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Photoshop Polishing: Yellow House
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May 26, 2006, 19:27 #1
matthew Shuttertalker *****
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SPOILER ALERT! I've already run this image through photoshop, so this message contains the full before-and-after with all of my steps detailed. I'd love to see what other people can do with it, so if you'd like to photoshop it as well, DO NOT scroll below the first image. The first image in this message is the straight-from-camera file, cropped to match the finished image.


I spent some time today looking through my archives, seeking out the images that I would have printed way back when. Here's one of my favourites, revisited eight months and ten days after I took it.

The first image is the straight-from-camera jpeg, a 1024x768 capture. I've cropped it to match the printed version, but otherwise made no changes. It was taken at -0.5EV to protect the highlights on the door frame, at f9.5, iso100, handheld at 1/250 at a 56mm-e focal length.



[Image: yellowhouse-original-5071.jpg]



The second image is a resized version of the printed file, which was not resharpened (d`ope!) for web use. Incidentally, both images were saved at 50% compression, the first creating a 57KB file, the second increasing to 82KB.



[Image: yellowhouse-8x10-5071.jpg]


So here's what changed....

The print file was converted from my E-1's full-sized 5MP RAW capture using the free 'Olympus Viewer' software. WB was changed from "auto" to "cloudy" for the extra warmth, and the saturation was increased from "3" to "4", the maximum. A compensating +0.5EV adjustment was applied (I didn't need it in the first place) and it was exported to Photoshop 7 as a maximum-quality JPEG.

A duplicate layer took care of the cleanup duties; the diagonal paths were removed, as were some of the more prominent dandelions. Next, I selected the sky (magic wand, low threshold and lots of clicking) and reduced its brightness and increased its contrast by 30% with an adjustment layer. A Curves layer added contrast, darkening the grass and really bringing out the yellow, but brightened the sky to a distinct shade of cyan. A graduated fill mask took care of the sky, and some pen-and-tablet work removed the mask from the house.

Dodging and burning makes a subtle but powerful difference, and that was my next step. A new layer, set to "overlay" and filled with 50% grey is my favourite way to do this. With a graduated fill set to 15% opacity black, I darkened about half of the foreground grass and the very top of the sky. I then selected the middle ground, from the grass that wasn't darkened up to the top of the fence, and switched the marquee tool to exclude the house from the selection. I was able to do a white graduated fill that gradually brightened the grass toward the house, and reached its full 10% intensity to brighten the fence. More brushwork lightened the tree. It may seem finicky to fuss around with 10-15% differences, but it completely changes the lighting. In this case, I think it adds tremendous depth and really makes the house "pop".

A quick Levels adjustment layer showed that my brightest point was at 250, which was easily fixed.

Finally, sharpening. I rarely use the "Unsharp Mask" tool. Instead, a duplicate layer took a "High Pass" filter, with an output set for 1 pixel. (For web images, I use 0.3-0.5.) A "Soft Light" blend mode produces a nice brightening on the highlights, but wasn't quite enough, so I simply duplicated the high-pass layer. If this is too much, the effect can be reduced by lowering the opacity, or altered by selecting another layer blend mode.

And that's the whole process. I used eight layers, it took about an hour to do, and the end product is a print that will last 20+ years; one I would happily sell. Thank you, Epson and Olympus.

Now I need to go buy another frame.


May 26, 2006, 20:04 #2
Toad Posting Freak *****
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There is something refreshing about a pure 2D take on a scene like this. The temptation is to add depth but this is not always the ticket. This one reminds me of one of mine that I did sell framed - so your gut instinct is good.

[Image: 9_Water Street.jpg]

Well done!

Best
T

May 26, 2006, 21:09 #3
Keith Alan Moderator *****
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Your edit looks great, Matthew.
I don't have the patience for such extensive subtleties.
But next time I open Photoshop I'll try to remember to take a shot at it.

May 26, 2006, 21:51 #4
Russt Posting Freak *****
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Matt, I think you have done a great job and I doubt "very much" I could improve what you've done. I can understand this shot being a fav, I really like it as well!! Smile

I agree with Toad..... the 2D look works.

Toad, like yours too!!

May 27, 2006, 17:37 #5
wulinka Posting Freak *****
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your edit is great.

the only thing I slightly regret is that you didn't keep the paths. personally, I thought they were nice, leading up to the house. but then on the original, they were kind of just there but not quite, so maybe it was easier to get rid of them than trying to make them look nice.

anyway, maybe you just didn't like them. the end result looks great, and no one but me will miss paths leading to the house Smile

uli

May 27, 2006, 18:19 #6
matthew Shuttertalker *****
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Toad, thanks. I like the shapes of your photo, and the colours are great. The humour of the sign is a nice touch.

