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Feb
22

How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

What is it that makes one picture appear dull and another more striking? What is it that makes some tones appear detailed and others smooth and transient? The answer to both of these questions involves the issues of color hue, color purity, and tone distribution.

Prague A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This street scene in Prague is the original underexposed camera image.

Prague B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

The same image after tonal and color adjustments have been applied.

The science of color and tone

All color detail is determined by these three elements. In the Photoshop/Lightroom world, you’ll recognize these terms as HSL or Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. The world of photography is both an art and a science. The science part is filled with graphs, measurements, and strange words that most people don’t encounter every day.

These terms come from the scientific vocabulary of engineers, chemists, and mathematicians in the photographic trade. When digital cameras were introduced to the general public years ago, suddenly everybody could push around the colors and tonal range in their own pictures. While Adobe Photoshop provided a serious workshop, it showed up with a boatload of technical color science terms.

Unfortunately, if you don’t fully understand the terms, you may not be taking full advantage of the controls they provide. In this article, I’ll do my best to bring these terms down to Earth and make them understandable. We’ll get past the technical jargon and get into the practical application of these terms.

Hue, Saturation, and Lightness

Hue, Saturation, Lightness (luminance) are the irreducible minimum building blocks involved in good color editing and reproduction. While there are many more issues to be addressed in the processing of an image, these three are the make-or-break elements that must be understood and adjusted if you want your color images to catch a viewer’s eye.

Incidentally, when editing your images, these elements should be addressed in that very order; value (hue), intensity (saturation), and tonality (luminance). While hue and saturation concern color, luminance refers to the tonal structure of an image; pretty much an issue of dark versus light.

The Saturation slider affects the intensity of the color in an image. This is a powerful tool; exercise restraint.

Genoa A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

The Saturation effect on a Genoa Italy cathedral – normal saturation levels.

How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Genoa B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

None.

HSL Dialog Sat Low - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Genoa C - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Oversaturated.

HSL Dialog Sat High - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

A Primer on Image Detail

Contrast usually refers to the overall light-to-dark extremes of an image but the real power of post-production editing is in pushing the tonal values around inside the overall range.

But if you really want to make the detail in your image stand out, you must adjust the internal contrast of the image. The biggest difference-maker adjustment should be the middle tones of your images; tones in-between the lightest and the darkest in your image.

TrafalgarSq A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Trafalgar Sq O Levels - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

The middle slider in Photoshop’s Levels dialog is referred to as the gamma slider. Gamma is another one of those legacy scientific terms that you can think of as a “mid-tone” adjustment. Moving this elementary slider from left to right actually shifts the entire middle range of tones from lighter to darker.

TrafalgarSq B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This picture of the King Charles statue in London’s Trafalgar Square is backlit and was dark, but a simple middle tone adjustment opened up the shadows and revealed hidden detail.

TrafalgarSq A Levels - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Photoshop’s Levels tool is the most basic of tonal controls. There are actually several much more effective tonal shaping tools available in Photoshop and even more comprehensive controls in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom. We won’t get into a thorough discussion of these tone adjustment tools and workflow recommendations in this article (perhaps at a later time).

Leaves A - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Leaves B - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This picture of winter leaves was fairly well exposed but required both tonal and color adjustments to reveal the rich colors in the original scene.

Camera Raw dialog - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Editing for Tonality

There’s a reason why tone adjustment should be your number one issue in image preparation; even more critical than color accuracy.

Your eyesight has tonal perception and interpretation capabilities that far exceed the dynamic range of any digital camera. Make no mistake, capturing seven stops of light range is an amazing feat. But capturing this wide range of tones doesn’t automatically translate into detail, image definition, or good tonal distinction.

Properly reassigning those internal tones to more closely match what your eyes see is where the real editing magic happens. Hang with me here because this will get a bit involved, but I think it will definitely be worth your time.

LinearCapture Eye Camera - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

This chart shows the difference between the way your eye registers light and how your camera records it.

Camera View – Human View

Your camera’s image sensor records light quite differently than your eye perceives it. The camera actually records a lot of data from the lighter portion of the scene and very little data from the darker portion. The image sensors capture light in a linear fashion. Unfortunately, humans view the lighting in scenes in a logarithmic fashion.

You might say that original camera files usually benefit from a “fashion” adjustment, generally lightening the middle tones. Camera images that don’t get their tonal values adjusted almost always lose detail in the darker areas of the image. Virtually all camera images benefit from internal adjustments.

Chrominance and Luminance Explained

Chrominance deals with the color component of an image while luminance deals with the contrast or tonality component of an image.

Chroma refers to the color in an image while luma describes the non-color or tonal part. Achromatic is a fancy scientific word that is pretty simple to understand. Remember your high school English… the prefix “a” means “without,” so a-chromatic literally means without color.

In the HSL model of color, hue, and saturation fall in the chrominance column while tonality and contrast are on the luminance column (the structural or tonal backbone of an image).

Basic Luminosity Adjustments

Where does the term “luminance” come from? Light is measured in lumens. A lumen is the smallest measurable unit of light visible to the human eye. Luminosity then is the measure of lumens reflecting from (or transmitted through) a light source and perceived by your eye. The more lumens, the brighter the light. Light measurements are also made in increments called candelas. A candela is roughly the value of light produced by a single household candle.

Photo by Akshay Paatil on Unsplash

Just as “horsepower” is a carryover index of a measurement of power (relating to the pulling strength of multiple horses) candelas is an index of the cumulative light emitted from multiple candles. These legacy terms are sometimes confusing, and it would be nice if photographic color science terminology were simplified for those just entering the process, but until then, you’ll have to get acclimated.

I’ll take it slow, as you can easily drown in the scientific terminology minutia. I’ll keep the terminology on a basic digital imaging level so that you can make practical use of what you learn.

Basic Color Science

Ryb-colorwheel

As stated before, all color is composed of three elements; value, intensity, and luminosity. Value (or hue) refers to the “color” of color, or what differentiates red from orange or purple. Intensity (or saturation) refers to the purity color, distinguishing pastels to pungent colors (the more white light is combined with pure color, the more the color strength is diluted). Luminosity is the measure of the brightness and relates to the image’s lightness or darkness.

Hue (value) differentiates one color from another. Saturation (intensity) determines the purity of color. Luminosity (brightness) determines tonality.

The detail in digital imaging terminology is the degree to which colors and tones distinguish themselves from each other. While hue, saturation, and luminance all play a significant role in detailing an image, the heavy lifting of detail is done by luminance or the shaping of the internal tones in an image. Detail is a product of contrast, and contrast is almost completely controlled by the luminance element. This is why post-production professionals perform all their sharpening adjustments in the luminance channel exclusively.

Shadows Highlights dialog - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Photoshop’s Highlight/Shadow dialog box

Camera Raw dialog - How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality

Adobe Camera Raw main dialog.

Shaping Light

Contrast, like audio equalization, cannot be effectively accomplished by using a linear (bass-treble) type control such is the luminance slider in the HSL panel which simply lightens or darkens an image. The effective shaping of an image requires the individual adjustment of five specific tonal regions of an image; highlight, quarter-tone, mid-tone, three-quarter tone and shadow. I use a variety of controls to shape my tonal contrast.

