Editing in layers is a principle concept for being able to work in Photoshop. In this post we'll take a look at very basic masking techniques to start down the road of layered editing in Photoshop, or any other bitmap editor for that matter.
Understanding how to edit an image in Photoshop boils down to three core fundamentals, these being; layers, selections and adjustments. Everything that can be done in Photoshop, from the simplest edit to most complex of photo montages, revolves around the use of these three core features. Obviously there is more to layers, selections, and adjustments as you become more knowledgeable of Photoshop, but these are the building blocks that have to be understood in order to get any further in Photoshop editing.
Due to the lock-downs facing a large swathe of the global population, we have tried to accommodate photographers who are wanting to improve some of their editing skills while they are confined to home. As such, we are moving the seminar sessions to online small group teaching sessions using the popular Zoom desktop app.
The calendar of sessions is still available on the site under the Seminar Sessions. the online sessions will remain small so as to keep the classroom atmosphere as well as the opportunity for participants to engage with the instructor.
When you are in a programme like Lightroom or Capture One, the use of presets becomes a quick and easy - as well as fast - way to make changes to images. Rather than changing every setting individually, a photographer can select a preset that they have created, or even bought, to reset several parameters to one or several images at a time. To say that saves time is an understatement. Taking all the time required to individually adjust images, the use of presets can literally save hours out of a week of editing.
Lightroom has a killer feature that seems to often get overlooked by people who use it - Keywording. Maybe it’s because keywording is the least sexy part of the image pipeline. Yet it is an extraordinarily important part of every photographer’s workflow, and one that is not given nearly enough attention as it should. Keywords are by far the best way to find photographs when you have a large number of images that need to be sorted through. Lightroom continues to be one of the easiest ways to add keywords to an image, and one of the fastest ways to fin an image in a vast library, so long as you have actually keyword the images in the first place.
Nik, as an application, has been around since 2000 when it was was first incorporated into Nikon’s RAW software called Capture NX2. What made the software special was something called U-point technology. In a rather trite naming convention, it is supposed to refer to the fact that '‘you point somewhere, and it works'’. Yet, this is pretty much how U-point does work. Nils Kokemohr (founder and CTO of Nik Software), managed to create an application that looks at luminosity, colour and tone as a way of selecting an area for image editing. To this day, it is one of the most intuitive and effective ways to select localised areas in an image for colour editing. At any rate, Nik’s intellectual property has passed through several hands from Nikon, to their own, to Google and thence to DxO. In a nutshell, the selection tool that was first introduced in 2000 is still going strong, yet there are photographers who still aren’t aware of it’s power and how to use it effectively.
Depth of field in an image can sometimes be quite tricky to get right. Some images need an area to be in focus that is beyond the physical capabilities of the lens in use. Stopping down the aperture to achieve a greater depth of field comes at the significant cost of sharpness. Due to diffraction limitation, the sharpness of an image declines as you stop down past a certain point (around f8 in most lenses). With some images, even using a small aperture like f22 still doesn’t get the required amount of depth of field (this is particularly the case in close-up photography). In the past it was possible to achieve this extended depth of field using a Tilt/Shift lens taking advantage of something called the Scheimflug effect (basically tilting the lens so that the focus plane can effectively be extended). However, Tilt/Shift lenses are expensive, complicated and slow to use, and to top it off, are heavy. Thankfully digital photography allows us to achieve massive depth of field through something called ‘focus stacking’.
The number one reason why images fail, is focus (possibly it’s a tie between that and poor composition, but even the latter can be excused by some as art 😉). There’s that gut twisting realisation when you are going through the images from a shoot only to realise that the focus was out. What could have been fantastic, gets added to the trash pile. We now have blistering fast auto focus, face detection, dynamic tracking, 3D tracking, a gazillion focus points, micro-tuning (automatically calibrated on some cameras even) and more. You’d think that it would be as simple as pressing a button and shooting. But it’s not. Although we can get passably sharp results almost every shot, we still miss critical focus from time to time (if not more occasionally) and it is mind-numbingly frustrating!
There are a number of things we can do to try and improve focus when we are shooting, whether it’s shooting a landscape, a moving animal, or a close-up. I personally feel that correcting focus falls under these three broad categories of; Calibration, Settings and Technique.
The weather is going to be terrible. Just prepare for it. Absolutely bloody awful. Iceland is renowned for the fickle moods of its weather. For the island, weather is like a petulant teenager, blowing hot and cold with gale force tantrums and days and days of melancholy gloom interspersed by moments of extraordinarily beautiful sunshine. At least that’s how the theory goes. In fact in 2018 the year’s weather held pretty much to this pattern. When we arrived in June of last year we were greeted with 2 days of half sunshine. “Oh, you’ve seen our summer”, exclaimed a waiter who was serving us at the famous Ork Pizzeria. So, drenched and cold we visited and shot waterfalls and mountains, streams and extraordinary vistas in the drizzle and downpour.
I am admittedly stubborn when it comes to post-production. Although I am a firm advocate of continuously learning new techniques, I do tend to be late on the uptake. As is the case with Adobe’s Merge to HDR pano feature in the latest version of Camera RAW (version 11.3). For a long time I have had a tedious, but effective, workflow creating HDR panoramic both for my own images, as well as for clients. The technique has involved layering images and selectively blending them into individual frames which are then stitched together to form a panoramic. The technique was long-winded, difficult to learn, easy to mess up, but extremely effective. Then Adobe gives everyone the ability to do it at the click of a button. It seems almost like cheating it’s so easy.
Here is the new process in a few easy steps: