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Constans' Awesome Photography/Photoshop Thread

Discussion in 'Graphics Discussion' started by Constans, Apr 28, 2013.

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  1. Constans

    Constans Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    So I'd been meaning to make a photography/Photoshop thread for a while and Naeblis finally bugged me into doing it. I know we already have a PS thread, but that's mostly visual/graphic arts kinda stuff (hats off to Jon for that btw). I thought this'd rather be more of a photography composition/critique/tutorial kind of thing and see how it went from there...

    There's no substitute for a good composition. Whether you do it by cropping after you take the photo or in camera, a badly composed photo is a bad photo, period. Keeping that in mind, here are 2 simple "rules of composition" you can use everywhere, from a Hasselblad to a VGA camera.

    The Rule of Thirds is probably the most well known composition technique out there, and for good reason. The idea is quite simple. Imagine the frame to be divided in 3 vertical halves and 3 horizontal ones. Place or line up the the object(s) of interest along where those imaginary lines would intersect. This will produce much stronger images than the usual, cliche object in the center photos. Here's an example:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a side-by-side comparison:

    [​IMG]

    A corollary from the rule, is that something interesting should fill a third of your frame. For example, the horizon should be placed on the lower or upper thirds and not the center. You'd place it in the lower third if you wanted to give more space (the remaining 2/3rds) to, say, an amazing set of clouds during sunset. On the other hand, if you wanted to show off a beautiful landscape and the sky was meh, you'd put the horizon on the upper third to reduce emphasis on the sky. Have an image:

    [​IMG]

    Secondly, here's an obvious one about asymmetry in photography. Basically, if you have an "error" in your photo, either try to minimize it or try to make it seem that it's deliberate.

    A good example would be tilt. People love to tilt their photos. If you want to do it, make sure you tilt it a lot. That makes it "artistic". A little bit makes it look like a mistake.

    You can do this with other things too. For example, one person in a photo is an anomaly. A group is you "showing the everyday life" of a place. :)

    Take two examples (of the tilt thing):

    (Slightly Tilted)

    [​IMG]

    (Very Tilted)

    [​IMG]

    As a footnote, let me make clear that every single "rule" of composition can/should and often is broken to produce excellent photos. I myself do it every now and then. But these are a good starting point. Similarly, there are lots of reasons the photos above work or fail - but the rules are a good first thing to get right


    Now, moving on to post processing (after camera stuff/editing/Photoshop). I love post processing, plain and simple! It's easily half of my workflow. Without getting into an extended debate about it, I'll say two things. First, Ansel Adams did it. Second, I don't think there's anything more noble about walking three steps to the right on location over moving a cursor 30 pixels to crop the same. Anyways...

    I'm going to be using Photoshop for these because it's pretty much the standard. PS Elements has rather parallel controls. I know a lot of you use GIMP (cough*Oz*cough). I've never used it, but from everything I hear, it's got enough analogous tools for the purposes of this post.

    At its heart, I think PS boils down to three things. Possible the most crucial of those are Layers and Layer Masks. I know a lot of people have trouble getting this concept so I'll try and be as simple as I can. Think of layers like sheets on a bed. You only see what is on top.

    Why's this cool? Layers allow you to make adjustments/edits on a per layer basis. You can add contrast on one layer, sharpen the photo on another and then add saturation. Then you decide you don't want the photo sharpened or more saturated. Just delete that layer and that particular effect is gone without affecting anything else. Similarly, say you have 10 layers with 10 different effects, you want to see what the photo looks like without one of those. Just turn off the layer! And you can rearrange them too. You can blend the layers too, similar rules applying.

    First you want to Duplicate a layer. This is so that the new layer is not 'empty' (which are also possible, and have other purposes). The point of this is ensure that the actual Adjustments/Edits (Contrast etc.) you make subsequently do not damage the original photo. This allows for what is called non-destructive editing. Ctrl/Cmd+J is the keyboard shortcut, or Layer>Duplicate Layer from the menu, or right click and Duplicate Layer. Then you can proceed to modifying the photo as needed.

    Have some visuals.

    [​IMG]

    Layer Order Switched

    [​IMG]

    This takes us to Layer Masking. Masking is basically a fancy word for applying the layer selectively. I'll show this through an image:

    [​IMG]

    (Larger Copy)

    In the screenshot above, notice the Layer Panel on the bottom right. I had a black and white layer on the top, and a colored one below. I added a layer mask to it by pressing the Add Vector Mask Button (highlighted at the end of the panel) - you can also do that by going to Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All/Hide All (meaning explained in next paragraph). The layer mask is the attached thing to the layer.