Ansel Adams once stated, “Half the image is created in the camera, the other half is created in the darkroom.” Though you may never use a darkroom to produce a photographic image, the essence of his statement is still true. Capturing pixels with your camera is only your first step in producing a good picture, what you do with the image that comes out of your camera will determine your skills as a photographer.

Digital photography provides almost limitless avenues for personal expression. Shaping the color and tonality in your images is the backbone of great photography. Determine to learn something new about this fabulous art form every day. Push pixels around and stay focused.

The post How to Understand the Science of Photography and Technical Terms for Mastering Image Tonality by Herb Paynter appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
20

Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Focusing on color can help you communicate style and emotion. This approach is often referred to as color grading.

Color grading versus color correction

You may have wondered how this differs from color correction, which is more of a technical adjustment. A tungsten bulb, for example, will produce a color shift in your images that’s warmer than what you’re accustomed to seeing with your eyes. Often you want to adjust that hue, cooling it off a bit so that it appears more natural. That’s a correction.

Color grading, on the other hand, leans toward the artistic. You may want to add or enhance orange tones and teals to create a mood similar to what one would experience in the movies. Exact reality isn’t the goal. It’s more about a creative look that elicits a feeling.

Here’s a simple example. Compare these two portraits. The first picture seems perfectly fine. The rendered colors are similar to what we would perceive if standing there during capture.

Color Corrected Portrait - color grading in Luminar 2018

A reasonably color correct portrait.

The second image is color graded to communicate a style, a look. And even though it isn’t natural by everyday lighting standards, it’s interesting – and probably more engaging than the “correct” color version.

Color Graded Portrait - color grading using LUTs

This version was color graded in Luminar 2018 using Chrono-Steel LUT by Lutify.me.

All image editors are equipped to correct color. But some are better than others at providing the means to manipulate it stylistically. Luminar 2018 is one of those creative applications.

The Power of LUTs

Lookup Tables (LUTs) sound like a technical adjustment. And indeed there is plenty of color science at work under the hood. They are used to precisely shift colors from one spot to another. But those shifts can be stored in a container, such as a “.cube” file, that can be used to color grade an image.

So even though LUTs are precise color science, their recipes can be wonderfully artistic.

Las vegas comparison - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

A side by side comparison of this Las Vegas scene shows how color grading can breathe life into an image.

The original version of this Las Vegas scene was serviceable, but certainly not exciting. Nor did it convey the majesty of the building. By color grading with a teal and orange LUT, suddenly the scene comes to life.

Does it look exactly like that in reality? No. But does the image feel like Las Vegas? Definitely more than the original.

Applying LUTs in Luminar 2018

Your gateway to this type of color grading in Luminar 2018 is via the LUT Mapping Filter. You can add this adjustment to your workspace by clicking on the Filters button, and by choosing LUT Mapping from the Professional category.

Adding LUT Mapping - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

LUT Mapping is available via the Filters menu in Luminar 2018.

Once the filter has been added to the workspace, click on the popup menu inside the panel to reveal the built-in LUTs (such as Tritone and Kodack chrome 3), or to access LUT files that you may have already added to your computer via Load Custom LUT File.

Before After Color Grading

LUT Mapping Filter - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Luminar comes with built-in LUTs, or you can add your own.

Once you select a LUT, the image is color graded via the LUT’s recipe. You can fine-tune the recipe using the Amount, Contrast, and Saturation sliders. Also, a good companion filter for this color grading with LUTs is HSL, which provides color adjustments for hue, saturation, and luminance.

HSL Filter - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Tips for Effective Color Grading with LUTs

Creating a separate adjustment layer for your color grading provides lots of flexibility. The base layer is used for basic adjustments via the Develop filter and the other tools that you need to establish a good range of tones. The adjustment layer (Layers > Add New Adjustment Layer) contains the LUT Mapping, HSL, and other creative filters. You can then use the blend modes and the opacity slider for precise control over the grading.

Custom Preset - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Saving your LUT as a custom preset provides you with a preview thumbnail as well.

Another handy technique is to save your LUT color grading as a custom preset. Luminar makes this easy. Once you achieve a look that you want to use again, save it as a custom preset. Use the “Save Filters Preset” button in the lower right corner of Luminar. This provides the added benefit of a preview thumbnail for the LUT and its accompanying adjustments. You can create custom presets for all of your favorite LUTs. That’s a real time saver.

LUTs are also terrific for film emulation. There are LUTs for Kodachrome, Polaroid, and B&W film looks. This is a high-quality way to build your own Instagram-like filters, with a pinch of your own creativity added.

Downloading and Organizing More LUT Files

Skylum maintains a LUT downloads page that you can access through Luminar. Click on “Download New LUT Files” in the LUT Mapping popup menu. This will take you to the Skylum LUT catalog.

Download New LUTs - Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018

Once you download a new collection of LUTs, store them in a place that you will remember, such as a LUTs folder in Pictures or Documents. You’ll have to navigate there when you use the “Load Custom LUT File” command in Luminar. The application doesn’t store LUTs for you, so you have to remember where you are.

Bonus tip! Store your custom LUTs in Dropbox so you can access them from any computer.

Save Your Work

If you’re using Luminar 2018 as a standalone app (as opposed to a plug-in or editing extension), then save your favorite color gradings as a Luminar file. This allows you to return to the image and its settings at a future date to continue your work, or to change the color grading to another style.

Make it Look Easy

Your viewers may not realize the techniques that you used to create the enticing color schemes in your images. What they will notice are your style and creativity. Using LUTs can contribute greatly to that pursuit.

Disclaimer: Skylum (formerly Macphun) is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Easy Color Grading With LUTs and Luminar 2018 by Derrick Story appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
17

How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Photography can be traced back all the way to the camera obscura; which was an aid for artists who could then draw their subjects from the projection created by the light passing through the pinhole. Following that tradition, in this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to create a drawing by outlining the subject from your digital photo to create a fun, cartoon-like image.

Deer cartoon - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Getting started

You can use this technique on any photo you want and apply it to any subject you like. However, I find it best, especially for your first attempt, that the subject is well defined or isolated so it’s easier for you to outline it. I also personally prefer and recommend that the image is not too busy. So, once you have chosen your photo, open it in Photoshop.

Outline the subject

To trace your subject you are going to use the Pen tool. The way it works is that you create anchor points with each click. A straight line then connects those points. Do this all around the subject.

Once you have this, change the Pen tool to the Convert Point Tool, which you can find by holding down on the Pen until the drop-down menu opens. With the Convert Point, you can curve the straight lines to make it fit the silhouette best. Just click on the anchor point and start dragging it. From each anchor point, you will have to handles, each one to control the line in each direction of the anchor.

Pen Outline - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

This will help you get a smoother silhouette and avoiding unnecessary bumps that you would get if you only trace by adding anchor points.

Straight lines - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

A straight line.

Curve - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Using curved lines.

