A STUDY IN COLOR & TONE

Re-working Color and Tone in Photoshop for Enhanced Impact

Our last trip to Venice for Carnival included a half day on the island town of Burano, easily one of the most colorful towns on earth! Before I dive into my tutorial on color and tone enhancement, take a look at this small sampling of images from the trip—all captured with my trusty Fuji X-T1 mirrorless.

Photoshop_Tips

There is a classic view of the tilted church that I have been drawn to since my first visit in 2015. This year I captured the following image from one of the little bridges that cross the many little canals that run through the town.

Looking down the canal at the tilted church tower—there are no parallel lines in this image!

Looking down the canal at the tilted church tower—there are no parallel lines in this image!

There is a kind of fun-house mirror quality in the image, where there are no perpendicular lines—everything is tilted at a diagonal !  The boats in the canal create a strong leading line that takes your eye right to the tilted tower with its mirror reflection. This original image has already been adjusted in Lightroom to open up the shadows, with the shadow slider all the way to +100! I want to brighten up the boats and add a bit more saturation to the colors in the most natural way I can without introducing artifacts or obvious selection edges. My first strategy is to examine the individual RGB channels to see if I can use the channel luminosity to my advantage!

The red channel has a lot of contrast and a much darker sky and water.

The red channel has a lot of contrast and a much darker sky and water.

The blue channel has much brighter water and sky, but also brighter boats

The blue channel has much brighter water and sky, but also brighter boats

The green channel is between the two extremes, no surprise because the green channel holds 60% of the overall luminosity of the image.

The green channel is between the two extremes, no surprise because the green channel holds 60% of the overall luminosity of the image.

I decide the blue channel is going to help me lighten the boats, so I use Apply Image to put a copy of the blue channel into a layer above the background, and change the layer blend mode to Luminosity. Since I don’t want to brighten all the blue in the image, I make a black layer mask and then soft-edge brush in with white in the area of the boats!

Here the blue channel luminosity is applied to the image through a soft edged mask to lighten the boats.

Here the blue channel luminosity is applied to the image through a soft edged mask to lighten the boats.

Next, I use the red channel to darken the sky through a gradient mask… The advantage here is I don’t have to mask off the tower to get the gradient effect into the sky without darkening the tower as well. In fact, the red channel luminosity brightens up the tower a little!

The red channel luminosity is applied to the top edge to darken the sky and lighten the tower.

The red channel luminosity is applied to the top edge to darken the sky and lighten the tower.

Now its time to beef up the color, and so I duplicate the image and convert the copy into Lab…

Lab is ideal for increasing color saturation without introducing artifacts.

Lab is ideal for increasing color saturation without introducing artifacts.

The final image has the color from the Lab copy applied in a layer in color mode with a copy of the inverted “b” channel applied in a layer in Soft Light mode. This was used to brighten the 3rd boat from the front and put a little halo of brightness around the tower in the reflection in the water.

Online_Learning_Photography

The final image is the result of a few layers blended through Luminosity, Color & Soft Light.

Here is the layer stack…

The top layer applies a darkening gradient to the bottom to “contain” the edge a bit.

The top layer applies a darkening gradient to the bottom to “contain” the edge a bit.

Compare the original to the version edited in Photoshop.

Photoshop_Free_Tips

While this kind of enhancement can be simulated in Lightroom with the adjustment brush, and gradient tool, the result is subtly different, and not quite as natural looking.

– BPSOP Instructor: Lee Varis

Lee Teaches:

Photoshop Layers Fundamentals: Selections, Masks and Adjustments 

Portrait Retouching Fundamentals in Photoshop

What are the great moments of your life?​

“We are conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware–beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.” – Joe Loftus

Life is not all about accomplishing big things or ticking off boxes on your to-do list. Life is in the details. It is about enjoying the little things, like the sound of laughter, birds chirping, and cats purring.

Get ready to slow down and have fun creating photos that you can’t wait to share with your friends and family in “Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images”, taught by award-winning photographer Brit Hammer.

brit_hammer_05

“[This class] opened my eyes not only to the beauty of my everyday life outside my home, but inside as well. I learned to get much closer and to use different angles when I photograph the beautiful things I see going on in my life. I recommend this class to anyone who wants to create images that evoke feelings and that tell a story. For without that, many images go flat.” — Lynne Daley.

This course focuses on the creative side of photography and is perfect for both beginners and advanced photographers. Best of all, you can use any camera: your phone, point & shoot, or your DSLR / mirrorless camera with any lens. Brit will gently nudge, poke and prod you to open up your eyes to see the potential shots waiting just for you. You’ll also learn her secrets of getting her shots 100% in-camera and with no post-processing. You won’t just develop an eye for taking good pictures, you’ll learn how to put your heart and soul into your photography.

