here in Connecticut. As far as the day goes (end of October) you couldn’t ask for a better day to be outside in the fresh air. As far as shooting goes, yuck! Brilliant blue skies with the sun shining down mightily. The only way (for me) was to shoot for the shadows and bring the hot areas back in post processing…

Getting Depth And Dimension Using Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush

The first thing I’d like to do is thank Steve over at Photoshop: Senior Edition for picking up the posts here on the Gallery, giving proper credit and passing along the info. I got a kick out of the video he did exploring adding a Luminosity Adjustment Layer to images in order to fine tune the colors. Thanks Steve. Let’s get together to discuss how we can add benefit to both blogs. BTW: Photoshop: Senior Edition can be found by clicking this link.Now, about today’s image. Basically it’s a shot of a knot in a piece of sawn barn board. It’s a plain old flat chunk of wood. The depth from the high spot to the lowest spot is probably no more …

Adding Dramah With Photoshop Blend Modes

First, I know. Drama is misspelled in the title, but there’s a reason. The shot is of Egg Rock Light in Frenchman’s Bay Maine. And “Mainer’s” from down east put an upward tick of “ah” on almost any word ending a sentence. That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it. The “big question” posed by today’s image is “how many shots does it take to make a dramatic image?” Well in this case the answer would be three and it might not be the three you might think. I’m kind of notorious for replacing uninteresting skies, but that “ain’t” it. That’s the sky that was there when we were there. It’s not the lighthouse ’cause that’s what I was taking a picture …

Wednesday Q & A Using Multiple Copies of the Same Image in Photoshop

I’m always checking what search terms bring people to the Gallery. Number one is questions about Smart Objects or Smart Filters. Number two lately are questions about using multiple copies of same image in a Photoshop (Adobe Photoshop CS6) document. There’s two ways to go with this question and they’re about polar opposites. One would be using copies of the same image as elements in a composition. Here’s a post on The Gallery about that type of use. The rose is the primary point of interest (only point of interest) and is repeated as the sole background elements. It’s enlarged and thrown out of focus, but it is recognizable. I don’t think that’s what people are searching for. I think they’re looking for a way to layout a Picture Package. Sort of like today’s image. I figured I had to really blur out the face of the person because I don’t have her permission to use a recognizable image. Trust me when I say she is a very lovely young woman. Adobe didn’t include Picture Package in CS5 or CS6. It’s available. It can be used in either CS5 or CS6, but you have to jump through a couple of hoops (just once) to get it running on the newer versions of Photoshop. To learn how to get Picture Package and get it going, hit the “Read More”.The easiest way to give you the method is to defer to Steve. I don’t know who Steve is (I believe he either is or was in 2010 working for Adobe in their forum support [based on the word Staff in the header), but I did a Google search on Photoshop +Picture Package and found this in the Adobe Forums:· 10. SG…, Dec 28, 2010 1:37 AM in reply to the pear ReportHi,You can download the optional plug-ins for CS5 Windows here: 4376Once downloaded, unzip (extract) the package.Note: If you are using a 64-bit edition of Windows, then, by default, there are two editions of Photoshop installed on your computer: a 32-bit edition and a 64-bit edition.The default location of the Plug-ins folder for the 32-bit edition is C:/Program Files (x86)/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS4/Plug-Ins.The default location of the Plug-Ins folder for the 64-bit edition is C:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS4/Plug-Ins.1. From the PSCS5OptionalPlugins_Win_en_US folder, copy/Optional Plug-Ins/Win32/ContactSheetII.8li plug-in into the C:/Program Files (x86)/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Automate folder (for both Contact Sheet II and Picture Package) and/or/Optional Plug-Ins/Win64/ContactSheetll.8li plug-in into the C:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Automate folders (for both Contact Sheet II and Picture Package).2. From the PSCS5OptionalPlugins_Win_en_US folder, copy the /Presets/Layouts folder into the C:/Program Files (x86)/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets folder and/orC:/Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS5/Presets folder.3. Restart Photoshop.regards,steve All I have to say is thanks Steve and thanks Adobe Forums for providing good information.