Create your outline

Once you have outlined the silhouette of the subject, create a new layer. You can do this by going to the top Menu > Layer > New Layer. You can rename it as “silhouette” or “outline” just to keep things tidy, as you will be creating more layers further along.

What you’re going to do next is turn this path into a drawing, more precisely, the line that borders your drawing. Therefore, you can choose which color it will be and how thick you want it. To set it you need to go to the Brush tool and select a hard brush as thick as you want. I’m doing 8px in this case.

You can also choose the color by clicking on the foreground color at the bottom of the tool palette, for this example, I’m using black. Turn off the background layer (click the little eye icon) so you can see how it will look like and then choose your settings.

Silhouette - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Now that you have this ready, leave the new layer active go to the path palette. If it’s already opened you can open it by going to the top Menu > Windows > Path. In there you will see that a Work Path has been created, the icon will show the image as a grey rectangle and the path is the silhouette you traced.

Next, right-click on the Work Path and choose Stroke Path. A pop-up window will appear, make sure the Brush option is selected and click OK.

Stroke Path - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Adding details

You have a border or a silhouette now, but you still need details. Each one will be a new layer and a new path, that way you have it separated and can, therefore, control it more precisely.

If you want two details on the same layer, for example, to keep the two ears in one layer so that any changes apply equally, then you keep working in the same layer. But you do need to create a new path for each one.

Notice here that I have my background layer which is my original image; a Layer 1 that corresponds to the Work Path which is the outline; and a Layer 2 that contains Path 1 and Path 2 which are the two details of the ears. This is why I suggested earlier that you should rename the layers and the paths to keep track of them easier. Continue doing this as many times as you need to finish your drawing.

Layers and Paths - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Apply a filter

Once you’re finished with this, duplicate the background layer. With this new layer active, go to the Work Path (the one that has the outer line of the drawing) and right-click it. From the drop-down menu, choose Make Selection. This will select your subject so that the filter you’ll apply next doesn’t affect the background, otherwise the entire will turn into a cartoon.

Now go to the top Menu > Filter > Filter Gallery. A window will appear with all kind of filters that you can apply and a preview image. In this case, you’re going to select the one called Cutout from the Artistic Filters. On the right side there are sliders to refine the effect, just move them around until you are satisfied. I’m going to do it as Number of levels 7, Edge simplicity 5 and Edge fidelity 2. When you’re done just click OK.

Cutout - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

Other tricks

You can also multiply your cartoons, apply modifying layers to change colors or saturation, and anything else you can think of! And the best part is that you can do this to any kind of photo, here are some other examples; share yours as well in the comments!

Three deers - How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop

The post How to Turn Your Photo into a Cartoon Drawing Using Photoshop by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
15

How to Rescue an Image in Lightroom With Split Toning

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Split toning is one of the most overlooked features in Lightroom (or any post-processing program for that matter). It’s a technique used mostly in the film industry and is apparent in just about any action movie poster. You know the ones, where the skin tones are super warm, while the background and shadows are cool and blue.

That’s all split toning is: adding a hue to your highlights and an opposing (but complementary) hue to your shadows. Most of the time, the best colors to stick with are an orange tone for your highlights and a blue tone for your shadows, although there are certainly exceptions.

How to Rescue an Image in Lightroom With Split Toning

Before processing.

How to Rescue an Image in Lightroom With Split Toning

After processing and split toning added.

Great location, less than ideal lighting conditions

The location was Ke’e Beach, an incredible spot on Kauai that is literally at the end of the road on the north side of the island. I was there with my workshop students and we had realized earlier on in the day that shooting conditions were going to be tough.

A think layer of vog (volcanic fog) had blown over all the way from the Big Island. It covered all of Kauai’s north side in a thick, desaturated haze. This made shooting conditions quite challenging. On top of all that, the ocean was quite angry that day! A rough sea is normal in the winter on Kauai, but this was something else.

Our goal at Ke’e Beach was to photograph the waves that exploded out of the sea and then fanned out, almost like seashells. But because of the conditions, the waves were just getting obliterated before they could fan out. Still, we didn’t give up. We focused on capturing the anger and drama of the ocean and everyone walked away with some great shots.

Split toning to the rescue

In the video below, I process an image from that evening from start to finish inside of Adobe Lightroom Classic CC. The problem with the shot is that it came out of the camera looking quite dull. Because of the thick haze and everything in the shot being backlit, the resulting RAW file looked almost monochromatic. The sky was grey and looked overcast, the rocks and water were dark, and it just looked uninspiring.

A common technique that a lot of photographers reach for in these situations is just embracing it and converting the image to black and white. But, if you’re looking for something new to add to your bag of tricks, split-toning can be quite effective at saving images as well.

For this image, I started out by doing what I could in the Basic module to bring out details, add contrast, and make the image pop. After a few other adjustments, I made my way down to the Split Toning module, adding a warm orange tone to the sky (the highlights) and a cool blue/teal tone to the rocks and water (the shadows).

Here are the settings I used in the Basic panel.

These are the Split Toning settings I applied.

The result is a dramatic looking shot that both effectively shows the power of the ocean that evening and also gives the impression of a warm, vibrant sunset.

After

Conclusion

Split toning is a powerful and fun technique. It can be used both to enhance already great images or save otherwise dull ones. When you discover this technique for the first time, you’ll have a blast going through your images and trying it out in different situations. And, just a heads up, it can be used on either color or black and white images. Regardless of the image type, you’re simply adding one hue to the highlights and another to the shadows.

Have you used split toning in Lightroom before or is this completely new to you? If you have done it, please share your favorite split toned image in the comments below. If not, give it a go and share your results.

The post How to Rescue an Image in Lightroom With Split Toning by James Brandon appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
13

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Over the past few months, I’ve been testing out the features of Luminar. I’ve looked at the time-saving features that can help reduce your editing headaches. I’ve also played around with the AI filter to see how it holds up in quickly editing holiday photos and now it’s time to check Luminar’s capabilities when it comes to creating a retro look for your photos.

I wanted to know if Luminar would be quick, easy to use and create a look that tastefully gave my photos the look and feel of shooting with film.

Retro Look #1

To embark on this experiment, I studied some famous older photographs. My goal was to shoot a few images that paid tribute to the look and feel of old-school Hollywood. I saw this first image of Sophia Loren from the 1960’s and knew it was perfect. I love the style of dress from past eras and thought this would be a suitable project.

Sophia Loren Image

The goal was to create an image with a similar look and feel. I borrowed my friend Nahleen, she has some similar features to Sophia Loren. Once she agreed we set out to capture an image and then process for that 1960’s film look. Here’s the original image we took.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

This is the original unedited photo.

It was shot outdoors on a cold and frosty December afternoon. Nahleen has some similar features to Sophia Loren but is by no means a carbon copy. Instead, I was more interested in attaining a photo in which the fur hood framed her face.

So now that we had captured the image, it was time to bring it into Luminar. I tried to make to make the conversion as simple and quick to complete as possible. I will admit that I tried several times with different settings, etc. until I found a look that I felt was similar to the Sophia Loren image.

