#CreativeFriday – Photographic Edge Burn Technique

Over Exposing or burning the edge of a final photograph, has been around for a long time and has been used extensively by the photographic master printers since the 50’s (maybe even earlier). The primary reason to create the edge burn area is to hold the view in the image whilst they are looking at it. This post is about how to re-create the same effect in Lightroom and Photoshop.
If we think why we start the imaging post process, we are thinking about what the final image needs to represent or communicate to the viewer. To achieve this we can use the Lightroom and Photoshop and the wealth of features that they both provide. Not all tools in each program need to be used on every single picture, but I would suggest that there are a few mandatory develop mode panels that should be used for each image.
Basic Panel. 
     This is great to getting your images to a state of readiness for any additional processing. This panel is focused on working with the histogram, and using these control you have the ability to correct any white balance, exposure corrections, contrast, as well as recover any shadow and highlight information in the picture. There are also other powerful tools, like setting the white and black clipping points in the image, as well as clarity, saturation and vibrance. Most of the time, these tools might be all you need to correct the image to make it presentable.
Details
     This panel is typically used to sharpen the image, we will look at this in more detail in a future post. But in essence, it will enable you to choose how much sharpness is applied and the details to recover, but also the ability to control the sharpen mask and select which areas of the image will be sharpened. Sharpening is typically performed at the end of the post processing, however, when using Lightroom it’s ok to add sharpening at any point and refine during the editing process (this works hand in hand with Lightroom’s non destructive editing philosophy).
Lens Corrections
     I would also strongly recommend that lens profiles are applied to the camera body and lens that the image was taken with, i.e. Canon, Nikon, Leica and Hasselblad are a few of the manufactures that Adobe works with to make sure that any natural vignetting or barely distortion are removed before the image is worked on.
N.B. Compact system cameras like the Fuji x-series and Olympus cameras to name a few automatically transfer the lens correction details to Lightroom and the software will automatically apply this to the image.
Effects panel
     The other panel that I typically use in my post processing is the Effects Panel.
The reason that the master printers used an edge burn technique back in the day is that it can help a viewer of a photograph stay within the image when they are looking at it.
To fully understand why the edge burn is so important, we have to look at what the human mind or the limbic part of the brain is looking for and what grabs it’s attention. In it’s basic form, the Limbic brain when seeking for things doesn’t care if it’s good limbic or bad limbic. For example, imagine you are sat in the train carriage and there is another passenger that is working on their laptop and has very heavy hands. Once you hear the tapping of the keyboard it can be challenging to de-focus , the tapping of the keys is very limbic, but not in the good way, it can be highly distracting. The same applies to photographs and something that we can think about and use to control of how the viewer interprets the photograph and gain their attention.
When i’m editing my images, there are some basic elements I am looking for and wanting to improve. Elements like image structure/composition, engaging content as well as more specific limbic elements that can grab the viewers attention. Limbic areas in a photograph that I tend to focus on are how how the dark and light areas are represented and affect each other. These areas if done badly can be highly distracting, however, if done well can be used to navigate the viewers eyes around the image, and focus on the part of the image that I want them to focus on.
Brightness – The areas of brightness in an image need to be controlled for maximum effect. For example, if there are elements within the image that are brighter than the main focus point, these will grab the attention of the viewer and could loose the main focus and point of the image. Once our eyes see this part of the scene, the limbic part of the brain gets attracted, engages and tends to override other parts of the image. Once these areas have been found, the viewer (in my opinion) will get stuck on these areas and will be drawn back to them time and time again, potentially missing the point of the photograph.
So when i’m working on an image, my first activity is to remove anything that will distract the viewer in this way. In the dark room this was called dodge and burn, and also spotting (spotting was mostly done once the print had been created and was done directly to the print using inks), spotting was used to remove dust spots or anything that would show the natural brightness of the paper. In the digital world on a screen this could be something as simple as litter or other artefacts in the original scene. It could also be a bright light in the image, which might not have been noticed when taking the picture (I’ll come onto bright lights in a little while).
Removal of bright areas is pretty straight forward and there are many ways to remove bright areas in the scene, especially when they are small. Tools like the Clone/Heal in Lightroom, or tools like the Spot Heal/ Clone stamp or variety of patch tools in Photoshop have been designed for this type of activity.
Dark areas can also be Limbic but in a different way. As bright areas are attractive, dark areas like shadows push our eyes away and promote hunting of other Limbic bright areas.  So when our eyes see dark areas, they tend to shy away and repelled from these places.
The edge burn technique is a great way for us to control the viewers experience and when the viewers eyes reach the edges of the image, they are pushed back in to the image (centre) to find areas of interest, in this case bright areas.
Times of change.
Back in the day, photographs were printed and photography was all about the print. And edge burning was an active part of the process. However, as times have moved on, there are less images printed and more images appearing on the screen. This does change that way that we need to think about edge burning and when it’s required. For example if the image is shown with a white border on the screen, our eyes will focus on the border and use this as a frame of reference, as opposed to the image, due to the brightness of the border. Once the tones of the border become darker, from middle grey onward the focus and dominance of the image changes, allowing the eyes to focus more towards the image (probably why most slide shows are on a black border). When darker borders are used, burning is not important as the border it self is a big edge burn. If the image on the screen is surrounded by a brighter border (from middle grey to white), then an edge burn might be required to keep the viewer in the image.
