Thursday, December 13, 2012
by Christopher O’Donnell
All true landscape photographers take pride in their work, and that pride usually comes from hours of Photoshop editing. While there are numerous guides, tricks, and hints you can follow to edit your landscape photos beautifully, most take some time and dedication to perfect. Before you delve into the unforeseen, and sometimes complicated, world of Photoshop editing, consider the following simple techniques that are the foundation of impressive landscape photographs.
1. Straighten Your Horizon
Presenting the most stunning photo of a sunset on the Venice canal won’t mean much if your horizon is crooked; it’s quite off-putting. To easily correct this in Photoshop, open your image and click View > Show > Grid to bring up some grid lines that you can use to guide your horizon line. With your transform tool (CTRL + T), rotate the image until your horizon is lined up correctly (Figure 1). To finish, crop out the uneven edges and press CTRL + H to put the grid away.
2. Make Your Horizon Off-Center
To be ascetically pleasing, a horizon that is not centered is much more intriguing to the eye and should be utilized whenever possible. In the example image, the horizon – although now straight – is too close to the center of the image. To rectify this, I am going to use my crop tool (keyboard shortcut: C) and eliminate at least half of the sky so that the balance of the photo is on the bottom, not the top (Figure 2).
3. Rule of Thirds
When looking at a photo, there are certain guidelines to follow composition-wise. One guide is called the “rule of thirds”, where you should visualize your photo as having two vertical and horizontal lines dividing the photo into thirds (imagine a tic-tac-toe board). The horizon (or other important line in your photo) should be along one of the horizontal lines, while other focal points should either lie along any of the lines or the point where they intersect (Figure 3). This creates an image that is more visually stimulating to the eye and allows it to wander across the whole image. If your photo has a focal point planted in the center of the frame, then the eyes will be drawn directly to the center and may not see a need to explore the other elements in your composition.
While ideally you should apply this rule out in the field rather than in post process, us photographers do not always have the time – or patience – to consider this, and rely on programs like Photoshop to line our images up correctly.
Looking at Figure 3, you can see that in the example image a major focal point (the tree in the top-right circle) is lined up perfectly with one of the intersection points. However, the horizon seems to be a bit low under the top horizontal line. To correct this, I’m going to crop out a bit more sky, and also crop out that distracting shadow in the bottom right-hand corner of the image.
4. Photo Filters
Film photographers – and some digital ones as well – use photo filters when out in the field to cast special coloring effects over their images. Warming filters will cast a slight orange/yellow hue to your image, while cooling filters will give your photo a blue hue. These are just a small sample of countless other filters you can use to add special effects to your photos. In Photoshop, however, you can easily add these effects with little effort.
To add a Photo Filter adjustment layer to your image, click on the “new adjustment layer” icon on your layers palette toolbar, or simply click on the appropriate icon on your adjustment palette (Figure 4).
5. While the example image is coming together nicely, the blue sky could use a nice warming filter. I chose “Warming Filter (85)” as my filter choice and set the Density to 25 (Figure 5). I deselected the “preserve luminosity” box since the warming filter was starting to create some blown highlights.
When compared to our original image, the improvement is quite apparent.
While this image isn’t even close to being at the end of my editing process, it has benefited greatly from a few simple visual enhancements that only took a total of ten minutes to complete. If you incorporate this tutorial into your workflow, it will provide your landscape images with a very solid foundation to begin applying your editing techniques to.
by Bill Jones
After looking at all the amazing tilt-shift images from our previous post, I’m sure you are ready to create some of your own. It’s really very simple to do. It can be accomplished in just a few easy steps. I am using Photoshop to create this tutorial but I’m sure it can be adapted for other photo applications. Lets get started.
First you want to select a photo that will work for this technique. You want to use a photo that has the perspective of looking down on the subject matter. This will make the effect more believable.
Here is an image I will be working with from Dr. Antonio Comia via Flickr. Please check out other images from this talented photographer.
Ok, lets get started. First open up your image in Photoshop. Once open, select the Quick Mask Mode from your toolbar or hit Q.
Next, with the Quick Mask Mode selected click on the Gradient Tool or hit G.
Select the Reflected Gradient Button and make sure your gradient runs from black to white as shown.
Draw a vertical line from the center of the area you want in focus to the point where you want the blur to start. It will probably take a few times to get it the way you want.
Next step is to go back into Standard Mask Mode by clicking the Quick Mask Mode again or hitting Q. Note: These are instructions for Photoshop CS4. CS3 has a separate button for Standard Mask Mode.
Once in Standard Mask Mode we are going to apply a Lens Blur to the image. Go to Filter>Blur>Lens Blur.
Now it’s time to experiment with the Lens Blur setting to get what you want. When you are satisfied hit OK.
To take it a step further and give your image more of a plastic look, play around with the saturation and contrast of the image. Here is my final image after some tweaking to the saturation and contrast.
That was easy wasn’t it! Just a few steps for a very cool effect. Have fun making your own miniature scenes!
by Christopher O’Donnell
Whether your model has that early-morning blur to their eyes or your shooting conditions were less than optimal, almost every portrait could benefit from bit of Photoshop eye assistance. By following these steps, you can achieve clear, vibrant, and piercing eyes all within fifteen minutes of post process work.
1. Click Layers > Duplicate Layer, then apply a layer mask by clicking on the icon on your layers palette toolbar (Figure 1). Select the Clone Stamp tool, and with a steady hand, clone out any unwanted or distracting reflections (unless you think they add to the portrait in some way). You may need to increase the brush hardness of your clone stamp (right-clicking on the photo will bring up the appropriate menu) when working along sharper edges, such as the pupil or the eyelids. It would also be good to clone out any redness in the whites of the eyes as well.