The AI Filter was used to bring out some contrast in the image. The photo of Sophia Loren was quite sharp and also had a fairly contrasty look, so my first goal was to pull out the dark tones and brighten my lighter tones to match more closely.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

The Accent slider made adjustments quickly and easily.

The B&W Workspace

I then used the B&W Workspace to guide my editing of the photo. I adjusted several sliders. The intention was to increase the contrast and create some fairly strong blacks.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

The B&W Workspace comes equipped with a variety of filters all designed to help with black and white conversions.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here are the settings I used.

Adding Film Grain

My final step was to add film grain. At first, I cranked up the amount of film grain. In this screenshot, you can see how strongly I adjusted it. I always like to adjust a setting by purposely using too much. Then I back off the amount until I find a nice balance.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here you can see that I’ve adjusted the grain to a fairly heavy amount. For the final image, I backed off a bit.

The whole process was pretty quick. Once I found the right settings it didn’t take too long to recreate this retro look. The final photograph is dark and contrasty but also a little different from the original Sophia Loren shot.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

The final image is cropped in closer. My use of film grain is also heavier than in the original Sophia Loren shot.

Retro Look #2

In this second shot, I used a photo from a recent photo shoot in which I was working with a young lady to create a portfolio of modeling images. The 10-hour photo session was created using a very basic budget, but we made sure to utilize a retro outfit for this article.

The bell bottoms and the fur jacket were both found at the thrift store, as was the backdrop. We were working a tight space with limited materials.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here’s the original unedited file. It was shot in my living room. We used a very basic DIY type of set up.

Free Presets

For this shot, I decided to take advantage of Luminar’s free presets. There are lots of free presets available for download, and I was lucky enough to find a set of free analog-film looks.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here’s a look at all the free presets available on the Luminar website.

Quick Clicks and Some Cloning

The look of this image was very easy to create with just a few simple adjustments. I chose a cross-processing look and then tweaked it to my liking. The accompanying texture was applied pretty heavily. I found that it was overwhelming the image. So I chose to back off the strength of the texture.

I also cropped the image slightly and applied the Orton Effect filter. It quickly smoothed the model’s skin, and I didn’t need to go in and do any retouching on her face. This saved me quite a lot of time.

Finally, I took the image into Photoshop, where I cloned and added a layer to fill in the areas around the outside where you could see my living room in the original shot.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

The preset applied without any adjustments to the original settings.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

I started to make some minor adjustment to the original settings found in the preset which included adjusting the saturation in cross-processing.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here’s the split screen of the before and after views. I completed some cropping and clone stamping.

Plug in for Photoshop

Luminar also has the capability to clone and add layers, but I’ll be honest there’s a part of me that will forever remain loyal to Photoshop for completing these parts of the editing process. This is partly why I really like Luminar  – it works as a plug-in for Photoshop as well. I can move back and forth between the two programs pretty seamlessly.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here’s the final edited image.

Retro look #3

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

This is the original unedited file.

For this final shot, I decided to edit the image fully in Luminar. I started from scratch with a RAW file. The goal was to experiment with the full editing capabilities of Luminar. The intention was to create a sepia look image that felt like an older faded photograph.

To start, I opened the B&W Workspace. It contains all the tools I needed for this conversion. That means I didn’t have to search through the list of filters to find anything.

Next, I applied the orange filter, cropped the image and adjusted contrast. I also adjusted the black and white sliders and played around with the strength of this first filter. I did consider creating a color image with a faded look but decided to go with full black and white.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Here’s a look at the faded film style.

Split Toning

After making these adjustments, I started to experiment with the Split Toning sliders. I gave the image a more brownish tone. This step took some experimentation with saturation and various colors.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

These are the sliders and colors I experimented with during editing.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

After adding the split toning, it was time to add a vignette and film grain. Again I adjusted the grain so it was very heavy and then backed it off to a more suitable amount. The longest part of this whole process was finding a texture that I liked which I felt fit with the feel of the image I wanted to create. I tried several. Luminar comes with lots of free textures you can download. They all seemed to work quite nicely.

In the end, I chose a weathered-looking texture and used the brush tool to apply it to the image in varying amounts. I didn’t want a lot of heavy texture over her face. Here are the final results of my editing and experimentation. The image has a heavier texture application along with film grain and a stronger vignette. The B&W Workspace worked perfectly. It placed all the necessary tools right at my fingertips.

Experimenting with Different Textures

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

I tend to adjust the image quite strongly then slowly back off the effect until I find the treatment I like.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

I played around with several different textures to create the old damaged photograph type of look.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Overlay option number two.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Overlay option number three.

The Finished Image

The final image includes the texture you see in the image above, but I backed it off quite a bit. Here are the results of the experiment. The application of the texture was reduced down to about 14. I didn’t want the effect to be as heavy-handed as in the image above.

In this final finished image, you can see the texture is most obvious around the edges. It’s a subtle texture called tattered that was available in the free downloads section of the Luminar webpage.

How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar

Your turn

Luminar comes equipped with a full array of filters that can help you to create a retro look for your images in both black and white and color. Give it a try, they have a 14-day free trial.

Disclaimer: Macphun, soon to be Skylum, is a dPS advertising partner.

The post How to Create a Retro Look for Your Images with Luminar by Erin Fitzgibbon appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
8

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

When creating an HDR or High Dynamic Range photo, you typically need three or more images taken at different exposures (bracketed) to create one stunning image. But given the high dynamic range of today’s digital cameras, do you still need to shoot bracketed images to achieve the HDR look? In this article, I’ll show you how you can achieve HDR effects from a single image using Aurora HDR 2018.

Results will also be compared with an image made the “real” HDR way. Which is best? You be the judge.

What is HDR?

First off, let’s break down what HDR is exactly. As mentioned earlier, HDR combines a series of images, each taken with a different exposure. The result is a dramatic photo with brightened shadows and darkened highlights. Thus, shadows and highlights are the two main features that will play the biggest role in creating an HDR photo from a single image.

Using this insight, you could take a single shot and apply HDR effects by playing with just a few features that affect the overall dynamic range of your image. To start, here’s a single image of a landscape scene, shot in RAW.

Note: the images used in this article are courtesy of dPS editor Darlene Hildebrandt. 

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

1. Shoot in RAW

The very first thing you want to do with your single-image HDR image is to make sure it was taken in RAW format, not JPG. RAW files are larger in size than JPGs because they store much more image information.

This means that you can push lots of post-processing effects and even salvage parts of an image that would otherwise be unrecoverable. You could feasibly apply HDR effects to a JPG image, but the results won’t be as dramatic as they will be with a RAW file.

2. Adjust the Highlights and Shadows sliders

Since highlights and shadows tend to affect the overall brightness of an image, you’ll want to play with these sliders first. Pulling down the highlights can restore bright areas that appear washed out in an image while pulling up the shadows brighten up dark spots.

For example, the sample image above was opened in Aurora HDR 2018 and the highlights and shadows were pulled to their extremes, just for demonstration purposes. Check out the dramatic change that happens just by altering the highlights and shadows.

The sky now looks overly dramatic, and the foreground is really bright and practically free of shadows. Since HDR is largely done to taste, some might like this style as-is, while others might deem it too extreme. If you want a slightly less dramatic and more realistic photo, move the highlights and shadows sliders around to taste.