When we print (especially in fine art printing), however, it’s most likely that the border will be a mount, and will be a shade of white, (natural white or maybe a snow white are typical). Regardless, it’s still bright and if we are not careful when editing the image, focus of the story in the frame can be lost to the borders and loose the attention of the viewer. In this case, edge burning might be a consideration.
Applying a simple edge burn
In Lightroom the Post Crop Vignette (available under the effects tab) is a simple way to implement the edge burn. There are numerous options for the vignette
Sliders and Controls
Highlight Priority 
Enables highlight recovery but can lead to color shifts in darkened areas of a photo. Suitable for photos with bright image areas such as clipped specular highlights.
Colour Priority minimises color shifts in darkened areas of a photo but cannot perform highlight recovery.
Paint Overlay mixes the cropped image values with black or white pixels. Can result in a flat appearance.
The sliders:
Amount – negative values darken the corners of the photo. Positive values lighten the corners.
Midpoint – lower values apply the Amount adjustment to a larger area away from the corners. Higher values restrict the adjustment to an area closer to the corners.
Roundness – lower values make the vignette effect more oval. Higher values make the vignette effect more circular.
Feather – lower values reduce softening between the vignette and the vignette’s surrounding pixels. Higher values increase the softening.
Highlights – (Highlight Priority and Color Priority only) Controls the degree of highlight contrast preserved when Amount is negative. Suitable for photos with small highlights, such as candles and lamps.
The post crop vignette also supports changes in the crop, by applying the effect after a crop has been modified.
The above options will allow you to create the required edge burn, you will need to wrangle with it to get the results that you want. But if you are wanting to apply an edge burn, similar to the way that the master prints did in the dark room, then it should not be obvious to the viewer, only slightly darker to move the eyes back to the main part of the scene. In the book ‘The Print’ by Ansel Adams, Ansel recommends that the edge burn should be no more than 10% to 20% more than the current exposure of the main part of the scene. In the context of Lightroom, this will need to be converted into a negative value (-10 to -20, I tend to typically use about -17).
Which images might work better with an edge burn.
Not every image will require an edge burn, this will mostly be dictated by the strength of the content in the scene.
i.e. When an edge burn may not be required
In the following example, the bright areas will attract the eye and will keep the viewer in the scene.
Before.
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 15.05.15
After
The adjustments to this image are quite simple. A recovery of any highlight and shadow detail, then set the white and black point. These are the basic adjustments that I would apply to this image to add more interest for the viewer. Other options include adding 2 radial filters, one to each of the subjects that will darken the areas around them even more. The basic adjustments here, work (in my opinion) because there no strong leading lines or lines of travel in the photograph, so if the viewers eye does accidentally drift to the edges, then the quantity of contrast and the darken edges will move the viewers eye back into the scene.
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 14.23.35
If there are bright areas in the edges, then an edge burn would most likely be effective and required.
In the following example. The young hay gather is the focus, however, the edges are brighter than the main subject. The hay is important as it adds context to the image but I don’t want it to take over and fight for attention with the main subject.
Before
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 14.24.40
After
In this case i would use a Radial filter over the young man that will give more focus on him, then use an adjustment brush on the eyes to increase the exposure to attract the viewer into the scene. In the post process, i’ve also added a gradient filter on the left hand side to darken this area down, as it’s a bit bright. The final touch is a crop to remove the break up of hay on the left, then a post crop vignette of -20 to darken all edges equally.
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 15.11.03
If there are dark edges already, then an additional edge burn won’t make much of a difference, the natural darkness will perform the same thing as the edge burn would. The final presentation should be taken into consideration, and if printing, the type of mount will make a difference. This is just one way of applying an edge burn, there are others ways as well, i.e. Radial filter or if using Photoshop by creating a mask, or using the Camera Raw Filter in Photoshop to apply a radial or Post Crop Vignette.
In the following example, there isn’t a great deal of darkness in the edges, there is however  a lot of break up revealing areas of brightness in between the tree branches. In this case there is a danger that the viewers eye will be drawn to the edges. The main subject is the temple, but there is a risk that the speed of the roof will throw the viewer out of the scene.
 Before
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 14.27.12
After
To balance the image, the exposure, shadows, highlights and contrast are corrected, as well as the white black points to add more contrast. An edge burn of -20 has been added that will add darkness to the edges. Exploring the scene, in my opinion, the viewers eye will be drawn the roof at the top (due to the brighter areas), then the viewers eye will follow the roof lines, downward. Due to the edge burn, the viewers eye should then naturally pick up the branch of the tree and the viewer should naturally come back to the top of the roof and create a continuous circular flow of movement in the scene.
Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 15.20.03
Additional – Using bright areas as part of the scene
In the scene below, the lights are limbic and distracting, however, i feel that in the following example the lights work and are being used as a frame to focus the viewer in to the main part of the image.
 Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 19.38.06
The edge burn combined with the contents and flow of the elements of the image, is a great technique that can significantly improve the look and presence of your final image. This technique is suited to both print and presentation on the digital screen (slide show, a photography portfolio, Facebook or other social networks). It might require a little bit of wrangling to get exactly right and so that the viewer is not able to see it, but in my opinion is defiantly worth the additional effort.