K, try the dodging & burning technique some time. [layers > new, mode > overlay, check the box that says "fill with overlay neutral 50% grey".] Paint with very low opacities, 10-20%, in white to lighten and black to darken. It makes a profound difference. I do this step for less than 5% of the photos that I post, but the good ones almost all have it done. Now, noise reduction is something I don't take the time for. Tongue

Russt, thanks, but I'm still very new to photoshop and I only know how to do a couple of tricks. There are always better ways.

Uli, I was originally thinking of keeping the paths, and have a variant where they're more prominent. In the end, though, I decided that the diagonals didn't help. If you're interested, here's a photo taken by the person who was standing next to me. Among other differences, she used a higher camera angle. http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=...et-1119773 (She was shooting film, so it should probably be compared to my "before" image.)


May 27, 2006, 21:01 #7
smarti77 Senior Member ****
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Matthew - Thank you for sharing your methods. I really like the level of contrast and saturation in the house on your final image. This is a great example of an image the grabs your attention.

I tried to copy some of your methods using the original shot. I made some progress but gave up in the end and went for a different approach...

[Image: 46_yellowhouse1.jpg]

Jun 6, 2006, 09:14 #8
Pops Junior Member **
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Hi smarti77 ... I'm the new boy around here but I love the simplicity of your image.
My attempt at improving ......also took the liberty of straightening it up a bit


[Image: yellowhouse-original-adjusted.jpg]

Jun 6, 2006, 19:11 #9
matthew Shuttertalker *****
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Hi Pops, I know you've been around a bit, but I haven't said "welcome" yet, so, welcome to shuttertalk!

I don't know if it's an effect, or if the jpeg compression is really high, but the sky has a touch of pixilation in it. A fairly firm touch. The grass looks good, though.

What did you use for the straightening? The fence has had some significant clockwise rotation, but the verticals on the building still look good. I may be wrong... it's past my bedtime. (I say that the camera is perfectly level and square, and that it's the building and fence that are sagging.)

Jun 7, 2006, 10:00 #10
Pops Junior Member **
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matthew Wrote:Hi Pops, I know you've been around a bit, but I haven't said "welcome" yet, so, welcome to shuttertalk!

I don't know if it's an effect, or if the jpeg compression is really high, but the sky has a touch of pixilation in it. A fairly firm touch. The grass looks good, though.

What did you use for the straightening? The fence has had some significant clockwise rotation, but the verticals on the building still look good. I may be wrong... it's past my bedtime. (I say that the camera is perfectly level and square, and that it's the building and fence that are sagging.)
Hi mathew,
Only just noticed the pixilation in the sky ... looks nasty now it has been pointed out. I'll take more care over that in future.
I use PSPX (having come through versions 6, 7, & 9) and there is a tool called strangely enough 'straightening tool' Smile. It consistes of a straight line, with a node at either end, which can be moved to rest along any straight edge. In this case I assumed the house to be level and used the lower window ledges for guidance. Setting one node on the right window ledge it is just a case of lifting or lowering the other end until the line is running evenly along the ledges. One click and it straightens.
Very effective and very easy to use.

Jun 7, 2006, 18:55 #11
Pat Senior Member ****
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I prefer Mathew's interpretation, simple perfection.


Jun 11, 2006, 19:42 #12
wulinka Posting Freak *****
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I agree with Pat, liked Matthews edit the best so far.

Welcome on Shuttertalk though, Pops!

uli

Jul 23, 2006, 07:04 #13
bythelake Junior Member **
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I doubt if this is much of an improvement over your mix, and is probably just adjusting a fine photo to my monitor and own personal taste. I selected grass, sky and yellow in seperate passes tweeked the levels and shadow/highlight of ea. and straightened it a tad. I'll be curious as to how it transmits back

Jul 23, 2006, 07:10 #14
bythelake Junior Member **
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I doubt if this is much of an improvement over your mix, and is probably just adjusting a fine photo to my monitor and own personal taste. I selected grass, sky and yellow in seperate passes tweeked the levels and shadow/highlight of ea. and straightened it a tad. I'll be curious as to how it transmits back

Jul 23, 2006, 11:11 #15
Don Schaeffer Posting Freak *****
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This is a great style. There must be several ways to achieve that look.






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