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

3. Adjust the Blacks and Whites sliders

To sharpen up your image and make it less flat, play around with the image blacks and whites. In general, adjusting whites is preferable to bumping up the exposure since the latter will affect highlights more than shadows and mid-tones.

If needed, you can even brighten your shadows more by using the Dodge tool and darken highlights with the Burn tool (built-into Aurora HDR). While dialing in the blacks of the image, be sure not to clip (lose detail) your shadows too much by going too far with the Black slider.

HINT: you want them to clip a little, otherwise there will be no black in the image and it will be flat.

4. Finish off with HDR Enhance and Smart Tone

Finally, top it off by adjusting two of Aurora HDR’s most unique and impactful features: HDR Enhance and Smart Tone.

The first feature, HDR Enhance, adds details, clarity, and color adjustment to an image without creating typical HDR problems such as a halo effect. Meanwhile, Smart Tone is a mapping algorithm that automatically brightens your image while also reducing noise.

These two features can be tweaked individually to achieve your HDR style of choice.

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

The Result

At this point, it’s worth noting that although Aurora HDR 2018 has many filters that you can apply to images, I didn’t use them all for demonstration purposes. Instead, I stuck to the main editing window on the right-hand panel (HDR Basic).

After tinkering around in Aurora HDR, these are my two resulting images. The first is a single shot with balanced exposure and HDR editing effects applied. Next is a regular 3-bracket HDR image. Which image do you prefer?

Aurora HDR single Image

Here is the original unedited RAW file for comparison.

single image Darlene

Single-Image HDR Effects

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

Full HDR from 3 bracketed exposures. Notice how much more tonal range is in this image than the one above.

Single Image HDR Photo – Example #2

This second example shows the single image HDR effect in an urban environment. Below is the starting RAW image before any post-processing was applied.

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

Original raw image.

The above image was opened in Aurora HDR and the Highlight and Shadow sliders were pulled to their extremes. Again, you don’t (and shouldn’t) keep the highlights and shadows sliders at their extremes, but this is just a visual demonstration of how dramatic of an effect they can have. It’s also a good idea to see how far you can go, then scale it back a bit in each direction.

Notice how the image has brightened up considerably and you can now see lots of detail in the buildings, especially the “Meet the Producer” sign.

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

Notice in the image above that there is a halo effect around much of the building. To fix that, simply adjust those highlight and shadow sliders to your liking. Also play around with the HDR Enhance slider, which will preserve image contrast and clarity without exacerbating the halo effect.

Next, the Whites and Smart Tone sliders were adjusted brighten the image further.

How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018

Below is the resulting single image with light Aurora HDR effects applied. For comparison, a 4-image bracketed HDR is also included below.

Aurora HDR single Image

Original again for comparison.

Aurora HDR single Image

HDR from a single image.

HDR from 4 bracketed images. The biggest difference here is a more seamless continuation of tones. You will get less haloing and less noise from this method than using a single image.

In Conclusion

There you have it – a quick tutorial on how you can create an HDR effect from a single image in Aurora HDR.

Have you experimented with making a single image look like an HDR shot? Please share your techniques and sample images in the comments below.

The post How to do Single Image HDR Effects with Aurora HDR 2018 by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
6

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Luminar’s powerful, customizable approach to image editing is wrapped in a cloak of simplicity which is great for photographers who tend to feel intimidated by the hundreds of buttons, menu options, and sliders available in other post-processing programs. The more you use it the more you will likely realize that there is far more to Luminar 2018 than a handful of presets and filters. You will probably stumble across some neat hidden features that can do a lot to improve your editing and workflow.

Here are 10 of my favorite features, in no particular order, that I found just by poking around and going about my usual business of editing photos with Luminar. Not all of these will change your life, but several might make you react like I did, by thinking “Hey now, that’s really useful!”

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

Luminar has a host of small but useful features up its sleeve to help novices and professionals alike.

#1 – Before/after preview slider

As a longtime user of Lightroom, the idea of having a before/after preview is nothing new. With one click you can see your image split in two, with one half as the original and the other half showing the edits. Luminar has this feature as well but it kicks things up one notch by allowing you to move the preview slider back and forth.

This lets you see your edits applied to any part of the image you want, and it updates instantaneously as you move the slider. It’s an incredibly useful feature that you might not notice at first, but once you do could seriously improve your editing.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#2 – Lasso tool for erasing

Sometimes you need the Spot Healing tool to remove unwanted blemishes and imperfections from an image, but sometimes that very same tool can drive you crazy due to its imprecise nature and circular application brush. When I first started using Luminar I was well aware of its healing tool that functioned much like similar tools in other applications, but I didn’t realize that it was also possible to use the same technology with a lasso-style implementation.

To erase oddly-shaped portions of an image select Tools>Erase, then select the lasso tool, and then click to outline the spot that you want to erase. When you are finished, click “done” and Luminar will eliminate it like it was never even there.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

I liked this image but was not happy with the orange banner in the background.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

The Lasso Erase tool let me select just the banner and then remove it from the photo with one click.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

The final image is much improved, and it took very little effort to do so.

#3 – Single View Mode

As you add filters to an image it can get a little cumbersome having to deal with an ever-expanding vertical list of image adjustments. Thankfully there is an easy way to tame your filters. Just click on the Filters label at the top of the list and choose Single View Mode.

This collapses all of your filters and allows you to work with just one at a time, dynamically collapsing it when you click on another one. This single tip has saved me countless headaches as I scroll up and down my filters workspace to find the one I need, and I don’t think I could ever go back to any other way of editing.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#4 – Edit multiple images at one time

This one requires a bit of legwork but it can really come in handy depending on your editing needs. If you want to work with multiple images at one time, each on its own layer and with its own set of filters, click the + button in the Layers panel and add a new Image Layer. This new layer is added on top of your existing layer and can be combined with another layer with tools like masking and by changing the opacity.

However, you can also work on both images side-by-side by using the Free Transform option in the Tools menu. First select one of the layers, then click Tools > Free Transform, and re-size the image so it’s on one side of your screen. Do the same for the other layer, and you now have a workspace that allows you to edit multiple images at the same time.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#5 – Crop to Facebook cover

If you have ever uploaded a picture to your Facebook page as a Cover Photo you may have been disappointed to see your painstakingly-edited picture re-cropped and re-sized so the final result is a shadow of what you intended.

Luminar’s crop tool has a way to mitigate this issue entirely by including a Crop to Facebook Cover option in the crop tool. This will ensure that your resulting image will be just the right dimensions to fit perfectly on top of your Facebook profile page without any annoying automated edits from Mark Zuckerberg and his company.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#6 – Click the histogram to show color channels

It’s no secret that Luminar has a histogram view, and in fact, it would be kind of surprising if any image editor worth its salt didn’t have this tool. But what’s a little different here is that you can click the histogram to show individual color channels one by one.