How To Clear A Room Using Photoshop

There’s nothing like getting special, off hours, access to a building like the one in today’s image. Having the luxury of taking your time, setting up the shot without the hassle of seventeen people milling around, intruding on the shot. Well, that’s not exactly what happened with today’s image. There was, indeed, seventeen people wandering around, on the floor, on the stairs, on the balcony, in the other room, through the doorway, just about everywhere you can think of. Thank goodness there’s Adobe Photoshop (in this case) CS6. Those of you who have played around with Photoshop probably know what a pain it would be to have to clone out seventeen of anything in an image. Luckily, something was introduced in CS5 that made life easy when trying to do this type of “cleanup”. Some things were easy using the Healing Brush (J) with the Content Aware button checked. The rope and stands blocking off the table and chair in the lower left were ideal for the Healing Brush (J). One swipe and a portion of the rope was gone. Another and the stand became history. A little attention to detail and the part of the rope that fell along the arm of the chair was no more. Things like that are easy. Getting rid of seventeen people without a whistle, a gun or a whip and chair? Not as much. To find out what makes it easy, hit the “Read More”. Adobe, with each introduction of a new version of their Creative Suite, puts in, and wildly discusses, the “hero” additions to each application. Photoshop typically gets the most fanfare because it’s the most widely used part of the Creative Suite. The “big ticket” additions have tutorials, websites, videos and live events showing them off. The rest of the additions get a “oh yeah, we also put this, this and this in this time around”. They aren’t the big, sexy things. But, they can be used to great advantage if looked at with a jaundiced eye.The “also ran” addition, introduced in CS5 that helped made getting rid of those seventeen people wandering around is the Auto – Align Layers (Edit/Auto – Align Layers). Obviously, multiple copies of the same scene are required to make this work. I’ve used Auto – Align Layers with shots taken outside, hand held, to insure any camera movement is minimized. Inside, at Gillette Castle (today’s image) the camera is going to be on a tripod, so camera movement should be zero. Due diligence was done, making sure the tripod was solid, the camera locked on, a remote trigger was used, all the pieces were in place to be able to get a series of shots that would be one exactly the same as the one before.The “trick” to getting rid of those seventeen people is to take a shot, wait, take another shot, wait, take another shot, wait (you get the idea). Unlike the rope and the stand that was taken out with the Healing Brush (J), people are mobile. Take a shot, there’s a person on the stairs. Take another shot, the person on the stairs is gone but now someone is standing in front of the settee just about centered in the image. Shoot again. No one in front of the settee this time, but someone is up on the balcony. (Again, you get the idea.) Auto – Align Layers aligns everything that’s stationary. So, take several shots, use A-AL and put Layer Masks on each Layer. The easier method is to Invert the Mask (CTRL I eye) to get a black Mask. That way you can “see” down to the Background Layer. If someone is standing in front of the settee, use a White Brush (B) and mask him/her out. Once you have everyone you can eliminate on that layer, select the next Layer up and do the same to get rid of the people on the Layer below. Keep working up to your upper most Layer and you “should have” gotten rid (in today’s image’s case) all seventeen people.I can’t tell you how many Layers you’ll need because every scene will be different. It could be as few as two or as many as twelve. It all depends on what’s going on.