I would like to wish all readers a very Happy Easter and hope that you are able to get out and shoot some frames.
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#CreativeFriday – Making your own and sharing your Lightroom Preset

When i’m working on images for publishing to my Behance portfolio, I always look for consistency and speed in the post processing. One way that I usually to achieve this is to use or create or modify a preset based on the look of the images within the story that I would like to tell, then apply this to all images and fine tune as appropriate. This blog post will show how to create your own preset, but also how to use it and share with others.

Let us take this starting image that is a RAW file straight out of the camera.

 

The final image, after a little bit of tweaking in the Develop module, it’s looking as I would like it to.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 16.54.12

 

Modifications are all in Lightroom and consist of the following :-

Basic panel 

-Reduce the highlights slider to recover any highlight information.

– Open the Shadows to reveal more shadow detail and allow for more precise black clipping (using the Black point slider)

– Set the White point, Black and clarity to give a more contrasty image.

– There is also a crop applied as well

Tone Curve

– Small ‘S’ curve adjustment applied

Detail / Sharpening

Sharpen is always subjective, but i’ve found these settings are fairly good for my style and how I want to process these images.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 16.52.56

Effects

I like to add a very light vignette and some grain to the final image, just to keep the viewer in the image and add a little bit of grit.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 17.12.25

Now that the development configuration is set up, it’s time to save it as a preset.