This might not be something you use every single day but can really come in handy if you want to see the exposure level of the reds, blues, and greens.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#7 – Apply user presets during batch processing

Luminar’s workflow generally revolves around the idea of applying filters. You can also instantly apply many filters at once using a preset. What I find more useful, though, is that you can combine different filters to make your own presets, such as one that I use quite often called “Clarignette” that applies a bit of clarity while also adding a vignette.

It’s a simple but effective preset that I tend to use on many images, and Luminar’s batch processing tool makes this even easier. When you load a series of images for batch processing you can apply any of Luminar’s existing presets in addition to any custom presets you create yourself. This can dramatically speed up your editing if you find yourself doing the same types of editing operations on many of your photos.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#8 – Drag-and-drop layer reordering

Luminar’s layer-based workflow functions much like Photoshop and other editing applications. While this particular tip might not be especially groundbreaking it is something I found to be very handy. You can, of course, rename layers by double-clicking on their name and use blend modes by right-clicking on them (or control-clicking on a Mac).

But one thing I didn’t realize at first was how easy it was to reorder the layers in Luminar 2018. A simple drag-and-drop can be used to adjust which layer comes first. Since your edits are applied in a top-down fashion this can have a big impact on your overall image.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#9 – Change editing background color with one click

As a longtime user of Lightroom I have developed a pretty consistent set of editing preferences, and I have found that a light gray background helps me focus on editing my images without straining my eyes too much. However, sometimes I want to change the background color.

Luminar handles this with one click, which makes it a lot easier and more practical. Simply right-click (or control-click on a Mac) anywhere in the background area of your editing workspace to change the color.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

#10 – One-Click Preset Updates

It’s not uncommon for me to create a preset and then change it over time as my editing evolves, but for a while I used a cumbersome process to do this. It involved clicking on a preset, changing its parameters, saving it as a new preset. Then I’d navigate to the Preset folder on my computer to delete the original preset and finally change the name of the revised preset.

It was a chore and often resulted in a Preset folder littered with old versions that I didn’t use anymore, but thankfully there is a much easier way to do this. Simply click the name of one of your Custom Presets in the tray at the bottom of the screen and choose “Update with current settings” and your preset will be updated without any other work on your part.

Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident

More to discover

While some of these tips might not be new to you at all, each was something I stumbled across by accident while using Luminar 2018. They served as a reminder to me of how I appreciate this program’s ability to surprise and delight.

I enjoy finding useful tips and tools by accident, and Luminar is full of these sorts of hidden, helpful features. What sorts of things have you come across while using Luminar? Do you have a favorite tip or trick to share? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclaimer: Macphun, soon to be Skylum, is a dPS advertising partner.

The post Top 10 Luminar 2018 Features That I Discovered by Accident by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
3

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

You might not know it, but even if you’ve never heard of tilt-shift photography you have probably seen a photograph that was captured in just such a way. A few years ago tilt-shift photos exploded into the mainstream with oddly miniaturized images of cities, cars, and even landscapes going completely viral seemingly overnight.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Tilt-shift photography, in itself, is nothing more than a literal optical illusion. Essentially, it is nothing more than adding a strip of sharp focus to an otherwise blurred image. Even the name itself refers not to the type of photograph but rather the camera or lens movements needed to achieve the effect.

Yes, tilt-shift photos have their roots in large format photography but don’t worry, I’ll only touch on that as much as needed to in order to get the point across. What I will focus on (get it?) is showing you how the tilt-shift photo effect can be very closely and easily simulated using Photoshop. Oh, and don’t think that in-camera tilt-shift photos can only be made with large format cameras. There are quite a few tilt-shift lenses available for your SLRs and DSLRs.

What is Tilt-Shift?

The best way to understand the concept behind tilt-shift photography work is to understand what “tilt” and “shift” actually mean as they relate to photography. As I mentioned earlier, they refer to the movements of a large format camera.

The tilt aspect refers to the physical tilting, either forward or backward, of the front or rear part of the camera. This tilt impacts the focus plane.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Front and rear tilts demonstrated with a large format camera.

Without going too far into large format camera movements, tilting the front and/or rear of the camera allows for very selective depth of field control.

The “shift” is less important for our purposes today, but since I like being thorough, shifting the front or back of the camera simply means it is moved from side-to-side (or up and down) and literally shifts the image from left to right or up and down.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Right and left shift movements on a large format camera.

The tilt effect is what you’re about to learn how to simulate in Photoshop right now.

How to use the Tilt-Shift Filter in Photoshop

To begin, first, select an image that is conducive to the tilt-shift effect. Photos which have a relatively isolated subject with large areas of foreground and background usually work best. Make most if not all of your basic edits before you start your tilt-shift, including sharpening. Here is my image after I’ve made some core adjustments.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Open the image in Photoshop

I like to start off in Lightroom and then pitch the image over to Photoshop as a Smart Object to apply the tilt-shift effect. I’ll show you why in just a bit.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Now that you have the image opened in the loving hands of Photoshop the fun can begin! Yes, I think this is fun….

Duplicate the Layer

The first step in applying the tilt-shift effect is to duplicate the base image layer. Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+J. It’s this duplicate layer to which you’ll apply the tilt-shift blur.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Applying the Blur

Tilt-shift is essentially a blurring effect, so it makes sense that it is located along with the other blur filters in Photoshop. Click on Filters > Blur Gallery >Tilt-Shift.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

This brings you into the tilt-shift blur module of Photoshop. You’ll notice that you can also add other forms of blur here, but ignore all that as we are just going to work with tilt-shift.

When the module opens you will see a masking tool already on top of your image. It resembles a dual graduated filter tool. In fact, it works very similarly to the graduated filter. The effect will feather out to the top and bottom from the central axis dot in the center of the filter. The solid lines control the border of the effect with the dotted lines determining the feathering. Here’s a breakdown.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

The tilt-shift filter overlay.

The intensity of the blur is controlled by the Blur slider or by adjusting the intensity dial. Keep in mind that the entire filter can be moved either simultaneously or the top and bottom portions can be moved and adjusted separately. This happens to be the final position of my tilt-shift filter.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Click Ok and allow Photoshop to render the blur.

A few tips for you

While we’re waiting…this is a good time to go over a couple of things that will help make your tilt-shift more effective.

Always remember that, if you’re going for realism, an accurate tilt-shift simulation should adhere as closely as possible to the optical principles of photography. This means that since tilt-shift controls the depth of focus, your effect should also follow those rules. Be careful you don’t have significant irregularities at the borders of the blurred areas. Also, pay special attention to the elements within your photo and their spatial relationship to one another to avoid an overly artificial appearance.

Keep in mind that there are quite a few other sliders to be seen here in the tilt-shift module; namely those for distortion, bokeh, and light range. (Of course if you’re feeling adventurous then, by all means, try out those sliders but I generally leave them as is for virtually all of my work.) Distortion can be added to varying degrees to the blurred areas as well as bokeh enhancement/coloration. The light range slider allows control over blur based on specific luminance values. However, in most cases, the default settings for these sliders will be just perfect for your image.

After your tilt-shift effect is complete the image will automatically reopen in the main Photoshop window with your edits applied.