    Notice that the black bits on the mask correspond to the the colored layer below and white to the top Black and White Layer. White reveals and black conceals. This is the bit to keep in mind. In other words, painting on a layer mask with black color hides the top layer and lets the lower layers show through - concealing the top layer. White does just the opposite - reveal.

    You can "paint" on the Layer Mask using black/White as necessary using the brush tool after you create the layer mask. Just click the Brush (highlighted on left) or press B.

    Here's the same image without any Layer below. See the "empty pixels" in the center of the image where I concealed the layer - because there was nothing underneath it!

    [​IMG]

    (Larger Copy)

    So why's this cool? Selectively adding any effect. You can go as OCD as you want here - change the opacity of the brush, the hardness, the shape, etc etc. So the possibilities are endless. You can quite literally paint an effect!

    And that ladies and gentlemen, if you've come this far, is Layers and Layer Masks. Sorry the "basic" trick took so long. But this is fundamental of photoshop. Just about everything on Photoshop builds on this. Once you have Layers and Layer Masking down, everything else is additive.

    Alright, basics down, let's get to the really cool parts already! Here's an 'intermediate trick' for you. Curves are quite possibly my absolutely favorite Adjustment (edit/filter/effect) in PS cuz of their versatility.

    Before going to Curves, you must understand the basics of Contrast. Contrast is basically the range of color - the difference between the the darkest and the brightest parts of the image. So adding contrast is nothing but brightening the lightest parts of the image and darkening the darkest parts. Reducing it is just the opposite.

    The Curves adjustment is basically a graph of the light throughout the image - left is to dark and right is to light. A linear line is the default. Moving a part of the line up brightens the corresponding light level of the image and moving it down darkens. Visuals:

    Creating a Curves Adjustment. You can also go to Image>Adjustments>Curves.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Note that the points act as a...marker (?)...of sorts. Here, I darkened the darks and brightened the brights by using 2 points and dragging down/up. I could have clicked once for a point and brightened those bits if I needed just that or clicked a second time 'line' on the left without moving it down (as in the S curve) to make sure that the darker bits were unaffected by the adjustment in the lighter areas. Also, you can obviously create a "reverse S" to decrease contrast (brighten the darks and darken the lights).

    Now here's an example:

    [​IMG]

    Why's this cool? 3 reasons: 1 obvious and 2 not no much. There's the popular use of the Curves Adjustment to play with contrast. However, you can also use it to just darken or brighten the image (and selectively too by placing pin/markers to prevent a particular part of the image from being affected). And here's a bonus one. Notice the "RGB" in the upper half of the panel? You can click and select Red/Green/Blue and play around with the individual color Curves too. All the cross processed (Instagram type) photos you see? Yeah, that's how this is done - albeit this can be infinitely more precise.

    Oh, and keep in mind that you can combine this with a Layer Mask to selectively apply the adjustment. In fact a Layer Mask is always automatically attached to any "Adjustment" you use. Btw, you can press the Eye right next to a layer to toggle it on/off. Here's a visual of the entire thing:

    [​IMG]

    First off, thanks for holding up with me so far. You're probably wondering if I'm ever actually going to get to something beyond the general stuff, something that you can go and apply to your photos immediately. Worry not, here's an "advanced" trick for you. When I say advanced, what I really mean is highly specialized. I'm sure some of you have seen if not heard of this trick before, the Orton Effect.

    For a change I'll jump straight to why's this cool so you know whether it's for you or not. Ever see photos with people/fog/grass with that nice and soft dreamy look about it? Or just about any other subject one can think of?

    [​IMG]

    If it's anything similar to that, there is a good chance you're looking at an example of the Orton Effect. You can use this to get that cool shiny water, brilliant fog, soft glow about a woman's a face (men and "soft glow" usually doesn't go well ;)), soft yet sharp flowers, vibrant lush green grass, etc etc. (As with all things photography, the limit to using it, is really your creativity.)

    You can read the linked wiki above if you want, but basically the principle is this. You combine a normal (sharp) and a brightened blurred image into one, creating areas of high and low detail with a nice glow.

    Alright, here's what to do.

    In Photoshop, create a Duplicate Layer of all the work you've done so far using Cmd/Ctl+J. Now if you have an adjustment layer (like Curves) as the topmost layer, duplicating will just give you another curves layer with identical settings. So you Merge Visible (Cmd/Ctl+Shift+J or Layer>Merge Visible) which basically creates a combined layer from all your images below, on the top of the pile. You can also Merge Layer (Cmd+E) to merge the layers together - but this loses the earlier editing you might want to preserve in case the new effect doesn't work out). But feel free to do either.