To do this, head to the Lightroom menu bar and choose Develop / New Preset. A dialog box will open. At this point give the preset a name and choose the items that are to be stored as part of the preset. Notice that not all are selected, only the items that i would like to replicate across other images in this series (I have refrained from turning on the auto upright, as it will apply to app and may cause me more work later)

This preset will reside under the User Presets and can be selected at anytime from there. To apply to the rest of the images, just select the ones required and select it. In the example below, I selected the folder of 300 images and pressed CMD/CTRL (PC) and A to select them all.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 17.46.40

Once the images have been selected, a right click on one image and select the ‘Develop/User Preset’ and select the preset that has been saved previously. The Development preset will be applied to the rest of the images.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 17.53.36 copy

Each image can then be fine tuned from this base preset.

If the preset is to strong in certain areas, then it can be updated. To update it, modify the development settings then update the preset by applying a right click to it and selecting ‘update with current settings’.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 18.09.29 copy

You can re-apply the preset all of the previous files as well (this is handy for tuning the preset), by re-selecting them and choosing Develop settings as above.

Before

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 18.22.45

After

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 18.19.17

To share the preset with others, you will need to open the Lightroom presets folder, accessed by Lightroom Preferences.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 18.25.51 copy

On the Mac (PC should be similar). Just copy / zip up and send to another Lightroom user and they can put it in the same place, then restart Lightroom.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 18.31.01 copy

 

I hope you have fun working with presets and discover unique looks to your selecting of images. Of course, the development adjustments are all non destructive and can be removed if/when required.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#CreativeFriday – Lightroom and Photoshop RAW Workflow Colour Space and Bit Depth Tips

As photographers we always want to be working on our images, with the highest quality settings possible. A natural starting point for Photographers is Lightroom and one of the key benefits is that it manages our images for us and makes our life really simple.

Lightroom Workflow

When a RAW file is imported into Lightroom and worked on, not only are we working with the RAW data within a natural non destructive workflow, but also in the largest colour space possible, known as ProPhotoRGB (ProPhotoRGB is larger than AdobeRGB and this in turn is larger than sRGB). Lightroom also automatically selects and works in the correct bit depth 8bit, 16bit or even 32 bit depending on the metadata (lens, image details, shooting details etc) from the camera.

When a picture travels between Lightroom and Photoshop, Lightroom manages the colour profile and bit depth for us, but this is configurable inside the Lightroom Preferences, under the ‘External Editing’ tab.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.00.49

You can see above, the preferences for Photoshop CC are TIFF, ProPhotoRGB and 16bit, these of course are changeable to PSD if that is a preference. The second option is for configuration with other editors that might be used.

Photoshop

There are quite a few Photographers that are using Photoshop or Bridge and Photoshop directly and not Lightroom. In this case, the RAW files will be opened using the Adobe Camera Raw plugin and they can have the same settings applied (as with Lightroom). Once the settings have been applied, the file is then opened in Photoshop for full processing.

I’d like to focus on the way that files are sent to Photoshop for editing from ACR. when opening RAW files direct in Photoshop, the following screen might be familiar. At the bottom of the screen (marked in Red) is a hyperlink, with some data displayed. This data tells Photoshop the colour space, bit depth and resolution that should be used. Notice that on the screen shot below, the settings are configured to be sRGB, 8bit and 300ppi. Ideally when working with images in Photoshop, a higher resolution can be beneficial. So in this case, i’d like to make sure that Photoshop opens the file as ProPhotoRGB and 16bit (the same as Lightroom’s default configuration) . To do this, and configure the settings, click on the hyperlink, marked in red.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.11.49

Once clicked, the following screen should appear, showing the colour space, bit depth, as well as an option to open in Photoshop as a Smart Objects.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.09.20To make sure that every time an image is opened in Photoshop in the desired colour space and bit depth, a custom preset can be created.