Showing Off Western Connecticut With Photoshop

Lately I’ve been featuring a couple of Connecticut’s larger cities. Notably, Hartford and New Haven. Coming up I have several more cities I think will make good subjects for images and probably discussions. Today’s post and image are geared more toward the quieter side of the state. There is a part of Connecticut that’s referred to as “The Quiet Corner”, but that’s the northeast piece of the state and almost as far as you can get and still be in Connecticut. In past posts I’ve talked about Kent and western hills. Today we’re about on line (north/south) with mid-state and one town in from the New York State line. The bridge in today’s post spans Lake Lillinonah along Route 133. It connects the small town of Brookfield and the smaller town of Bridgewater. The lake is manmade and ends at the Shepaug Dam in Monroe (?). There’s a little parking area at the south side of the bridge. An “informal” trail leads down under the bridge to the spot where today’s shot was taken. To find out about the processing of today’s image, hit the “Read More”. When we left the house there were beautiful clouds in any direction you looked. The first order of business was getting some lunch. After lunch the sky had darkened considerably and the great, puffy clouds were headed east. When we got to the bridge it was to the point where you had to be selective about pointing the camera to get any clouds. The shot(s) is a five shot bracket at one stop increments. Only shots one, three and five were used to make the HDR composite. It was done using Adobe Photoshop CS6’s HDR Pro. Once the HDR screen came up the only thing done there was to make sure it was set to 32 bit. This gives, basically, an unvarnished image to send back to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4). Back in LR4, the shadows were opened up and the highlights brought down. To give more emphasis to the sky a diagonal Graduated Neutral Density filter was applied. (Upper left to below the bridge ironwork.) Another GND filter was applied to the rocks at the bottom to give then some heft. Next was a trip to Nik Color Effects Pro 4 directly from LR4. There it was just playing. Open a filter to reveal its possibilities and say “hmmm. that looks like it might be interesting” and click it goes. From there it was back to LR4 and over to CS6. The Nik’d version and the straight (yeah, right) version were opened in CS6 as Layers. (in LR4 – Photo/Edit in/Open as Layers in Photoshop) Since both Layers were different version of the same image, no alignment was necessary. With all the LR4 stuff and the Nik stuff, the concrete sides of the bridge had become too warm. The original LR4 version was too pale. Putting a Layer Mask on the top Layer allowed a compromise to be made on the concrete only. Back to LR4 (if you don’t have LR4, Adobe Camera Raw ACRwill do the same) for a final touchup and a vignette. (A subtle vignette.)

Wednesday Q&A: How Much Can You Crop Using Photoshop

Well, the simple answer to “how much can you crop an image” is as much as you’re comfortable. A couple of the big questions would be “what is the use of the shot” and “how was it shot”? If you’re using a DSLR, have a 2 GB memory card and can shoot a million images, the answer would probably be not much. The camera would have to be set to the absolute maximum compression and lowest resolution. Those images are meant to be used on your Facebook page or somewhere else on line. You can probably get a reasonable 4 x 6 print out of it, but not much more. If your camera is a new Nikon D800 and you shoot in Raw, you can probably print a billboard sized image that would look pretty good. Today’s question came from a friend (okay, a relative) new to photography. He/she wasn’t sure if she/he could print images the size I do with her camera, a Nikon D3200. Again, well… that’s a 24.2 Mega Pixel camera. It’s not quite a D800, but that’s still a lot of pixels. I print (have printed) images up to 24″ x 36″. That’s not often, but enough that I can offer it. The “friend” said he/she had an 11″ x 14″ made from one image and it looked like crap. I asked about the number of shots would typically be taken on a day of heavy shooting (undoubtedly the grandkids). The answer was “oh, a lot. Maybe as many as 60 or 70”. If you’re a shooter, that a really light shooting day (hour). The camera had been set to get the maximum number of images. We reset it to get the best possible JPEG images. There’s no image improvement being done on any of this person’s shots, so there’s no point to shooting RAW. (Maybe next year.) Today’s image is an example of about the maximum cropping I do. Hit the “Read More” to find my thoughts on cropping. Other than for format, my thing is to crop in the camera. Take a look at today’s image. Look side to side. It’s the full width of what came out of the camera. There’s a little bit of Perspective Control tossed in (and a little more in the final image), but other than that it’s all there. The cropping is top and bottom to get the aspect ratio that works with the image. After the crop there was still a little triangle of sky to the left of the tree truck. A tiny amount of cloning using the Clone Stamp Tool (S) made short work of that distraction.My reasoning for cropping in the camera is that I want to see what I’m going to have when I’m shooting. I’ve always done it and the only caveat I can give is that I will crop in both directions if the lens isn’t quite long enough. Then it’s typically only a small ring around the subject that’s removed. If I can’t “almost” fill the frame it isn’t only to make a good shot anyway, so why bother. Rick Sammon is always running around saying “the name of the game is fill the frame”. He’s pretty much right on that one.