Learn_Photography

“This class is my all time favorite. I had fun learning and taking photos of my everyday life. I appreciate Brit working and encouraging me —  I know that grew me a lot as a photographer, and it was great for me to see my own work improving each week. Thank you very much for that.” — Margaret Finelt

BPSOP_Online_school_photography

There is tremendous freedom in this inspiring and eye-opening course. Use any camera, including your phone. And if your kids are ready to learn how to shoot, sign them up to take the class with you! Both beginners and advanced photographers are welcome to join this class.

Celebrate those small moments. And create more of them. Stretch them out by being present in the moment as they happen.

brit_hammer_03

brit_hammer_01

online_photo_school

“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.” — Maya Angelou

 

– BPSOP Instructor: Brit Hammer

 

Sports Photography: Decisions, Decisions…

An emphasis of this sports photography course will be recognition of the many decisions that must be made for each event photographed, and the implications, good and bad, of each of these decisions. Gymnastics is one of my favorite sports to photograph (for reasons that will become more clear within my course). When I photograph floor exercises, my favorite lens is my oldest lens—a Canon 200mm f/1.8. The very wide aperture provides a great deal of flexibility with my settings (the wider my aperture, the lower my ISO and/or higher my shutter speed), but it’s the stunning quality of the photos that drives my preference. Two ‘risks’ come along with this great potential. First, shooting at f/2 provides a relatively narrow depth of field. This can make for wonderful separation of subject from background, but only if focus is spot-on. Second, the 200mm fixed focal range makes for relatively tight framing of my subject and an increased likelihood of cutting off body parts I don’t want to cut off. Here are two images with a Canon 1DX camera body and 200 f/1.8 lens. They represent the good and the bad.

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 4.59.41 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 4.59.49 PM

 

– BPSOP Instuctor: Russ Isabella

Russ Teaches: Sports Photography

Supermoon Over Mt. Whitney

The supermoon phenomenon occurs whatever the moon is simultaneously full and at its perigee, or its closest point to earth, during its monthly orbit. The supermoon in May, 2012, was one such case. I suspected it might be possible to create an image of it setting over Mt. Whitney, thus combining the largest full moon of the year with the tallest mountain in the continental United States. Here’s how this image became a reality.

The first step was to choose a shooting location based on the compass direction of the setting moon. Now in this image, I wanted the moon to clearly stand out as a dominant theme above the mountain. This required the use of a very long focal length lens, otherwise, while the moon would be visible within the composition, its size, and hence “supermoon” qualities would be diminished.

The precise shooting location was found by using the planning app The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It was simply determined to be the point of intersection between a conveniently located dirt road and Mount Whitney along a line with the correct moonset compass direction of 242°. The exact GPS coordinates of this point were noted for field navigation, since there was no cell coverage in the area.

Night_Photography_Supermoon

The next step was to estimate candidate exposure settings based on the anticipated light levels of the predawn twilight. Noting that sea-level moonset occurred an hour and fifteen minutes after sunrise on the best viewing day, the low ISO of 200 was chosen as a starting point.

To determine the aperture, I needed to consider the specific details of the lens system I was using. To make this image, the camera was fitted with a 1.7X teleconverter attached to a 4” telescope with a 400 mm focal length. This combination resulted in an effective focal length of 680 mm. Noting that the entrance diameter of the telescope was 4” ~ 100 mm, the aperture was calculated to be 680mm / 100 mm = f/6.8. This aperture was deemed perfectly suitable, since depth of field is not a consideration for such a large subject distance.

Based on experience, a shutter speed of 1/500 second was anticipated to produce a correct exposure for a predawn twilight scene, an ISO of 200, and an aperture of f/6.8. This should be satisfactory, since the moon shouldn’t move perceptibly in this short time interval.

Having identified its exact GPS coordinates, and preliminary exposure settings, the next step was simply to drive to the shooting location, confirm its location with my hand-held GPS device, set up the equipment and await moonset. Needless to say, my pulse was racing as I watched in awe as the enormous supermoon slowly descended in the west as sunrise approached, and quietly slipped precisely behind majestic Mt. Whitney!

Want to learn how you can make images like this one, as well as breathtaking Milky Way images, dazzling star trails and more? Come join us in our brand new Nightscape Photography class!

– BPSOP Instructor: Mike Shaw

Mike Teaches:

Star Trails and Night Photography

Translate »