By selecting the preset combo box, the ‘New Workflow Preset’ can be chosen (marked in Red). This opens a dialog box asking for a meaningful name, i’ve called mine ProPhotoRBG 16bit. Press OK.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.09.20 v2

At this point the presets can be chosen. In the example below i’ve chosen the ProPhotoRGB and 16bits per channel, as well as always open using Smart Objects in Photoshop (Smart Objects enables a non destructive workflow. Smart Objects allows any edits made in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) re-editable directly inside Photoshop if required, even after adjustment and other layers have been added to the re-touch).

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.18.05

When changes have been made, the preset can be updated by choosing ‘Update’ from the preset combo box (marked Red below). The current profile will now be used inside Photoshop.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.26.45

Once in Photoshop, you will be able to confirm the changes. The data marked in Red shows the bit depth of the image (top = 8bit and bottom = 16bit). Also, the file is twice as large (marked in Yellow).

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 18.18.57If you are working direct in Photoshop, just check your settings to make sure you are taking advantage of the largest colour space, and maximum bit depth that is required. (Remember 32 bit is useful for HDR images, not single 14-16bit images, which is typically from a modern day camera).

 

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#CreativeFriday – Lightroom Tone Curve & Target Adjustment Tool

Today’s post is just to show a quick re-touch on an image. The objective is to give the image some punch and presence, but not to over work the image. My personal image post processing is always kept to a minimum, a bit like a quick mid week supper, something that can be achieved in under 20minutes.

The image that we will be looking is a simple shot that I took in China a few years ago. I really like the playfulness of the scene, as well as the interaction with the girls on this bench, they really moved fast to stop their faces being seen by the lens.

The first part of the process is to work the basic panel, with the objective to just to expand the histogram, open the highlights and shadows and generally tighten up the image as a base for the next adjustments using the white and black points.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.23.17

The next process is just to apply the Lens Corrections, based on the lens used for this shot. These settings are found under the Lens Corrections tab (marked in red), and is as simple as selecting and enabling the Profile Corrections check box (more details are covered in this post, as well as automating this on an image import). I pretty much always turn on the Chromatic Aberration, just to give the image a once over and remove any simple basic fringing issues.

The image above is slightly slanted on the bricks behind the girls, so i’ve just added an Auto upright to correct this part of the image.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.23.28

Actually, I really like the image out of the camera, so I don’t think there is a lot of work to get this to it’s final state. A classic technique that can be applied here, is to apply an ‘S’ tone curve. The ‘S’ curve is quite simple, it’s a darkening of the shadows, and a lift on the highlight and maybe a lift in the middle grey area. This ‘S’ curve will give a bit of contrast to the image and give provide punch for the viewer.

For this, i’ll take advantage of the Target Adjustment Tool (TAT) on the Tone Curve. The TAT tool is found on the top left of the Tone Curve panel (marked in red below). The TAT tool below is in the off state. To turn it on, just click it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.23.39

Once clicked the TAT tool will highlight white (marked red below) and the mouse pointer will change to the TAT tool. The beauty of using the TAT tool, as opposed to moving the tone curve manually, is that you can hover over an area on the image and it’s tonal value will automatically represent itself on the actual Tone Curve. As the TAT tool is moved around the image, it’s relative point will be represented on the tone curve, showing you where in the image the tone lies. This will allow you to select and see the areas that need to be adjusted.

There are two points that i am looking for which will create the ‘S’ curve. The yellow marked area is a shadow/dark tone and by holding a right click on the mouse (or digital stylus like a Wacom pen) and dragging this downwards with the mouse, will pull the shadow area down on the curve and will affect the image at the same time (increasing contrast). The other part of the image to modify and increase in value is the highlight area, for this i’ve chosen quite a bright white area (marked in purple below), and increased this using the mouse or the pen, as described previously.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.24.19_v2

Once these two modification points have been applied the curve will look similar to the one below. If a point needs removing, a right click on the curve will bring up the fly out menu which allows you to remove the point (one by one), or to flatten the curve and remove all points.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.24.19

Previewing the before and after adjustment of the Tone Curve, is done by turning off this panels adjustment. This is done by clicking on the switch marked in yellow below on the Tone Curve panel (this switch is available one most of the panels, and works in the same way).