    Once you've done this, Duplicate again. So basically you should have two identical layers on the top to be able to use. Set the Blending Mode from "Normal" to "Screen". This brightens the image btw. Then Merge the new two layers (Cmd+E, Layer>Merge Down both work, just note that if you have any layers selected by your mouse, the command will merge those layers and not the top two).

    [​IMG]

    Duplicate the layer again to again have two identical overly bright layers on the top. Then go to Filter>Gaussian Blur and apply the filter to the top layer. Radius should be anywhere from 21 to 50 depending upon the resolution of the image and amount of effect you want. This is where you are free to go wild (personally on a 35MP image I usually go from 25-35ish)...

    Merge the layers again like earlier and change the blending mode to "Multiply". You'll see this darkens the image.

    And we're almost done. You can see the glowly look I was talking about almost appear, right?

    BUT we don't want the a blanket effect (I usually don't, because then there's nothing special about the...well...special parts I to specifically add the effect to). So then, go ahead, add a layer mask to the Orton layer (decribed earlier) and paint as you like.

    Oh, and if done all that you might as well fine tune a little bit more by changing the "Opacity" of the Orton layer to fine tune a little more, just like you can do to the brush as shown on the top of the PS window. (Note: I usually have my Orton layer around 35-50% opacity)

    Now then, here's a cool Orton example I saw recently!

    Original

    [​IMG]

    Orton Overdose

    [​IMG]

    Locally applied and fine tuned Orton

    [​IMG]

    Note: The effect adds some contrast to your image too (your brightening the image and darkening it - in unequal proportions!) so keep that in mind.


    Ahh, so that's about it for this post. And no, I didn't set out to write an essay when I began. I promise my future posts won't be this insane and I'll try and limit them to a paragraph or three at most!

    How the thread goes is totally up to you. If you want photo critiques, post 'em - I'll post my own pics too. If you want more more PS tricks we could share or something. If you have problems, post where you get stuck. If you want to know something specific like "How do I darken the skies/How do I remove my pimples/" in my photos or something, drop a line. Also, tell me the bits you liked and hated. Was it too basic/advanced? Do you want more composition techniques or post processing tricks? Do you want single tricks or more of a sequence of tricks that builds on the previous? Do you want more stuff in Camera RAW/Lightroom (the other software I use)? Do you help on a filing system for your photos? Anything goes...

    If you have tricks of your own I'D LOVE to hear about them - composition, post processing, anything goes. Also, post your own photos (using these or any techniques really) too. If you take awesome photos - share the goodness! If you take crappy ones, I guarantee I can show (and will) you one I've taken that's much crappier. But SHARE!

    To end, I'll share two of my recent fav. photographers. Landscape/travel - Elia Locardi is pretty cool. And since Ash reminds me about how I need more variety, have Jaime Ibarra (has NSFW pics too, though there's an adult filter on by default) for candids/fashion. He's neither most common type of fashion photographer out there nor the most famous. However, his photos have a certain...."look" about them that you can tell instantly.

    Cheers.

    A big shout out to Oz for encouraging me to make this; Naeblis for helping with the structure/content of the thread - and the title (to my objections); and, CheddarTrek for quickly proofing it! And a smaller one to Sree for being spectacularly unhelpful.

    Footnote: Keep in mind that I tried to start with the essentials and build up here. Everything I've done? There are at least 10 other different ways to use the same commands, apply the same tricks, and so on. Similarly, there are infinite permutations and combinations to everything I've done for a host of other uses, be it Layers, Curves, Orton, etc etc. Like the Room of Requirement in a cliche fic, your imagination is your limit really.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  2. Rapscallion

    Rapscallion Groundskeeper

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    Awesome thread is awesome indeed.

    I know majority of the population here are tech (compute/programming) oriented, and would rather like Photoshop stuff/tricks. But if people could also post about basic stuff related to photography, for instance, simple things like composition that Constans described, it would be much appreciated. Because there are some people (like me) who won't have much use for the high town stuff, rather it would be the basic things, which would help us in our personal day to day photography.
     
  3. Nae

    Nae The Violent

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    Nice work. Orton seems really cool. :D

    I don't really mess around with photos too much, but when I try, I fail miserably. My standard way is to just mess around with contrast, brightness, saturation etc until it "looks nice".

    Anywho, would love to see more tricks. I'll boot up Windows and play around with a few of those later.
     
  4. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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    My orton effect came out awful, but I think the picture didn't really suit it. >.>

    Nice thread! :>
     
  5. Idiot Rocker

    Idiot Rocker Auror

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    Awesome thread Constans. Fuckin A man.
     