Foliage Report For Acadia NP, October 15, 2012

We just got back from our annual (usually annual) fall foliage trip to Maine. There were a couple shots I really wanted to get and today’s image was one. I think we’ve shot The Bubbles from the north parking lot beach at Jordon Pond just about every year, but the main parking has always been so full that we just abandoned any hope of getting in there. Last week we were determined to wait it out and find a legit parking space. I say “legit parking space” to differentiate us from the clod from New York (who da guess) parking on the brick sidewalk, blocking everyone else’s path to the Pond House. I digress. (Sorry about the rant.) We only had two days in Acadia National Park this year, so we could only hit the highlights (Jordon Pond, Sieur de Mont Spring, one circuit of Park Loop Road, Eagle Lake, the little harbor of Bernard, dinner in downtown Bar Harbor and not a whole lot more). We wanted to search for foliage on the interior of western Maine for another couple days. Today’s image involved a little more finishing work than might be thought. To find out about our opinion of the foliage conditions this year and where Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 came into play, hit the “Read More”. First, the foliage. Last week, Sunday (October 7, 2012) through Tuesday the foliage was pre-peak. There was plenty of green still around. More than enough to be called “peak season”. At Eagle Lake it was hard to find trees that had turned. Last year, about the same week, there was color, but it was pretty drab. This year, mostly green. I’d say, if you’re headed to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park this week or next you’ll probably hit the foliage colors at their peak. There will be a couple of exceptions. The library in Somesville (the picture of the little white building with the arched walking bridge) was pretty dead. From some reason the leaves were pretty much down already. Along Park Loop Road everything would be green and then devoid of leaves for a quarter mile. Sand beach and the Beehive were still totally green. Offhand I’d say the foliage will be around until the first of November (barring a strong wind storm). The weather forecasters did say the foliage would be late this year. I’d have to agreed.The first thing to talk about would be how the shot was taken. There’s a path at the back of the Jordon Pond House that leads down to the south end of Jordon Pond. Right at the bottom of the path is a little (tiny) sand beach area. At first I sat down in the sand and took a couple shots. That didn’t give the right look to the water. The pond took up too much of the frame. I then laid down in the sand, giving the pond a flat look. It also gave more weight (bad pun) to the foreground rocks and giving a look that suggests I was neck deep in the water. To get the entire scene in focus, an F-stop of 22 was used. I tend to go with full F-stops. When I looked at the first set of shots I noticed my left foot (toe of my boot) was in the lower left of the images. A little adjustment of the position of my foot took care of that. Now, on to CS6 and LR4.Today’s image is not a multi-shot panorama. It is a single shot cropped to a pano format. The shadows on the foreground rocks were lightened using the Adjustment Brush in LR4 (also found in Adobe Camera Raw). All color corrections and enhancements were done with LR4 (ACR). A trip over to CS6 was necessary to reduce the curvature across the lake using CS6’s Adaptive Wide Angle Filter (Filter/Adaptive Wide Angle) . I didn’t want to remove the arc totally because it did need to show the length of the lake. Without some arc it might as will be a swimming pool. While in CS6 a couple small twigs sticking into the frame from the left side were removed using the Healing Brush (J). Back over to LR4 for sharpening and to add a vignette and the processing was complete.

