Friday, February 10, 2017

High Dynamic Range Basics

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Our eyes see much more than our camera. The technical term you may have heard of is High Dynamic Range or HDR. This is why cameras have a bracketing feature to capture a range of exposures that our eyes can see and our cameras have trouble capturing. 
With several exposure versions of the same shot, you’ll have several options to guarantee you have the right exposures. Be careful when using the HDR tool in Photoshop. You can push the limits too much making the photo look unreal. This may not be a bad thing if you are going for the dramatic look instead of realistic.

You should take between 3-7 photos when using the bracketing feature in your camera. And of course, unless you are a statue made of concrete, you'll need a tripod to hold your camera steady.
Here is some more information about bracketing.

If you don't use the bracketing feature, try manually adjusting the exposure and take a few shots. Make sure you under expose one,  get a shot with correct exposure, then take a photo that is over exposed. This way, you're sure to get a correct exposure of everything in your shot. You need at least 3 photos.

Next, in Photoshop do the following:
 File > Automate > Merge to HDR Pro. You'll be asked to find and load your photos.
Next you'll get a screen that looks like the following. There is a menu that will allow you to try various settings that Photoshop offers. Feel free to try them all just to see what they do. These settings are just there to get you started. You don't need to let any of these settings be your finished product.
When you find something close to what you want, use the settings menu to make further adjustments to bring out or hide the areas of the photo that you want. As shown below, there are several adjustments that you can make to further tweak for your final results.

Then, after making adjustments, you can take a bunch of average photos and end up with truly dynamic photo that looks like this.
Enjoy!

Monday, January 09, 2017

Photoshop - Easy way to create special Text Effects!

I love easy and awesome.
Here is a really easy way to overlay an image on text for a great special effect.
 Here I have my background image of stars, my text layer in the  middle, and the moon image I want to put onto my text on the top layer.
 Hold down the alt/opt key between the the top layer and text layer to create a clipping path of the image to the text. You'll see the mouse icon change between layers then just click.
If desired, you can add a layer style to your text to enhance your text even more. In my example, I used Layer > Layer Style - Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow.
Easy, and awesome.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Fonts Galore!

Fonts add a lot to your image. The font itself can make a statement or set a mood. There are even seasonal fonts to customize your image for any occasion.

Need or want more fonts?
Make sure that your Creative Cloud is active.
Click on the option bar  and select the down arrow next to the font name.
You'll see the "Add fonts from Typekit" option to click on.

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Select the font you want and click on "Use fonts". I selected "Hucklebuck" in the case.



I now have Hucklebuck available in my font list.

Monday, October 10, 2016

New features in Liquify!

Just when you thought the Liquify tool couldn't get any better, the latest updates in CC take Liquify to an all new level of usability and fun.
Photoshop's Liquify tool is now "face aware". What that means is when you decide to edit a nose, Photoshop knows where the nose, eyes, ears, mouth, etc. are and is ready to help you make subtle changes.


I wanted to give Bob here a little bit more of a small and widen the eyes just a bit. Instead of having to grab the proper tool and start editing, I just selected the mouth and eye option in the new tool panel that you get with Liquify.

Some of these new options include editing for the eyes, nose, mouth, and face shape.
If there is more than one face in the photo, you can even tell Photoshop which face to edit.

The Liquify tool has just become more user friendly and a big time saver when I want to use it!

Here's more about the new features in Liquify from Adobe:
https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/how-to/face-aware-liquify.html




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Photoshop - White Balance Basics

 A white or gray object in a scene takes on the color cast by the ambient light or flash used to shoot the picture. Cameras don't always see color the way our eyes do and light bulbs can cause color casting problems as seen in the photo below.

There are some handy tools in the Camera Raw Filter in PS CC. Simply go to Filter > Camera Raw.
Use the White Balance tool  to specify an object that you want white or gray, Camera Raw can determine the color of the light in which the scene was shot and then adjust for scene lighting automatically. In this example, I selected the eye dropper tool then click on the ceiling which I knew should be white or neutral color (gray).

Here are the results.

Photoshop removed color that shouldn't be there and the room appears the same as when I was viewing it.
You can always use the Auto feature to let Photoshop read the Metadata that came with the image.

You can get good results by using this tool too.
The best part is, no matter which tool you select, you can always tweak the temperature of the image by simply sliding the Temperature bar a bit until you are happy with your photo.
No more jaundice photos. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The power of using Adjustment Layers

Adjustment layers are a nondestructive way to make edits to your photos. Adjustment layers allow you to make edits without damaging the original image and allow you to go back to make small adjustments as desired.
In the photo below, the background for this band student is distracting.  I wanted to tone down the background by making it much darker.
I selected the Adjustment layer icon in the bottom of the Layers panel and selected the Exposure option. Then I made the entire photo darker by moving the slider to the left.
This also made the subject in the photo dark too. However, the beauty of Adjustment layers is that they automatically come with a mask. In the photo below, I selected the mask and painted in the mask with black to reveal the original parts of the photo I wanted in the layer below.
Note: You should always use a soft edged brush with edits and don't forget that you can change the opacity of what you are painting/revealing in the Options bar. Make sure you have the mask part of the icon selected when painting.

Since this is an Adjustment layer, I'm able to change or darken the exposure of the background even more if I change my mind. I selected the Adjustment icon in the layer and slide the Exposure to be even darker. The mask we created continues to allow the original exposure in the photo to show in the untouched layer below.
At any time, I could delete the Adjustment layer and start over. Or, continue to tweek my mask and exposure settings on this Adjustment layer that we have created.
That's the beauty of Adjustment layers. The original photo in the layer below (Background) is never damaged. And, I can continue to work on the adjustment layer as needed. Keep in mind, you'll need to save your document as a .psd file if you ever want to go back to work on your adjustment layer again.