  6. CheddarTrek

    CheddarTrek Set Phasers to Melt Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Fantastic thread -- I'm interested in seeing you keep doing a range of things here Constans. As in I find things about composition and the "basics" to be super useful for me personally, and I'm able to follow the tricks (even if I would have to constantly refer to this post to get them to work).

    I'll be sure and ask for tips on fixing up photos sometime too. Probably sometime soon -- my parents just sold their house, the one I grew up in, and I am probably gonna take a few pictures before they move out. Great opportunity to play with some photos. Pity there's all this crap in the yard I can't move out of the way to get a proper picture. XD
     
  7. Constans

    Constans Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    Don't worry Raps, I'll try and throw in a composition trick or two whenever I can - as you'll see.

    This is about half of what I do. When I usually take - or at the latest when I sit to post process, I have a general idea of what I want in a photo. I'll explain through an example.

    Here's a really basic photo I took a while ago when I wasn't particularly good at post processing. It'll do for the explanation though.

    [​IMG]

    For this photo, by the time I sat down to process it (based on other similar photos I'd seen and the scene), I had this is mind. "Alright, this is a holiday Christmas photo. Christmas is festive and happy. So I kind of want a warm, moody and dreamy photo.". Nothing too detailed, right? The rest the reverse engineered. A dreamy photo ought to not be super sharp and have a glow, so let's see what I can do about. This has to be warm and saturated, but can't be too much - it has red couches that'll go weird. Hmm now for nice contrast, I want some blacks here, let's see what can I do.

    Don't get me wrong, there are 10 things wrong with this photo - it's nowhere close to my fav. But I think it's a good example of my point.

    On the other hand, there are lots of times when I just wing it so to say. Landscapes - which are most of my work, are a good example. I'll usually sit down and just play around with stuff until it "looks right". Usually I'll make the slider jump to extremes - 0 then 100. Then 20 and 80. And so on until I narrow down what looks about right....Try that sometime. Of course there are a number of landscapes where I do also have an idea of what I want from the beginning - scenes where you can "just tell" - usually mostly similar thought process like the earlier pic.

    Oz, I did say Orton was specific. Sometimes it'll work, sometimes it won't. Just play around with it. I recommend trying to dial down the effect by a lot and then building up slowly. Did you make the jump to PS from GIMP btw?

    As I said to Raps, more composition coming right up! And yeah, the thing with composition rules is that for a while you have to consciously think about them/refer to them when you're taking a photo. However, soon they become ingrained! And then is the really cool part - because that's when you can start *breaking* them. Which is quite a bit of fun. Also, yeah feel free to post questions about how to fix a particular scene - I love architecture!


    Alright folks, here's some new stuff and stuff that builds upon old stuff.

    First, I'll start with another really basic composition rule that works quite well. Leading lines. They're exactly what they sound like. Lines that lead you around, duh. The idea is basically that in a well composed/good photo, there are objects that help you navigate the photo. Like you follow those to the subject. You'll see with the examples below.

    [​IMG]

    Obvious one here. And a rather popular type of shot too. The road is leading your eye towards what is arguably the central part of the photo.

    However, there are lots of examples that are less clear.

    [​IMG]

    In this one, the tree being the thing with most contrast, is probably what you look at first (also due to to its central placement). Think about it, the branches are nothing but lines. More of those lines lead up to the sunset. Which btw, is more colorful too. Consequently, I'd bet a lot of you noticed that before the water. On the other hand, some of you may like water, or that lone isolated line leading to it. Which drew all the more attention to it. So you saw the water first. Either ways, the point is that you don't "see" all the photo at once. In a good photo there are lines that give direction to where you look at.

    [​IMG]

    Obvious lines, helping draw your attention to the building even more. And towards the clouds away from the relatively boring ground.

    [​IMG]

    Here they convey a sense of depth and allow you to figure that yeah it's a long empty train. Because they lead you towards the other end and convey a sense of distance.

    [​IMG]

    Another obvious one, the pier thing being it. Helps you focus towards the city. A bridge may just as well do the same.

    [​IMG]

    Not only those, here the people photos too. Your nose, eyes, eyebrows, etc. All lines that lead you towards something (lips, eyes, etc, hair, etc.). Think about it, you probably stare at those more in a good photo than just the cheekbones - unless they are really well defined like lines.

    The point of so many different photos is this. So far we used trees, bridges, roads, architecture, facial features, etc as leading lines. Either to draw attention towards the cool bit of your image or more importantly away from the boring bits of the image. Just about every situation you'll ever take a photo in - even a drunk Friday night party, will have lots of lines. You just have to learn to notice them - and incorporating them into a photo isn't even hard! It's just a matter of keeping an eye out so to say.