Wednesday Q&A: Using Photoshop Brushes To Make Believable Composites

The foliage isn’t the only thing colorful at this time of the year in the northeast. Sometimes graffiti artists can come up with some pretty colorful artwork. Our town (Bethel, CT) is a fairly sleepy little burg and typically is kept clean, with no “tagging” of the buildings. But, there is one little section , over by the new train station (about fifty yards to the south) where “artistic expression” is alive and kicking. Take a look at the enlarged view (click on the image to see it “full size”). To the right of the image someone just got stupid and randomly sprayed paint haphazardly. To the left of the two walkers there is some real talent. You may have guessed (today’s title should have been a hint) that the two guys walking in the grass weren’t really there. The “trick” to today’s image comes from a question I was asked over the weekend. We were having lunch after Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk and one of the photographers said they were having all sorts of problems making composites look convincing. To find out what was done to the background and how the guys were added realistically, hit the “Read More” There are only three Layers to today’s image. That a lot less than most of the images seen here on the Gallery. Most images are more likely ten to fifteen Layers and occasionally go up to twenty, thirty or as high as fifty Layers. When the Layer count gets that high there’s usually a bunch of Smart Object containers involved. Three Layers is a piece of cake, especially when two are the same image. The brightening of the background colors was all done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4) before the images were ever brought over to Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6). The Background Layer was untouched and the other two Layers had Layer Masks.The image of the guys walking has a Layer Mask made from a Selection. I get asked the question about why use a Layer Mask rather than using the Eraser Tool (E) a lot. The answer is very simple. Once you erase pixels they are gone. Never to be seen again. Using a Layer Mask, if a mistake is made, the pixels are still there. If the part that’s wanted is black, use a white Brush (B) to bring them back and vice versa. Being “nondestructive” at this point is crucial. You can bounce back and forth using a Layer Mask. The sequence of the Layers is important. Looking in the Layers Panel, the first Layer (the lowest in the Panel) is the Background Layer. The next is the guys and the top Layer is a copy of the Background Layer. A black filled Layer Mask is added (ALT – add new Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Panel). Now, here’s the trick. Rather than using a round soft Brush (B), there’s a large selection of brushes in the dropdown where the Brush size is shown. One of the choices is a brush the looks like a few blades of grass. The Brush shape controls can be accessed by clicking on what looks like a folder in the Brush Options Bar. Click on the word Scattering and spread the frequency (Scatter) of the brush out. On the black Layer Mask, paint with white using the grass Brush. Alter the size of the Brush as needed. This will give space between the blades of grass, making a better looking cover for the shoes. The shoes won’t be totally blocked. Adds a more convincing set of grasses in front of the walkers shoes and lower legs.

A Long Trek Through The Woods With Photoshop

Sometimes you have to suffer for your craft. A long hike over hill and dale on a hot day to get to just the right spot to get a unique image. Then again, sometimes you stand on the side of the road and the shot is just there, as is the case in today’s image. Our recent trip to the Maine coast to shoot lighthouses we augmented the coast with a “return” trip through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We’re sort of known for “creative” routes home. We actually were leaving Lincoln NH on Route 93 south and saw an exit sign calling out Woodstock. My razor sharp mind (obviously not) instantly flashed images of a farm scene down a road. Of Main Street with some classic buildings. Of covered bridges and mountain vistas all found in Woodstock … Vermont. Opps, wrong state. It’s not that Woodstock NH isn’t a quaint little New England town, it’s just that it isn’t Woodstock VT. As we were driving into town I saw today’s image, pretty much the way you see it here (minus a fire hydrant by the door and a red flag out back). Made a mental note to stop when we were headed back toward the highway. Woodstock NH is kind of the Cinderella (per glass slippers) to Lincoln just to the north. Where Lincoln has made an effort to be a tourist area, Woodstock is happy being the little, out of the way, sleepy town next door. We wandered around town for a time, popped into a couple shops and found the local General Store (Lorri, you would have loved the HDR possibilities). As we started out of town we saw a sign for Lost River. We’d been there when our older son was still being carried on my arm. That probably means to was close to forty years ago. Had to go check it out. It was closed for the season, but you could walk a couple of the trails. Back to Woodstock and headed south out of town to get back to today’s image. Just a couple hand held shots and the rest was a little Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4) and Adobe Photoshop CS6 (CS6) work. To find out what that work was, Hit the “Read More”. As noted before, there was originally a bright red fire hydrant by the front door and a flag need the tree along the left side of the shot. Things such as these are made for the Content Aware used with the Spot Healing Brush Tool (J) or the Patch Tool (J). For the hydrant the Patch Tool worked great. Just draw a loose Selection around the object and move the selection to an area with something close to what you want to use for fill. The Patch Tool, being Content Aware (clicked on in the options bar) analyzes what you’ve picked as a typical fill and does it’s magic to fill in over the offending object. It’ll work 90{779b9c24f896c2c1487f0441b3c85e7a6d9a1729fe8287f47e1346492141eb41} of the time and if it does completely correct what you’re trying to do, it’ll get you a lot closer than you were 30 seconds ago. Another tool nested under the keystroke J is the Spot Healing Brush Tool. With a properly sized brush tip, one swipe (usually) and the flag was gone.Today’s image did take a trip to Niksoftware’s Color Efx Pro for bumping up the colors. That just involves playing around with their presets and making minor modifications to which ever ones tickle your fancy.

