digital imaging

Photoshop plug-in for a film look – Nik Color Efex Pro 4

For a part of the individual workshop we did yesterday, Anelisa wore this cute outfit with a bit of a retro look to it. I loved her spontaneous pose here as well. In editing the image, I thought that an “old school” film look to it might suit the final photograph very well.

In previous examples shown here with a vintage look to the photograph, I had used the Totally Rad action sets. This time I wanted a specific film look to it, so I went with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (B&H). This Photoshop plug-in has a 55 different filters. And of course, I like things which are easy to use.

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Get it right in camera? … sure, but on occasion some post-processing helps

This photograph of the outdoor wedding venue gives a great sense of what it looked like there at the time. But the original image looked a lot more dull. There just isn’t a way to capture the deep shaded areas and the bright sky with a single capture, in camera .. without some post-processing work.

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Photoshop tip – easy effect for more punch

Here is a well-known Photoshop technique – one that I like and use on occasion. It desaturates the photograph, while also compressing the tonal range. It creates a modern look that also looks quite trendy. It is also quite easy to apply, by dragging the layers from a reference image once you’ve set it up.

Starting with the original image, I add these two layers:

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Photoshop fairy dust / Neil’s secret sauce

As much as I believe in the “get it right in camera” ethos, it is near inescapable that most images can use some sweetening in Photoshop. My own preference is for fairly subtle retouching of photographs.

The photograph above is one I’ve shown a few times as a great example of how good on-camera bounce flash can look. I did have to adjust the WB and exposure as part of my usual RAW post-processing workflow. And for the image on the left, I also removed some skin blemishes with the Healing Tool. So it does look pretty good .. but it can be subtly enhanced. And the keyword here for me is *subtle*.

My post-processing retouching for portraits involve some Photoshop plug-ins that I use, but there are some useful (and well-known) Photoshop techniques to make an image pop a little bit more. Over several articles on Tangents, I’ve referred to it as either “Photoshop fairy dust” or in a humorous way as my “secret sauce”. The techniques vary, depending on what is needed, and on what I’d like to achieve.  So the “secret sauce” varies from image to image by some degree. It really depends.

With the help of Photoshop wiz, Adrian (aka, Trev from the Tangents forum), we’ve put together two action sets that make these Photoshop techniques quite accessible … and more importantly, accessible in a subtle way. No over-the-top effect. Just that sweetening of the photograph as is necessary. The image on the right-hand shows the type of retouching that is possible with this action set.

The action set, called Neil’s Secret Sauce, is available for download for a $20 fee from that linked page. The zip file includes two actions as well as a PDF instruction sheet.

And of course, we’ll gladly help!

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Adrian, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, (better known as the ever-helpful Trev in the Tangents forum), has the guest spot this week. Adrian has expanded on his explanation of the actions that he mentioned in the comments section of the recent article on Selective Sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as two downloadable actions as well.

Photoshop actions to help with Post Processing (free download)

guest post by Adrian, at Five Star Studios
wedding photographer, Mackay, Queensland in Australia

The following downloadable actions with the instructions on their use can save some time and grief on getting a good result after RAW conversion. Even using your RAW converter may not get a fully desirable end result and these very easy to use actions will help in that regard. They are not complicated and you don’t need any plug-ins to achieve a simple lift to your final image.

The actions, while still utilising the features in photoshop, do it in a different way to what you may have learnt or been shown, by using layers and masks you keep the integrity of your image at the same time giving it that lift.

Things like a simple contrast can be achieved in less than 1 second running the action, but, without the undesired color shift you would get with the ‘generic S Curve’.

Once you have run it through the RAW converter, you can still open the RAW file itself [from ACR] and have an image adjusted quicker and easier than during the RAW stage, or once exported, having a batch opening and then checking selected images make further adjustments much easier.

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vintage pinup photo session

photo session – vintage pinup style (on location)

When the hot-rod show which didn’t offer as much in terms of photography as I had hoped, Jill and I moved over to the pier in Brooklyn. Having a model in a retro sailor-suit type outfit … well, it just seemed to good an opportunity to waste. I thought of perhaps using the Ice Cream Factory there as a backdrop to a straight-forward pinup photo, but ultimately decided the Hudson River waterfront would work better as a setting for the photo.

Then we just had to add some simple but dynamic lighting, and give the final image a vintage flavor with the post-processing …

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post-processing an image – that summery feeling

A hot rod show & hot girls dressed in 50’s retro outfits .. it all just has to look good! Well, not necessarily. Sometimes the way you feel something should look, just isn’t quite there in the actual setting. At a hot rod show today in Brooklyn, though there were the usual awesome cars (and girls), but the show was held under an expressway. Just not quite the right setting to easily get images with sparkle. But parked around the area were some vintage cars, so along with Jill (one of the models), I used some of these cars for a few images.

But even here the images I got just didn’t quite looked like I envisaged. I wanted a lazy, but sexy and summery feel to the photos. Less about the car itself, than the mood. So the photographs needed some sweetening in Photoshop …

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Photoshop action – selective sharpening (download)

Jim McGuinness, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, has made available a tutorial on how to do selective sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as a downloadable action as well.

You can download the action and the instructions on how to use it, from here.
Right-click & save-as, 2 of the files files:
– the action as either Windows / Mac compressed file
– the instruction as a PDF

Expand / uncompress the sitx file. You’ll get a Photoshop icon.
Drag your image onto the icon, and photoshop will run it.

I’ll let Jim follow up for any questions that may crop up.

[ Jim McGuinness is an Adelaide based wedding and family portrait photographer ]


a RAW workflow – the first step – changing your default settings

As a bit of a forward nudge to those who are entirely new to a RAW workflow, or who hesitantly moved to shooting in RAW – here’s the next step forward – changing the defaults for your RAW file.

Before we even get there, shooting in RAW is very much part of the serious photographer’s environment. Shooting just in JPG is rarely an option. As I have mentioned, there are few occasions where shooting in JPG might be an advantage. So with that in mind … RAW it is. And has to be.

Now, some notes for the newcomers to shooting in RAW.
There are a few things you have to keep in mind:

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RAW vs JPG – the final discussion

The RAW vs JPG debate has raged on to the point where pretty much every photographer has been worn down, or left confused. It’s been done. But bear with me on this one. It’ll be quick. And convincing. Then we really are done with this. Here it is:

There is NO photographer on this planet who is good enough to get:
– correct white balance,
– correct exposure,
– correct brightness level,
– correct overall and local contrast,
– correct saturation,
– a good black point,
– or anything else you’d like to add,
DURING the moment of capture, for EVERY situation they are likely to encounter.

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