    Alright enough about geometry. Here's another composition trick. Slightly more advanced, building up on the earlier described Rule of Thirds. In fact, this is where the Rule of Thirds comes from - I'm sure some of you have heard about it earlier. The Golden Ratio/Phi and a bunch of other names. The principle is the same - line up along the grid while composing. It's a little trickier, but I almost always use it over the "rule of thirds".

    If you want you can read about where it comes from, I won't bother going into it because it's just too complicated.

    Here's what you want to know though. The grid is slightly different from the Rule of Thirds Grid. And less 'crowded' - which if you've taken a lot of Rule of Thirds photos, you'll notice might become a problem.

    [​IMG]

    My advice? Memorize the grid. You don't have to be precise, but a rough approximate. Oh and btw the focal point mark on the grid refers not to that specific point but an intersection in general.

    Here are a couple of examples.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Notice that a lot of these photos don't have a single 'rule' so to say. They all work together. Take the last photo. Here's a breakdown of how your eye flows along the image.

    [​IMG]

    The entire image is also placed along the Golden Ratio/Phi. Oh and here's a bonus one. It has a different "rule of thirds" I like to follow. Very simply? Every third of a photo must have at least one interesting thing. You have the top sky, the bridge/city and the water. Now these aren't "interesting" in the conventional sense. However, they are are fairly different from each other and interesting/unique in that sense.

    Alright, that's composition. Got you fill Raps and Ched? :)

    Now on to the really cool post processing bits. ;-)

    Last time I choose to explain the basics of Photoshop. Here for a change I'll just tell you stuff you can immediately apply to your photos.

    So, we're going to talk about sharpening! Why's this cool? Oh come one, everyone loves clear and sharp photos. So I'll go over two technique for you.

    Here's the first for non-people photos. Duplicate the layer twice. On the topmost layer, apply a High Pass Filter (Filter>Other>High Pass). Let it be somewhere between 2 to 5 depending upon how much sharpening you want. This gives a weird greyish thing. Don't worry! Just change the blend mode to Soft Light or Overlay (the latter is a bit sharper). Then, double click on the thumbnail of the layer in the layers panel (or click on the "fx" below the layers panel and then select Blending Options).

    [​IMG]

    Now as shown in the screenshot, we're working with the "This Layer" sliders. Mover the left (black one) to 50. Now, and this is a bit fine work, click somewhere close to it on the right side while pressing the Alt/Option key. What this does is split the Black Slider as shown in the screenshot. This is basically just fine tuning. Similarly, move the right slider to 200 and then alt click somewhere to the left this time somewhere to split the right slider and drag the split left bit to 150. Here's what they'll look like in the end.

    [​IMG]

    Press ok and and merge the two layers you created. Now you can add a layer mask and/or change opacity to selectively apply the mask as needed!

    (Notice how you can change the Opacity/Blending Mode in Blending Options too!)

    Here's a before and after.

    [​IMG]

    Before

    [​IMG]

    After

    I've linked the high res versions where the difference is clearer. (Note that I added more sharpening that I would usually, to make the screenshots clearer).

    Here's an actual example of where the technique is used selectively.

    [​IMG]

    Notice that everything is not similarly sharp. That's another piece of advice. Sharpen stuff you want to draw attention too. Think about it, if everything is sharp, then nothing is sharp!

    Alright, now here's one for people pictures! This is a famous trick by one of my favorite photographers, Calvin Hollywood. He calls it the "Freaky Details" technique.

    Once again, duplicate the layers twice. Click on the Top Layer, hold down the Cmd/Ctl key, click on the second layer and then press Cmd/Ctl+G, Making a "Group". Change the Blend Mode of the Group to Overlay. Now, change the Blend Mode of the first top layer in the group to Vivid Light. Your image looks really ugly right now. Don't worry! Now, invert the top Vivid Light Layer, by pressing Cmd/Ctl+I. Your image will look weird infrared at this point.

    And now's the interesting part. We'll go to Filters and use Surface Blur. The Threshold should be between 10-20 levels. If you have a high threshold you'll see weird halos. So keep that mind. Also, keep the the radius low around 20 if you want to bring out fine detail in the image (pores of the skin type - for men usually - the whole gritty thing). However if you want a nice contrasty detail, have a higher radius (around 50ish). No set recc. for the radius, you just want to experiment. And you're done. Btw, Surface Blur is one of the slowest filters in PS - so feel free to grab a coffee while it runs.

    Why's this technique cool? Basically it allows you to add detail to without over-sharpening the edges of a face. And now, here's an example of a photo sharpened by this (high radius - contrasty sharpen).

    [​IMG]

    (Go experiment on your own to see what fine detail looks like!)

    Alright, so that's about that. As always tell me what you think and what you want in the next one.