Photoshop Takes You Where No Man /Person Has Gone

One nice thing about Adobe Photoshop CS6 (and those versions before) is that you can go places in your mind and translate them to an image. Today’s image (the main portion at least) is at a parking area along the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, USA, looking west. I’m pretty sure hot air ballooning isn’t allowed in the White’s. The reason would be that hot air balloons go where the breezes take you for as long as you have gas in the cylinder. Typically you have a “chase” crew that follows the route of the balloon as closely as possible. That’s so the crew can pick up the balloonist when he/she comes down. That would be sort of a problem in the White Mountains. There’s kind of a lack of roads to do the chasing. Imagine landing six or seven miles from the closest road. I’d recommend a rather big, burly guy as (at least) one of the crew. Somebody’s going to have to lug that empty gas cylinder out to the nearest road, and those suckers aren’t light. So, chances are hot air ballooning in the White Mountains is at least frowned upon. But, with a little Photoshop magic, it’s no problem. Putting a balloon in the sky would be easy. Heck, putting an Army tank in the sky would be easy. Not believable, just easy. To find out how easy it was to put the balloon in the sky, hit the “Read More”. The day the image of the balloon was taken there was a solid blue sky. Not a cloud anywhere. It had rained the evening before, so any pollution had been washed out of the sky. Crystal clear (boring) blue sky was the order of the day when that image was made. The only nice thing was that the colors of the balloon stood out fantastically. I choose this particular balloon because of the contrast it would bring to the landscape shot. BTW: The landscape is about a six image panorama flawlessly put together by the magic of Photoshop. I caution I will give when creating a pano in CS6 is to be sure to check the radio button that says “Vignette Removal”. It makes life easier. The balloon was part of a multiple balloon image. Since I only needed one I used the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) to isolate the single balloon. I did a Copy (CTRL C) and Paste (CTRL V) into the landscape image. Once there I took the Magic Wand Tool (W) and clicked on the sky. The selection was then Inverted (CTRL I eye). The next move was to shrink the Selection (Select/Modify/Contract) by one Pixel. I always save any Selection, so I did a Right Click and chose Save Selection. No need to name it in the dialog box that pops up because it was the only Selection made in creating today’s image. With the balloon still selected a New Layer Mask (bottom of the Layers Panel – looks like a front loading washer) was applied and the sky vanished. Due to the one pixel contraction there was a thin halo around the balloon. Using a black Brush Tool (B) the rind was painted out on the Mask.The only thing left was to use the Move Tool (V) to place the balloon in the best possible location. The whole mess was then brought back to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (File Save/File Close) for finishing.

