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January 27th, 2007

Playing with Filters

What do you do with a photo that’s nice but uninspiring? Play!

 

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This flower photograph was in focus and well exposed but generic. However, it turned out to be a perfect candidate for some filter fun. First, I tried Photo Filter under New Adjustment Layer. This works like putting a filter over you camera lens. The flowers were in shade, giving them a blue cast. I used a warming filter to counteract the blue. With the overall color corrected, it was time to get creative. 

Who says Photoshop can’t be fun? I could spend hours playing with all the filters available. I love some of the strange results possible. Here are only three of the variations I came up with.

 

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This first one used a “Twirl” filter (found under Distort). I played with the diagram in the corner until I found a twirl I liked. Then hit OK. It’s that easy!

 

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The next one was “Ink Outlines” that I found under Brushstrokes.

 

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The last one was an Artistic filter called “Plastic Wrap.” Each variation has a completely different feel. So, while learning Photoshop, don’t forget to spend some time just playing with the possibilities.

January 19th, 2007

The Amazing Patch Tool

 

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What do you do when the Healing brush isn’t enough? When there’s just too much to change?

 

Even looking at a small thumbnail view, the dark shape against the sky on the left is very distracting. It is too large for the healing brush to be effective, so I switched to the patch tool.

 

The patch tool looks like a sewing patch. If you’ve been trying out the healing brush, click and hold or alt click the band-aid icon to find the patch.

 

The patch tool begins with a selection. It works like a lasso tool. Select the area, then drag it to the texture you want to match. In this case, I dragged it over more sky. Upon closer inspection, I found the shape was actually the roof of a building. The more modern building didn’t fit with ancient ruins, so it had to go as well. I lassoed it with the patch tool and dragged it over the trees. The tool matches the texture chosen and blends it into the area.

It really is amazing how fast and easy it is to use. No more fighting to get clone stamp to look natural. Just circle, drag and you’re done!

 

Now I need to decide whether the road stays or goes, and what to do about the shadow. Maybe I’ll do some more touch-up work on the sky. With Photoshop, the possibilities are only limited by my level of experience. But that’s another entry.

January 14th, 2007

Using Hue and Saturation

 

 

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While we’re talking about color, I’ve been using Hue/Saturation on quite a few photos. The main thing to remember is that a little goes a long way. It’s very easy to overdo on this one. Keep it natural looking.

 

Again, we open a New Adjustment Layer. Click OK on the first dialog box to bring up the Hue/Saturation adjustment. The Edit box has different options. Use “Master” if you feel the whole photo is a little dull. More often, it’s only one color that needs a little more punch. I use it as a way to deepen the blue of a sky, or to add just a touch more yellow to this bush. In that case, choose the color you wish to enhance.

 

The Hue slider changes the actual color. The color strip at the bottom shows you how the color will change. For example, if you edit yellow by moving the Hue bar to the right, it will become green just as green is right of yellow on the color strip. Try moving the bar all the way right, then all the way left to see the color shift.

 

The Saturation slider affects how much of the color you have. All the way left, takes it away, turning to gray. Slide it all the way to the right to see the color distortion that occurs with excessive saturation. Pull it back to eliminate the problem areas.

 

Lightness is pretty much what it says. Try playing with it to see what appeals to you.

 

The difference in these before and after photos is subtle. Not all changes need to be dramatic. Sometimes just a small touch makes the photo match the vision you had when you took it in the first place.

 

January 6th, 2007

Color Correction with Curves

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Over the holidays seems to be the time we take out the old family photos. Were you shocked at how the colors have changed over the years? I knew the baby blanket was white and his outfit was once blue. What happened? Color photographs over time will shift to yellow, magenta or green. Is there an easy way to correct this shift? The answer is YES! Believe it or not, it’s part of using curves.

The first time I played with curves, I had no idea what I was doing. I just moved the line around, saw it do some pretty weird things and decided to skip it. However, with a little instruction, I found it to be a powerful and extremely useful tool. So let’s start with something easy.

Open your photo, then choose Layers, Adjustment Layers, Curves. For today, ignore the diagram and look for the three small eyedroppers in the bottom right corner. Click the first dropper. This sets your blacks. Click the dropper on the blackest part of the photo. The far right dropper is next. Use it to set the brightest white of your photo. Photoshop will calculate the amount of color cast and automatically adjust your colors. But wait, you still have one dropper left! This one can be a little tricky on some photos. It sets a mid-tone grey. If your photo is of your child outside, you may have a roadway or concrete driveway to make it easy. In this photo, it took a few clicks to get the right area. It was a lighter shadow in the background. The change was instant. So easy!

Maybe you’re still stuck on “Open your photo.” There are a number of scanners or scanners with printers available. (Our daughter requested one for Christmas.) Contact us for information. Byron can help steer you to the one that will fit your needs.

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