    Would you guys care for some DSLR camera tricks? I thought about posting such stuff, but I was doubtful because I don't know how many have DSLRs and really didn't want to limit the conversation to those people.

    Also, notice I have avoided posting obvious tricks like Sharpening images using the Sharpen filters in Photoshop. I thought that given they were named Sharpen it was kind of obvious what they did and you guys could experiment on your own. But if you want me to go over those, just drop a line and I will. Which is why I did the more complicated finer methods of sharpening here - that are well worth it imo.

    A little sick while I'm writing this, so apologies if something is unclear in the tutorials today. Just tell me and I'll either clarify stuff or just edit the OP.

    Alright! To end, here's a REALLY FREAKING amazing photo discovery I made today. Red Hong Yi. I'm not saying anything about her work except she's the first person in a long, long time who made my brain explode from her sheer creativity! I actually exclaimed "Holy Shit" out loud when I saw her work for the first time.

    Lastly, sorry about the essay again. I was thinking over time if more people replied to the thread more frequently, I'd shorten the length and increase the frequency of my posts. GIven right now it's mostly me driving the conversation...
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  8. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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  9. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Figured I'd bump with something I did a while back. :3

    Before:

    [​IMG]

    After:

    [​IMG]

    Anything you'd have done differently, Constans?
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  10. Damask

    Damask Seventh Year

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    Just to add another voice to the chorus: awesome thread, man. (First reaction: wowzah, I've been using techniques without knowing they actually have a name! :O_O: That Orton effect thingy I previously just called "blooming" -- on a second thought, I think I'll continue calling it that. Less clunky.)

    Now, while I could claim some degree of proficiency in Photoshop, I'm less into prettifying photos and more into textures for 3D models, so if anyone is interested in that kind of thing, just give a holler. I was thinking about doing something like a "Photoshop Tip of the Day" series of mini-tutorials on some other websites; if I remember any particularly useful ones that can be of a more general use than just for textures, I'll post them here.

    (Off the top of my head, I have a few ideas for tutorials that apply almost exclusively to texturing -- stuff related to making photos seamless & symmetrizing your textures, for instance. Or creating a good layer mask for lace textures. Would anyone care to read about that?)

    Also, while the initiative is awesome on its own, the posts could use a little more structure. Titled paragraphs or sections, numbered lists of steps, that sort of thing. As I see it, at first it'd be good to just lay out the basics, say what each menu is for, explain selecting & editing selections, fade effects, brightness/hue/saturation etc. ... lots of stuff to do. Of course, it's probably easier to just link to good tutorials hosted elsewhere instead of getting too nitpicky; that depends on what you had in mind with this thread.

    I'll end this with a quickie (no pictures, sorry), since you were talking about sharpening and I don't want to sound like a big tease: you can sharpen a picture using the Emboss effect. Duplicate the layer you want to sharpen, emboss the duplicate (Filter -> Stylize -> Emboss) with the height set to 1 or 2, desaturate it, and set the blending mode to Overlay. (Then merge it down.) The cool thing about it is that it adds a sort of a bump map effect (embossing is how you do usual bump maps after all) besides sharpening; it's not very visible though.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  11. Idiot Rocker

    Idiot Rocker Auror

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    Yeah, I actually just got a new camera (a decent one too, used but whatever) so I'm going to try and use this as a sort of guide. I'd never really used anything other than a point and shoot before so this is going to be interesting. There're so many buttons!

    As you can tell, I'm a wee bit excited to try some of this out.
     
  12. Constans

    Constans Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    Sorry, been hella busy these last few days. Alright, in order.

    Oz:

    Love that link. Especially the bit about the exposure triangle (using pipes) was pretty awesome. Anyone who doesn't get the very basics of DSLRs should definitely read through it. Even if you don't care for DSLRs but like photography, consider reading. Because that page literally explains what makes a photo - and does so very well.

    About the photo. Here's what I'm going to do. Instead of going over everything, I'll just highlight the stuff I really don't like and then put up my own version. Try going over my modifications yourself and seeing whether I 'corrected' stuff I don't like.

    A note about photo critique though - since this is the first one in the thread. This being art, stuff I redo to a photo is very much personal pref. So if you disagree with/don't like something I do - absolutely chime in. There's no wrong/right answers. That said, here goes.

    First, I didn't like the cropping - too much junk. I thought it was too wide so I cropped in even tighter. Next, this is a big one - so little black! A love of bright colorful photos doesn't mean there ought not be BLACKS. Have lots of black shadowy areas. Here's one rule I challenge you to find an exception too - any photo with cool colors you see, it's colors are cool because there probably is a lot of darkness/shadows/blacks that ground the colors. This is always the case. Period. So let shadows be shadows. This photo has so little of them that not even the good stuff - the blue water, seems to have enough of an impact! Now, everything is saturated and sharp here. Meaning nothing is saturated and sharp in the end. So be more selective in applying that stuff. Oh and I didn't like the white balance.