Wednesday Q&A: Removing Objects with Photoshop CS6

A couple of photographers I know asked recently about “clearing the decks” as one of them put it. He had an assignment to shoot a public place, but the editor said he didn’t want to bother with any people being in the scene. Since this was not a photojournalism gig, where there are harsh penalties for “altering” the content of an image, I figured he had a couple options. He could go through the people in charge of the public space and get an off hours shoot, or barge in and start telling folks to get out of the area. The first case would take weeks to go through all the paperwork and the second would be just downright rude. There was a timeline to get the image in and this guy isn’t the rude type, so a “perfect storm” of circumstance was coming together to have Adobe Photoshop CS6 (or earlier versions) come to the rescue. To find out what “magic” happened to today’s image to have clear sailing on the highway, hit the “Read More”.Today’s image is made up of two separate shots, hand held. A tripod would have been nice, but CS6 can take care of any misalignment pretty easy. A couple keys? Don’t change the zoom and don’t bring the camera down from your eye. That’s all. Keep breathing, it does help not to faint while trying to get the shot. The natural in and out of taking a breath will move the camera slightly. It’s okay. (Today’s image did have an added wrinkle thrown in to the mix. When I took the series of shots used for this example I was bracketing the exposure by 1/3 stops to get a choice of exposure densities. To make the finished image work I needed a couple shots with specific attributes. The foremost is having matched exposures. It was easy enough to overcome in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4). Two shots were selected because of the distances between the cars on the road. One was one stop removed from the exposure of the other. In the Basic Panel, LR4 (or ACR Adobe Camera Raw) just happens to have a slider named …wait for it… Exposure, and its units are exactions of F-stops. The brighter shot didn’t have any blown out highlights, so all the detail was there when the Exposure was dropped a full stop.) With that little aside out of the way we can continue. The images were brought over to CS6 from LR4 as Layers (Photo/Edit In/Open as Layers in Photoshop). Because of the breathing already discussed above, the two shot were not “in register” The shots did have common reference points. The road, the signage and the change of material on the bridges. CS6 has a neat little trick it can do to fix us right up. Edit/Auto-Align Layers brings up a dialog box. As is the case with many of the choices in the newest versions of Photoshop, the Auto option works just fine for the method of alignment. There’s not a whole lot left to do. Put a Layer Mask on the top Layer and use the Brush Tool (B) to remove the cars. In today’s image that did 95{779b9c24f896c2c1487f0441b3c85e7a6d9a1729fe8287f47e1346492141eb41} of the work. There were a couple spots where the bumper of a car might show through. Any areas like that would be hit with the Clone Stamp Tool (S). Less than five minutes work. . After that it was sending back to LR4 for finishing. A simple Save (File/Save) sends the composite image back to the same folder that the original images came from. Close out the composite in CS6 and you’re all set to do whatever adjustment you feel are necessary (Clarity, Vibrance, Cropping, etc.)

Controlling Blur In Camera, Not In Photoshop

So, what’s the big deal. If you have a shot where the background is too in focus and the image would look better with the background out of focus, no problem. That’s what Adobe Photoshop (CS6 or before) is for. That’s a hell of an excuse for not knowing what the camera will be doing before you press the shutter. Today’s image is pretty (really) straight for a shot by me. Just a little touchup in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (LR4) and it never needed to go to CS6. A friend and I were out shooting a vintage baseball game during this past summer. He was using a 80 – 200 F2.8 lens and I was using some 70 – 300 F4.5 – 5.6 glass. Before the game we did some informal portraits while the visiting team was warming up. He took a couple shots and said “I can’t throw the background far enough out of focus to make things interesting”. Duh! He had the faster glass and he couldn’t get some nice blur???? I turned around to see what he was shooting. He was about twenty five feet from his subject. I asked what F-stop he was on. 2.8 Again. Duh! What focal length? 200 Double duh! I looked at his screen and just shook my head. He had a little blur, but not enough to get that soft background you’d want for a informal portrait. What was the difference between his shot and mine? Hit the “Read More” to find out. The big difference was that he was going for a full length portrait and I was doing a “head shot”. He was 25 – 30′ away from he’s subject. I was less than 10′. He was shooting at 200 mm, I was shooting at 270 mm. He was at F 2.8, I was at F 5.6. A full two stops closed down from what he was using. This guy shoots weddings. Again ??? Let’s go to another friend. She had just gotten her first DSLR. She had been using a Canon G11. If you’re going to shoot with a “point & shoot”, Canon’s G series has been the high end since they came out their G series. So, she had had a pretty darn good camera that she came up from. She said she’d been working her way through shooting in manual and changing only shutter speeds to see the effect the shutter speeds had on her photography. Her next step was going to be changing only the F-stops to get an idea what they did. Interesting experiments. Once she finishes her testing I hope she will translate that into using Aperture Priority and know what’s going to happen with the F-stop she selects. I told her she had bought a thousand dollar plus computer. (She said she was still using her old computer and she’d bought a new camera. I let her know that she had bought a single purpose computer that people referred to as a camera.) I asked her not to use it as a glorified shoebox. I recommended she make all the decisions and let the computer (camera) do all the math. I’m a big believer in understanding what you want in an image, making the decisions necessary to make that image and letting the equipment do the heavy lifting.Take a look at today’s image. What do you see as a background? It’s the side of a school building with the brick texture stood vertically. Look again. You might be able to get a faint idea of what’s there. Selecting the F-stop isn’t the only factor in throwing the background out of focus. Understanding what the camera will do is important.