The layer mask is useful in case you over-do it with your cloning: for example, if you clone with too soft of a brush on the whites of the eyes and need to mask in the eyelids a bit.
2. When finished, if you did not use your layer mask, just delete it by right-clicking the mask and selecting Delete Layer Mask.
If you did use it, then you will need to merge down a layer so that our new effects will be applied to a layer with 100% uniform transparency. To do this, click on your base layer and duplicate it. The duplicate layer should appear right beneath the top layer (the one you just masked). Now right-click on the top layer and select Merge Down to combine both layers into one.
3. Let’s create a new level adjustment layer by clicking on the Levels icon in your Adjustment palette (Figure 2). Alternatively, you can select a Level Adjustment layer from the layers palette toolbar.
In the Adjustment palette, slide your levels around to lighten the white colors and darken the darker ones. Usually, you will only want to increase the black point triangle by very little since the outlines of the eyelids as well as the pupils are already very dark. However, the white point triangle should be adjusted rather liberally, and the midtone point slider pushed slightly whiter by sliding it to the left. For this example, the black point was reset to 9, midpoint reset to 1.30, and the white point to 225 (Figure 3).
Do not care about what this adjustment does to the entire photo, just focus on the eyes. We will be masking out the level effect on the entire image shortly.
4. Click on the layer mask for the level adjustment layer that was automatically added and delete it by right-clicking and selecting Delete Layer Mask. You can also delete it quickly by clicking on the layer mask and drag-and-dropping it into the trash can located on your layers palette toolbar.
While holding down the ALT key, click on the Add Layer Mask button on your layers palette toolbar to add a black layer mask, which will hide the effect and allow us to only mask in what we choose (Figure 4).
5. Click on your brush tool and set your opacity to 40% and the Master Diameter large enough to cover the entire eye. Make sure your hardness is set to 0% so that we have a very soft brush. In one circular motion, mask in the entire eye AND the entire area around the eye (about one brush width outwards from the eyelids) so that we eliminate some unwanted shadows. With the same brush, this time mask only the eye and eyelids, and finally with a smaller brush, mask just the inner eye area. Our goal is to create a gradual and flattering brightening effect around the eye that increases in intensity as you move towards to the pupil area. The finished result should look something similar to Figure 5.
6. To finish, we are going to liven up the eye color a bit. Click on your base layer (the first layer under the adjustment layer) and then select your Oval Marquee tool, making sure the “add to selection” option is selected from the top toolbar (Figure 6). Select the entire iris area, adding to the small circles you create so that the selection is accurate. When finished, switch to the “subtract from selection” option, located just to the right of the “add to selection” option, and subtract the dark pupil area.
7. To finish the selection, click on the Refine Edge button on your top toolbar and adjust the feathering so that the edges of your selection are gradual and soft. Click OK when finished (Figure 7).
8. Add a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, which should automatically provide you with a layer mask that only affects the area we just selected. Increase Saturation to about 50%, or whatever you consider to look natural and vibrant (Figure 8).
As an optional edit, you can select your Burn tool and with a very soft brush set at an opacity of about 8%, burn the eyeliner and eyelid area slightly to add a smokey eyeshadow effect.
Eye editing is certainly not limited to just red-eye removal, and by using the tools provided in this tutorial, you can be ready for any imperfection the camera decides to throw your way!
Sodium chloride (salt) is essential to the body. The sodium in salt helps transmit nerve impulses and contract muscle fibers. Working with potassium, it balances fluid levels in in the body. But you only need a tiny amount of salt to do this, less than one-tenth of a teaspoon. The average American gets nearly 20 times that much.
The body can generally rid itself of excess sodium. In some people, though, consuming extra sodium makes the body hold onto water. This increases the amount of fluid flowing through blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure.
Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from prepared and processed foods. The leading culprits include snack foods, sandwich meats, smoked and cured meat, canned juices, canned and dry soups, pizza and other fast foods, and many condiments, relishes, and sauces — for starters. But enough comes from the salt shaker that it’s worth finding alternatives. Here are 5 ways to cut back on sodium when cooking or at the table:
- Use spices and other flavor enhancers. Add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots (such as garlic and ginger), citrus, vinegars, and wine. From black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric to fresh basil, chili peppers, and lemon juice, these flavor enhancers create excitement for the palate — and with less sodium.
- Go nuts for healthy fats in the kitchen. Using the right healthy fats — from roasted nuts and avocados to olive, canola, soybean, and other oils — can add a rich flavor to foods, minus the salt.
- Sear, sauté, and roast. Searing and sautéing foods in a pan builds flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken. If you do steam or microwave food, perk up these dishes with a finishing drizzle of flavorful oil and a squeeze of citrus.
- Get your whole grains from sources other than bread. Even whole-grain bread, while a healthier choice than white, can contain considerable sodium. And bread contains salt, not just for flavor but to ensure that the dough rises properly. You can skip that extra salt when you use whole grains outside of baking. Try a Mediterranean-inspired whole-grain salad with chopped vegetables, nuts, and legumes, perhaps a small amount of cheese, herbs and spices, and healthy oils and vinegar or citrus. For breakfast, cook up steel-cut oats, farro, or other intact whole grains with fresh or dried fruit, and you can skip the toast (and the extra sodium).
- Know your seasons, and, even better, your local farmer. Shop for raw ingredients with maximum natural flavor, thereby avoiding the need to add as much (if any) sodium. Shop for peak-of-season produce from farmers’ markets and your local supermarket.