    Here's mine.

    [​IMG]

    Note that it was a JPEG so I couldn't work with the clouds as much as you did. And didn't do much here either for fear of distorting the low res JPEG. Thoughts?

    Damask:

    Thanks! I love Orton! A lot of people think the glowy blur look is weird, but I love it - got into an aesthetics debate defending it just the other day. Btw exactly the other way round for me - I can work on photos forever but suck at just about everything else PS is capable of. And dude, absolutely! You should totally do a PS trick of the day - I'll chime in too - right now I don't because I don't want to be that lone sad person posting... :(

    You should totally do textures! It's the next thing on my list to learn! I'd love to be able to do something like this!

    [​IMG]

    Hmm yeah I see your point about structures. No particular I didn't do it apart from being lazy. I'll keep that in mind for next time. Yeah that was my thought. First, it'd take too much time when I could just link stuff. Second, and more importantly, it's impossible to explain every menu on PS so I just covered relavant stuff. If anyone has any specific questions about any Menu at all I'd just answer in the thread/link tutorials or whatever.

    That said - if you want to do something like that, it'd be awesome and an epic undertaking.

    Huh, interesting, the sharpening trick. Very much like my High Pass trick - but better for edges. I sharpened the photo I redid for Oz using the same thing. Didn't need to desaturate it for some reason though. I see myself using this a good bit.

    Idiot Rocker:

    Cheers man! If you have any questions about stuff at all drop a line here and I'll post a quick response!

    Alright, so for this one, I'm not posting a new trick. Instead I gave critique and thought it'd be cool if you guys critiqued stuff too! Or maybe someone else could post a trick (hear that Jon??) or something. I'll post a photo of my own - feel free to rip it apart absolutely. This one isn't my usual stuff but I like such painterly stuff every now and then.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, here's one of my fav photographers. Thomas Hawk is super active on Flickr and G+ (which is surprisingly popular among photographers) and is trying to go and photograph every major US city. He aggregates/shares a lot of good work around.

    Oh btw what are you guys' thoughts on the new Flickr redesign/free 1tb for all users? The latter is awesome of course. Now I loved the redesign but it seems just about everyone else hates it. How about you??

    P.S. - Almost everything for the redone photo earlier is covered already in this thread.

    Edit: Here's a question for the DLP hive mind. I see this yellow-ish look in SO MANY photos around. I'm sure you guys've seen something similar too. Could someone find out/know/tell what filter/technique is used to get this look? I don't think it is manual Selective Color experimentation because all these photos have too consistent a look.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  13. Ash

    Ash Moves Like Jagger DLP Supporter

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    I think that while your cropping is better, I liked Oz's coloring job more. Yes, it needed slightly more black, but not as much as you added, and I think your version looks way too edited, while Oz's is more natural.
     
  14. Constans

    Constans Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    I do have a taste towards more blacks in an image - well I had a bad habit of not darkening enough, so I might have over compensated.

    That aside though, yeah point well taken about the overall look. I did a really quick - and shoddy job so I didn't mask well. The sky is really weird (I was working with a low res jpeg) and has this pinkish looks, which is what throws off the photo imo. I think it'd have worked more if I had a better sky - the difference in contrast b/w the sky and the ground is simply too much. Looking back, I could also have decreased the saturation of the grass just a tiny bit.

    Although I do prefer the color of grass in mine. I have a thing for savannah like grass. Goes to kind of highlight my point about personal taste (without taking away from the earlier critique). Like I really like this following photo I just saw today - and a bunch of people I know would really dislike it, for the same reasons - high contrast, blacks, desaturated, gritty, etc.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Agreed a little bit with Ashaya, I prefer the colours in mine (although yeah, bit harder to do without the RAW XD). I definitely could have done with cropping it and adding a little bit of black. The rocks on the bottom-left are way too bright and I feel like it's robbing some of the depth from the photo. Kudos. :3

    (In future I'll add the RAWs to the post)
     
  16. Constans

    Constans Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    Oz: If you mean the rocks in my photo being bright, I kind of agree. If I'd done it properly I'd have thought more about my main subject - either the grass or water or sky more, and darkened that. I just did a quick thing to make them all look ok without deciding how they all would work together.

    Which brings me to my other critique of the composition aside from crop. Frankly, the photo is boring. And here's why - I don't know what to look at. What's the main subject? The rocks, the sky or the water? To my eye the turquoise water looks awesome so I'd probably have had more of that in the frame.