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.24.56 copyThe majority of the tonal work to the image has been achieved by just applying an ‘S’ curve. There are a few other things to complete which will add some more interest and keep the viewer focused on the picture.

The way my eye works is that it’s attracted to bright areas in the image and repelled from the darker areas. Old master printers would often add an edge burn to the image, as this will repel the eye and move it away back into the light areas. Typically it’s not that obvious on the image, but the eye will recognise the tonal difference, and the transition to the brighter areas will be an automatic reaction. There are a few ways to do this, but the one I’ve decided to use in this image is a Post Crop Vignette. The Vignette will be applied to the outer edges all around the image (about 3/4 inch into the image edges), and by setting the style to Highlight Priority and the amount to negative, will darken or burn the edges.

I’ve also added to some to add a bit of grit to the image by using the grain sliders.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.28.54

With just a little bit of spotting to remove any oddities, like cigarette ends, rubbish, small bright areas etc with the clone and heal brush (marked red below), this cleans this image up nicely and then the post production is complete, and ready for publishing as part of the series.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.39.35

 

Below is a comparison of the before (top) and after image (Bottom)

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 20.40.18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sharpening Fuji X-Series Photographs Using Lightroom.

I saw this post by Pete Bridgewood on how to sharpen Fuji X-Series Photographs using Lightroom and wanted to share it with all of my Fuji x-series readers. Pete Bridgewood is a highly accomplished Photographer and Fuji X-Series user, Pete has independently written a great article on how to Sharpen the Fuji X-Trans sensor images in Lightroom, so if you are a Fuji user, then it’s defiantly worth 5 minutes of your time, you can read the article here.

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#CreativeFriday – Applying Basic Development Settings on Lightroom Import

Recently I have been fine tuning my Lightroom import process. There are always some default settings that I like to apply to my images before I even get into the development/editing process, things like Lens Corrections and basic colour de-fringing. Applying these are not huge tasks, it’s a simple case of just opening the Lens Correction panel in the Development panel and turning them on. Although, some times I forget to do this.

I know that these fixes only it takes a few seconds on each picture, but over hundreds of images, can grow into minutes or hours. This is time that I will never get back.

As we know Lightroom has the capability of creating a development preset that can be used on import as well as when we are working on images in the Development module. This is in fact how image presets like VSCO and out of the box Lightroom presets work.

The use of a Development preset(s) to just apply certain actions/configurations like lens corrections and colour fringing on a bulk import can save us time for each import and also solve the ‘forgetting to do it’ problem. Let’s explore how this can be done.

Creating the Preset

For this Import Development preset I want to be able to set the following :

  • Lens Profile Correction

Adobe takes lenses from the manufacturers and calibrates them for the removal of any inherent issues, i.e. the lens profile will remove any spherical aberration as well as any vignetting caused by the lens. Spherical aberration is an optical effect observed in an optical device (lens, mirror, etc.) that occurs due to the increased refraction of light rays when they strike a lens or a reflection of light rays when they strike a mirror near its edge, in comparison with those that strike nearer the centre. It signifies a deviation of the device from the norm, i.e., it results in an imperfection of the produced image(Wikipedia).

  • Remove basic Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic Aberration ‘“colour f ringing” or “purple fringing”, is a common optical problem that occurs when a lens is either unable to bring all wavelengths of colour to the same focal plane, and/or when wavelengths of colour are focused at different positions in the focal plane’ (Wikipedia).

  • Keep the original aspect ratio locked

The aspect ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height. It is commonly expressed as two numbers separated by a colon, as in 16:9. For an x:y aspect ratio, no matter how big or small the image is, if the width is divided into x units of equal length and the height is measured using this same length unit, the height will be measured to be y units (Wikipedia).

These options are configurable in the ‘Lens Corrections’ panel within the Development module and when turned on will affect the image.

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 14.51.09

 

Before & After

You can see on the left hand side (before) the image out of the camera has some vignetting and on the right hand side the vignetting has disappeared, after using the lens profile correction.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 09.48.32

 

The above panel is located in the following screen shot  (marked in Red).

