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Friday, January 4, 2013

Photo post-processing

Here's a teensy insight into how I use photoshop to edit my photographs.

almost never use masked fill or adjustment layers as much as in this picture. But they turned out nice - maybe I should use them more often??

In this case I only have a jpg-file. My newer photographs are all shot in RAW, so I can get the best out of every pixel before messing with artsy stuff in photoshop.


↑ Original JPG. I think it's a nice photograph to begin with.


I add an adjustment layer Vibrance. One of my favourite features within the new versions of the software.


↑ Vibrance added

I could stop here. The train pops out enough and the overall feeling is nice. Warm despite the snow. But I'm not pleased yet with the lighting of the snow. And I want an overall more surreal colouring. So I have to take other measures.

I selected the blue channel and filled the selection with blue on a new layer.


↑ + C) blue fill layer on Overlay

I selected the red channel and filled a new layer with red. I masked the layer where I already had the blue Overlay, so the two wouldn't cancel themselves out.


↑ + B) red fill layer on Overlay

This way I achieved a high contrast between the reddish light on the snow and the snow that's only hit by global lighting from the blue sky above.
Now, the sky in the picture is not blue, but only because we only see the portion of sky that is coloured warmer due to the setting sun.
I masked off most of the upper third of the blue Overlay, because I need the sky really warm. Additionally I use a gradient adjustment layer on Soft Light to warm up all the upper part of the background.


↑ + A) dull orange Gradient on Soft Light. Finished editing.

Thinking so much about it, maybe I bumped the intensity a bit too much? The reds of the locomotive are all 100% saturated... I try to avoid 100% of anything when editing photographs. I don't like to play around for hours and I don't like to undo steps entirely, so I use adjustment and fill layers and masks a lot, where I can always change parts without starting all over.

If I'm in doubt, sometimes it helps me to review my editing a few days later. Sometimes I like it initially or think a little levels adjustment suffices and then weeks later I have an idea how to really get the best out of a photograph. Sometimes I don't like it at all, but I'm fed up and post it anyway. :-D

The locomotive's name is Ernie, btw.

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