    Also consider the rule of thirds I talked about - every third of the photo should have something interesting. The lower half: interesting rocks everywhere, so check. The middle half: roughly half of it has really cool water, but the houses/land are unclear and don't have any distinguishing features, so no. Maybe if there was a really cool house/or even a big one? The upper half: simply, no. Boring clouds. The solution? Wait for sunrise/sunset - no way around it. It's why landscape photography mainly implies just a lot of odd hours.

    Anyways, moving on, Ash's post reminded me of an earlier conversation about how I should share more than landscape. So here's some liquid art.

    There is some great, and insanely complicated liquid photography out there, just check out Flickr/500px/Google. I'll not go over those here, because they're fairly complicated and usually need a bunch of lights and some setup.It's not that they're too hard technically, but they are very very time intensive usually.

    Instead I'll go over 3 examples.

    This one is the hardest - meaning you get the best image. The thing though is the setup although incredibly simple, is a little specialized - although simple enough that most with DSLRs and a basic flash+macro lens (for small objects) will be able to get it. Even if you don't have a macro lens, you will still get a halfway decent image - just less sharp and it's a bit more of a pain to take the photo.

    [​IMG]

    The principle is simple, flash is used to capture motion (because it is a very fast burst of light). This was done on a speaker/subwoofer. The water colors jump and you take a photo, that's it. The result?

    [​IMG]

    Decent?

    The other two examples are ones I did a few years ago, for the first and only photography class I ever took.They're more of a, shall we say, poor man's liquid art. This means most of you guys with semi-decent cameras (not even DSLRs or anything), should be able to do it with a modicum of effort. Oh and note that obviously much better examples of similar stuff exist, I'm merely showing my own simple ones (this not exactly being my own passion).

    Enough talk. Here's the setup. It's pretty self explanatory. Jug, any camera with flash, light, shirt.

    [​IMG]

    The idea, simply, is this, that oil and water don't really mix. The secret is stirring right until you get acceptable shapes.

    Here's the result.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, this is a simple/poor imitation of a rather famous style. People usually do it with an exploding ballon surrounded by all kinds of flashes to capture stuff. There was this one dude who did something using 11 lights and captured the spherical ballon burst in his hand at the right time and got into National Geographic for it. Needless to say, this is nothing like that and is a 'fake' version of the same thing.

    The shot.

    [​IMG]

    No water balloons or anything. Liquid in a normal clear plastic glass. The liquid is khus khus sherbet btw, which if you haven't had you've missed one of the great joys of this world - ask the Indians around (Nae'blis, Klackerz, etc.). Anyways, that tangent aside, you can use food color in water or whatever. Pink shampoo before dissolving. No special lens/flash. It takes a few seconds before it dissolves so if you time it right you have a decent chance of getting something. I guarantee you can do this at home without any "special" camera gear. Try it. (Oh and yeah I passed it in my midterm as this elaborate piece of liquid art that I shot a dart at to burst so my hand wasn't in the shot - full marks. :D)



    Keeping in with the theme, check out Don Komarechka. He takes excellent photos as you'll see in the earlier G+ link. But what makes "The Snowflake Guy" as I call him, unique are his snowflake photos. (His Flickr has more of them together than G+.) This is what I mean when I say that macro stuff can be insanely complicated - oh and he does all this without super specialized equipment. I wouldn't even know where to start.

    Thoughts/critique/suggestions welcome as usual.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  17. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I'd have loved to, but it was literally taken at the side of the road an hour into a 4 hour car journey, lol. Thanks for the CC. :3

    The water photography's pretty cool, nice to see the setup. Dunno that I'd do it, I really love landscape photography above all others but we'll see. :>
     
  18. Constans

    Constans Sixth Year DLP Supporter

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    Fair enough. To be honest more often than not it's very hard for me to do sunset/sunrises - I mean I do them obviously but it's rather painful.

    Haha yeah same, but I wanted to insert in some variety. Might recreate that first one sometime though - the colors look very cool.
     
  19. CheddarTrek

    CheddarTrek Set Phasers to Melt Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Any specific tips on how to edit Black&White photos? I have a few color pictures that I need to try to get to look good in Black&White (mostly landscape or architecture, no people). I can make them B&W easily enough but I'm not sure if there's any specific tricks to make them look good that way.
     
  20. World

    World Oberstgruppenführer Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I'm not much for photography, but for your posts, I like the idea of a mixture of basic and advanced stuff / "tricks". Combines learning and keeping me interested ;)

    Also, several people editing the same raw and seeing what comes out (and reading why they did what) sounds interesting.