Photog Chris's Blog

got a camera and photoshop, fun times

A walkthough with water and bird

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Ah, another walk though. I guess I am not much on creating tutorials, but a walk though is not only easy, but can give you ideas in processing that you might not have though of before.

This picture was created in Photoshop CS4 with the use of Nik’s ColorEfex, Dfine and Silver Efex plugins. The third party plugins are not absolutely required. Photoshop can do the work without them, but it is easier with them.

Here you have the RAW image with no processing.

RAW, unprocessed

One thing you need to know, when shooting in RAW the camera does NO work for you. If you shoot in jpeg the camera will boost the contrast, smooth the noise and adjust the saturation. It will also only shoot in 8 bit color, leaving you very little room to manipulate the image.

Here I imported the image though Adobe Camera Raw. I boosted the blacks and played with the color balance a bit, along with cropping the image for a nicer composition.

import and crop

Not bad, but if you check the full size there is some noise. So I ran it though Nik’s Dfine, denoising  plugin. You could Photoshop’s Reduce Noise but I like Nik’s better.

I reduced the noise though out the picture with the exception of the bird it’s self. The plugin was smoothing out the plumage too much. Nik has a quick and easy masking system, one of the reasons I use it.


Next I went to another Nik plugin, Silver Efex. You can use Photoshop’s Black and White Adjustment layer, but again I feel that I get more control using Nik.

You might be asking, why convert to Black and White in the first place? I find it a good way to boost contrast not only by the luminosity of the image but by the color values too. Here is the B&W

And here is the B&W set to Luminosity in the layer blending mode.

B&W set to Luminosity

We are getting there, but everything is too bright. My first thought was to use a Curves adjustment like the one below.

Darkening Curve

But I decided to go back to Nik Color Efex and use a Low Key filter. They both do something similar but the Low Key filter  adds a bit of glow. I could add that glow manually but why when you already have it.

Low Key filter

So what happened here? The mid tones were darkened while the highs and lows were left alone. With Nik’s plugin some glow was added to the brighter areas.

At this point I really like what I have. I save the image and think about sharpening. But before I do that, I thought of a technique I’ve rarely used. Using a High Pass filter to soften an image. How do you do that? Duplicate your image and apply a High Pass filter (filter>other>high pass). Here is what you get with a setting around 2.0

High Pass

Doesn’t look like much hmmm? View it full size and you’ll see some detail, just not much. Next Invert the layer (image>adjustments>invert) and set the Layers Blending mode to soft light. I didn’t like it. Bummer.

But, before deleting the layer I slid the blending mode to Luminosity and began checking each mode to see what they looked like.

Did you know that if you select the blending mode and hit the up or down arrow keys on your keyboard the  type of mode will change?

So, when I got to Color Burn I saw something interesting. It was too strong so I reduced the opacity to 50% and got this.

color burn

Like it? Well, I did, I hope you do too. Now this is finished, almost. Before I am finished I reduce to a smaller image resolution, this one ended up at 1500 x 1005 pixels. I also do a bit of sharpening just to see ii it needs it. I use a High Pass filter at a value of 2 set to Soft Light.  I liked it too so I added my tag and below is the finished image.

Fini - click for full size

Thanks for reading



Written by photogchris

June 11, 2010 at 6:35 pm

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