How I Did It…. Part 1
So I’ve never claimed to be a Photoshop expert. I’ve never had a Photoshop class or even a photography class. Everything I know I’ve learned by experimenting or by reading information on the web (I’ll provide a few great links at the bottom of this post).
I don’t mind sharing any techniques I use, but keep in mind that there are hundreds of ways to achieve a result in Photoshop. What I’ll show you is one way that I’ve learned and works well for me.
If you want to know “How I Did It” for any photo on my flickr photostream, leave me a comment on this page or send me a flickr mail. I’ll be glad to make it my next “How I Did It” entry!
First of all, this shot is an HDR shot comprised of 3 photos, each at different exposures (-2, 0, +2) or (1/400, 1/100, 1/25). I used a tripod to avoid any movement.
Here are the 3 SOOC (straight out of camera) raw images converted to jpeg (always shoot raw!):
These 3 raw images are opened directly into Photomatix to generate the HDR:
Once it’s finished processing, click the Tonemap button. I always tonemap using the details enhancer option. Here are my tonemap settings for this image:
(you may need to click on the image to get it to a readable size)
These settings could be different for every HDR you produce. You need to just play with the sliders until you find what you are looking for. I’ve found a setting that I like and actually works for most of my HDR’s. If that’s the case, you can save the settings and re-use them in Photomatix. All of my flickr HDR images have the tonemapping settings available to view. On the right side bar of any image, under the camera information there’s a link that says “More Properties”. Click there and you can find the settings.
Once I got the settings I wanted, I saved as a .tif and opened it in Photoshop CS2:
These first 3 steps are done almost the same way just about every time I process a photo. After that, it depends on the photo and the look I’m going for. For this one, I wanted to really darken the clouds and give it a dark ominous feel.
So at this point, the sky was fairly noisy. So I did a “Stamp Visual” (ctrl-shift-alt e). This merges all the layers into one layer on top. I then did a Filter >> Noise >> Reduce Noise:
These are pretty heavy settings so I masked out the bottom part of the photo (trees and building) so I wouldn’t loose any detail there. Then I did another “Stamp Visual” (ctrl-shift-alt e).
Next, I thought the sky was still to noisy so I did another “Stamp Visual” (ctrl-shift-alt e) and ran the “Reduce Noise” filter again with the same settings, again masking out the trees and building.
The next step is a trick that I discovered accidentally while trying out selective color processing. Duplicate the image and convert it to black and white:
Then, holding down the shift key, drag the black and white image on top of the color – making the black and white image a layer for the image you are working on. Put that layer in “Multiply” blend mode:
This really adds the dark tones and contrast. I tend to use this a lot as I really like the strong contrast in my images.
The last step is something I’ve been doing to a lot of my photos lately. It’s a small, easy step but It makes just enough difference in the outcome of the photo.
Start a “Color Balance” layer:
Click on “Shadows” and make the “Color Levels” read -5, 0, 5
Then click on “highlights and have them read 5, 0, -5
I hope this helps some, or at least gives you some ideas. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a flickr mail – I don’t mind trying to help. And as I mentioned above, if there is a photo in my photostream that you want to see here in the “How I Did It”
posts just let me know.