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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photoshop Tips From The Pros

Some of the best in nature photography share 11 techniques that will turn a good photograph into an award-winner

Labels: Blooms

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There are many elements that separate the top nature photographers from hobbyists. With today’s digital tools, not only do photographers rely on a great eye, time-tested technique and quality equipment, but also on their ability to optimize images after capture using Photoshop and other tools. Outdoor Photographer talked to some of the best pro nature photographers to find out what techniques they use to make their images stand out from the crowd.

Jay Goodrich (www.jaygoodrich.com) is an internationally published and celebrated photographer. Marc Muench (www.muenchphotography.com) is a professional landscape photographer who’s well-published and was named a Kodak Photo Icon in 2003. Arthur Morris (www.birdsasart.com) is a Canon Explorer of Light and a top bird and nature photographer and instructor. James Kay (www.jameskay.com) is a fine-art landscape and adventure photographer. Moose Peterson (www.moosepeterson.com) is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens and Lexar Elite photographer, focusing on North America’s endangered wildlife and wild places. Guy Tal (www.guytal.com) is an outdoor photographer working and teaching in Utah’s scenic Canyon Country. All of these techniques will help you explore new ways to think about and approach adjustments to your images.

Jay Goodrich
Color Range Selections
1 One of my favorite Photoshop tools is the Color Range selection tool. It’s especially handy when working on nature images because it allows you to make a selection based on—you guessed it, color. To utilize it, choose Select > Color Range from the menu. Click in the image to define the base color you want to select, then choose the “plus” eyedropper in the Color Range dialog box and click (or drag) in additional areas of the image to add colors to the range to be selected (the “minus” eyedropper allows you to remove colors from the range). Once you identify the range of colors you want to select, click OK to create the selection. You then can add an adjustment layer to apply a targeted adjustment to the area you selected.

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Smart Selective Sharpening
2 With Smart Selective Sharpening, I utilize a layer mask to control how much to sharpen specific areas of the image. This works really well for wildlife portraits where I want the animal to possess finite detail, but the background to remain blurred. I also use it in a landscape image where there are clouds and other features that I don’t want sharpened. Sharpening can add noise to these smoother-toned areas, and that’s something that I try to avoid.

To make this work, click on the Background image layer on the Layers panel and choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters from the menu so you can apply a filter nondestructively. Then choose Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask (or Smart Sharpen) and sharpen your image like you would normally. Once sharpened, click the Smart Filters mask directly below your Background image layer on the Layers panel. Press the D key—this puts your default colors back to black and white. Press the B key to choose the Brush tool, and set the Hardness for the Brush pop-up on the Options bar to 0% to ensure a soft edge. Press D to set the colors to their default values of black and white and then press X to swap foreground and background colors so black is the foreground color. Now you can paint on the image anywhere you don’t want the sharpening to appear.

If you take too much sharpening away, press X again to make white the foreground color and paint again to bring back the sharpening. You also can adjust the intensity of the effect by adjusting the Opacity setting for the brush on the Options bar.


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