Tweaking the Effect

Just because you have to loosely adhere to some rules of optics doesn’t mean you are totally bound by them. I actually attempt to never use the word “rules” when it comes to photography. If you find you need to adjust the tilt-shift effect just remember that this is Photoshop after all and you, the intrepid post-processor, wield great power!

Remember how you imported your image as a Smart Object earlier? Well, this is where having your image available as a Smart object really comes in handy.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

You’ll notice the tilt-shift has already been scooped into its very own layer mask. So now, you are free to paint the blur effect in or out until it is just right. This allows you to go beyond the constraints of filters in the tilt-shift module. With this image, I used a little judicious painting on the Smart Filter layer mask to make the effect look a little more natural.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

Finish in Lightroom

After I’m completely finished with the tilt-shift I kick the image back over to Lightroom. I add in one last edit to help harmonize the tilt-shift and that is a graduated filter at the bottom of the frame to darken it ever so slightly.

How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop

And that’s it! You should now have a genuine imitation tilt-shift image. Have a look at the before and after.

Before

After

Final Thoughts on the Tilt-Shift Filter…

Tilt-shift photography in Photoshop is easy and can add some amazing effects to your photos. As with most post-processing effects, it’s important to keep things within the realm of reality unless your goal is to deliberately skew things.

The effects achieved in Photoshop aren’t perfect, of course, but you can get very close to the look and feel of real tilt-shift photography. All this without needing to use a real tilt-shift lens or moving into large format photography. Experiment with the tilt-shift blur in Photoshop and keep these important tips in mind:

  • Remember tilt-shift is just a manipulation of depth of focus.
  • Try not to break the rules…I mean, the guidelines of optics.
  • Pick images that have larger areas of foreground and backgrounds with isolated subjects.
  • Don’t forget to tweak the tilt-shift effect or even add additional edits.

Try out the lessons in this article and stretch your creative legs with tilt-shift blur in Photoshop. And as always remember to have fun with your editing and please share your results and any questions you have in the comments area below.

The post How to Easily Simulate a Tilt-Shift Effect Using Photoshop by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
1

How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Do you want to make a photo-card for your loved one? Or maybe a flyer for your business? Or add some personalized notes to your photos that turn your album into a scrapbook? If you ever tried to add text on your photos and ended up just covering up the image, this article is for you.

How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Although Photoshop is not a software specially-made for design, it does have some design functions, one of which is the text tool. You don’t need to learn any extra software to integrate text into your photos, you’ll learn how to use layers and masks in Photoshop to overlap the text and the image so that they interact which results in integrated and elegant images.

Since Valentine’s Day is so close, I’ll give you some easy-to-do examples to make a card for your loved one. However, you can apply the same steps to any image to add text for any other purpose.

Overlapping

In this first technique, you won’t apply any effects to the text itself, therefore the result is a clean and simple design.

First open an image of your choosing in Photoshop, one that goes well with the message you want to convey. You can later move the text to make some final arrangements, however, you do need to start with an idea for the text placement. This is because you need to select the part of the subject that you want to overlap with the text. I used the Quick Selection tool, but you can use whichever is best for you.

Selection - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Then duplicate the layer by dragging it to the new layer icon at the bottom, or by going to Menu > Layer > Duplicate Layer (you can also use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+J). Then you will need to add a mask to the new layer by clicking on the layer mask button from the bottom of the Layers palette.

Whatever was selected is now the only thing visible from that layer. You can also refine the edges of this selection if you right-click the layer and select Refine Edge.

Layer mask - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Add your text

Then, select the Text Tool and write your message. You can choose the font, size and color from the menu as you would in any word processor like Microsoft Word. Now your text is blocking your image but all you need to do to create the overlapping is to drag the text layer in between the background and the selected layers.

Text tool - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

You can move or transform the text to make it fit better as well. Finally, if you want to have a part of the text appear to be behind the image and part in front, to make it more integrated, you can paint on the layer mask with a black brush (black conceals – white reveals) to hide the parts “behind”.

I love you - How to Use Layers and Masks to Add Text to Your Photos

Picture in Picture

Another way to integrate text and image is to use the same background photo as a pattern for the letters and just change the blend to give it a personalized effect.

Open an image of your choosing in Photoshop. Then using the Text tool, write your message in a font that is wide enough to show the image inside, in this case, I used Braggadocio.

Text Love - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Add the photo

Now go to Menu > File > Place and choose the same photo that you are using in the background. Adjust its size to fit the text.

Place - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Go back to the Layers palette and right-click the text layer. In the drop-down menu choose “Make a work path”. Then from the Path palette, right-click the work path and click on “make selection”. This will create a selection around the letters, but it will keep the path to make the selection later in other layers where you are going to need it.

Path Selection - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Then go back to the Layers palette and select the layer with the second image (the one you placed and added a layer mask to); this will have the shape of the letters.

If you want to rearrange the image inside the letters you can make the original text invisible by clicking on the eye icon on the left side of the layer name, and then unlink the mask by clicking the chain in between the thumbnails. That way you can just drag the photo until you are satisfied with how it looks (see below).

Unlink - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

Once the image is placed the way you want it, you can apply any effect that you like. In this case, I added an adjustment layer with a Gradient map, this can be done by going to Menu > Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map; or by clicking the shortcut button at the bottom of the palette. From there I chose a greyscale gradient.

Finishing up

Finally, I changed the blending mode of the layer to Multiply. You can do this or choose any other blending mode from the drop-down menu on the top part of the layer palette. Then I activated the original text layer (which was white if you remember) and I moved it a little bit so that it would show underneath and it gave it a border to separate it.

Love - How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos

The post How to Use Layers and Masks in Photoshop to Add Text to Your Photos by Ana Mireles appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jan
30

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

Aurora HDR 2018 has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, and one of those is versatility. It’s not a one-trick pony when it comes to creating your HDR look. The range of different tools really allows you to create a huge variety of looks really easily. Part of that is knowing what your available tools do. The other part is just playing around and exploring your own creative side!

In this article, you’ll see five different looks in HDR and how you can recreate them – but on top of that, you’ll also get them in preset form to use yourself. You’ll also get to see some of the new Lens and Transform options inside Aurora HDR 2018.

Plug it in

Aurora HDR 2018 doesn’t have a way to manage files, but can easily be used from other applications including Lightroom. In fact, you’ll even be able to process the files using Aurora’s built-in HDR processor, so you’re not trying to combine three already rendered files. To run Aurora HDR 2018 from inside Lightroom, you’ll need to run the standalone version first. From the Edit menu on PC or the Aurora HDR Menu on Mac, choose the Install Plugins.. menu item.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

From the dialog that appears, choose the host applications that you want to use.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Back in Lightroom, once you’ve selected the bracketed exposures you want to edit, go to the File menu and from the Plug-In Extras menu, choose Transfer to Aurora HDR 2018.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Getting Started in Aurora

Aurora HDR 2018 will load up with your selected bracketed sequence. I’ve chosen these photos specifically because they have lens distortion and a crooked horizon, which you’ll see how to correct shortly.

Once the files have loaded, you can set about working with alignment and ghosting settings. You’ll see the sequence and the bracketing interval in the photos. To align the photos if you’re not on a tripod, click Alignment. To access the other settings, click the cog you see on the bottom left (see below).

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

If you’ve got photos with moving objects in them, such as waves, trees in the wind or moving people, turn Ghost Reduction on. Choose your preferred reference image, and how strong you want the reduction to be. Color Denoise helps remove noise but increases the time your HDR takes to render. Finally, turn on Chromatic Aberration Removal to automatically get rid of color fringing on your photo.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Lens and Perspective Corrections

In the Filters header, you’ll see two icons. The first is for Perspective corrections or Transform (including rotation) and the second for Lens corrections.

The little odd looking shape is for Perspective and the round one is Lens Corrections.

You can fix rotation here (or using Crop as well) by clicking the Perspective icon. Rotation of 24 and Scale of 50 correct this image nicely.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Transform sliders correcting perspective.

Your penultimate step before going to the individual HDR looks is to fix the bow in the horizon caused by the wide-angle lens. A setting of 18 looks good for this photo. It also reveals that 24 was too much in the previous step, which you can always fix by going back to Perspective correction. 19 looked better zoomed in.

Lens Correction fixing distortion caused by wide lenses.

As the photo is a little underexposed, boosting the Exposure before going to create your looks is probably a good idea. While you may need to change this for each look, an additional stop is a good start here.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

#1 Photo-Realistic

For your first look, something photo-realistic is the best approach. You’re not trying to get anything gritty, or super desaturated, or over saturated here. We’ll get to that later.

For this look, use HDR Basic, Color, and HDR Denoise. In HDR Basic, smooth out the dynamic range by reducing Highlights and increasing Shadows. Smart Tone of 44 also helps it along. HDR Enhance (formerly Clarity) brings up some nice detail, 50 is looking well here. Your aim is to get the best looking photo you can before tweaking the look – this will be true of all looks.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

The color is a little flat so in the Color panel, you can boost both Saturation and Vibrance to +20. Color contrast, which controls the contrast between the primary and secondary colors looks good around 20 as well. You’re not aiming for extremes here, just to get a good looking photo.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

You’ve probably noticed the noise in the clouds at this point. This is where HDR Noise comes in. Setting this to around 25 softens up the noise.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

And that makes your first look, a photorealistic HDR photo.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

#2 Gritty HDR

With the basic look out of the way, it’s time for the more surrealistic to take over.

Start by using the History Panel to reset everything to your original starting point AFTER increasing the Exposure +1 and applying your Perspective and Lens Corrections. The History Panel records every action you take in Aurora HDR in chronological order, so simply select the last action after the ones you’d like to save, then begin the next edits. The History Panel will begin recording any edits from there leading to your Gritty HDR look!

Now it’s pretty flat and bleak, so you’re going to take it even further in that direction.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Set your HDR Enhance to +100 to get the bleak and gritty ball rolling. Smart Tone of -50 darkens the photo as well, and a hint of Vibrance (+15) gives color to the sky, while leaving the rest of the photo muted.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

To complete your gritty look, go to the HDR Structure panel. In the top section, set Amount to 25 to begin to increase detail in the photo. Increasing Softness (+80) makes the detail more realistic, while Boost accentuates it (+75). The latter two sliders might seem at odds, but a quick play shows they complement each other rather than compete.

HDR Microstructure boosts micro contrast, while Softness makes it more realistic. By increasing Amount to 71 and Softness to 28, you’ll get even more detail. You may even like the noise that this processing adds to the photo. I think it’s a big part of the look.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018 - gritty HDR look

And now you have your classic gritty HDR look!

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

#3 Warm Ethereal

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a soft and ethereal look. There are two different variations you can have on this, and they depend on using Image Radiance or Glow (and combinations of each). So with a reset to your basic corrected photo, let’s begin again!

A good beginning would be for a warmer look, so set your Temperature in HDR Basic to 10. While Image Radiance does have a Warmth slider, Temperature is much more effective. This look is all about Image Radiance. Set your Amount to 75 to really give the image a glow. Smoothness affects the softness of the image, and in this case, you’ll probably agree, it’s a little too soft, so set it to -50.

Overall at this point, the photo is too bright, so a reduction in Brightness to -76 helps. Darkening Shadows also helps. Finally, for Image Radiance, an addition of +61 Vividness to boost the saturation, while Warmth just adds another hint of yellow tones in a more controllable way than with Temperature.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

There’s a lot of warmth in the photo (in a good way), but you may want to add a little contrast of color into it. By using the Polarizing Filter, you can add more blue to sky, emulating a real circular polarizer.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

The final thing for this look is for you to introduce a little global detail using HDR Detail Boost. As you can guess Small affects the fine detail, Large affects the global contours of the photo, while Medium controls the details between Small and Large.

To sharpen the global edges, you can push Large. This firms up the edges while retaining the softness that Image Radiance has created. Protection protects fine detail while Masking controls where the effect is applied with 30-70 being optimal.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

So that’s your first ethereal look.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Warm Ethereal

#4 Soft Glow

Your second ethereal look uses Glow. Reset your photo again to the settings at the start of the looks. Because Glow works on the Highlights, it’s probably a good idea to reduce your Exposure down to 0.60. Now, go to Glow and set the Amount to 50. A fog settles over the photo. This would work better on a dark evening scene that a sunny day, but you get what it does.

Now that you know what Glow looks like, it’s time to get a little wacky. Start by setting your Smart Tone to -100, and HDR Enhance to 56. This reduces some of the Glow, so set that Amount to 94. You probably want to go a bit wilder with Color, so set Saturation at 50 and Vibrance much higher, at 70. A hint of Color Contrast gives even more of a boost at 30.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

For the final part of this look, add +30 Amount from Image Radiance to enhance the glow.

And that’s look #4.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Soft Glow

#5 Nitty Gritty Black & White

And now for something completely different – a nice gritty Black & White. Again, begin with a reset. Now, in Color, turn the Saturation down to -100.

Before going for grit, you’ll need to get contrast right. A few tweaks will get it to a workable point. It’s not set in stone at this point though.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

And now you get to go for grit! You can use all the tools from previous looks that gave more detail, so HDR Enhance, HDR Structure, and HDR Details Boost apply. Go wild. This is definitely one for your own taste. The settings used here were HDR Enhance 40, HDR Structure Amount 40, Softness 20 and Boost 50. HDR Microstructure is Amount 47 and Softness 50. HDR Details Boost has Small 31 and Large 50.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Here’s the final look.

How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018

Nitty Gritty Black & White

Presets

And here are the five presets for you to use:  HDR-5-Looks-Presets. Download the file and unzip it, then save it on your hard drive.

To install the Presets, open the standalone version of Aurora HDR 2018. From the File menu select Show Presets Folder. Drag the new presets folder (you must unzip it first) into that one. Restart the program to have the presets show up in Aurora HDR 2018 (look under User Presets).

Go out there and have a bit of fun with your HDR images, and post your results in the comments below.

Disclaimer: Macphun, soon to be Skylum, is a dPS advertising partner.

The post How to Make 5 Different Looks using Aurora HDR 2018 by Sean McCormack appeared first on Digital Photography School.