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 15.00.24

 

To create a preset that can be used as a generic import development preset, the menu item Develop / New Preset can be selected.

The preset will be very stripped down and will only save the options that have been selected (shown above in red). These are part of the lens corrections pertaining to the profile, chromatic aberration and crop ratio (transform), as well as the process version (process version contains the adjustment properties and algorithms (like highlight/shadow recovery etc).

N.B. Specifying an easy to remember name and east to find location (like User Presets), will make it extremely easy to find in the import operation in the future.

Once complete, the ‘Create’ button will save the preset.

If you forget to save something on the preset, you can add it to the development module and update the preset by using a right click on the preset name and ‘Update with the Current Settings’.

Moving to the Import module.

Once inside the Import module the Default Import Settings configuration can be specified on the ‘Develop Settings’ selector (as shown in red below).

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 15.39.40

Once the import runs, each image that will be brought in will have these presets applied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Editing Tips and Tricks – with Richard West & Richard Curtis – starting at 7 pm GMT 4th March.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – Tips and Tricks – with Richard West & Richard Curtis – starting at 7 pm GMT Wednesday, 4 March 2015, at 7:00 PM GMT / 8:00 PM CET

This webinar will look at the Photographic editing process from start to finish when using Adobe Lightroom and other elements of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan.
The Session will dissect key points in the workflow including working with Lightroom Mobile and look how to optimise your editing process. From key considerations when Importing images, to which options make the biggest difference in the Development module. The talk will also look at image Output and Export options out of Lightroom and considerations at this critical stage.

The two speakers for this event will be Richard West of Datacolor and Richard Curtis of Adobe.

Richard Curtis
Richard is a Principal Solutions Consultant at Adobe and is focused on the Digital Imaging Solutions in the UK (Lightroom and Photoshop). Richard is also a Photographer with an interest on street, travel and landscape photography, and has been making images for over 20 years.

Richard West
Richard West was the Business Development Manager for the Photo Markets at Apple for 10 years. Richard then joined Nik Software in the UK and was responsible for the growth of their suite of Lightroom and Photoshop plug-in tools. Richard is now runs Datacolor in the UK and will cover off how Datacolor’s products integrate into the Adobe workflow.

Please register for the event here.

 

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#CreativeFriday – Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow

I had a chance recently to visit the highly regarded Karl Taylor. Whilst on the visit, Karl asked me if I would make a video with him on using Lightroom and Photoshop as part of a re-touching workflow. An existing Lightroom and Photoshop non destructive link has been there for what seems like years, but doesn’t seem to be widely known. However, there are always improvements to be made. With Photoshop CC in the Creative Cloud (also in the Creative Cloud Photography Plan), the integration between both solutions has been made monumentally better. There is now a true capability of having a non destructive workflow all the way from the start to finish. This particular workflow includes all Photoshop Filters and lots of other features being made available to the Smart Object Technology (including, my favourite, the Camera Raw filter, which adds all of Camera RAW/Lightroom functionality as a single Non Destructive filter).

This workflow enhancement allows you to make edits at any point in time even if your image is ready to go and all sharpened. It also enables you to save the PSD or TIFF and come back to it in the future without having to flatten the image or place layer stamps inside the layer’s palette (of course you may still need some external disks like the G-Tech ones to cater for the extra space that you might need). You may be asking by G-Tech, well they are in all seriousness the most robust drive i’ve ever used, i’ve not had one die or crash on me yet and they get thrown around all of the time, even on Photography adventures).

This video and can be seen below, enjoy!

To see more of Karl’s video you can find his channel here, other Photoshop, Lightroom or 3D content are also available on my channel.

If you are curious about the Create Cloud Photography Plan, there are details here.

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#CreativeFriday – Using Photoshop blending options to ‘Knock Out’, and cut out 2D shapes for 3D composites

Working with Tony Harmer this week, we encountered a Photoshop challenge which took us a while to bottom out. However, we haphazardly stumbled on another way to cut 2D shapes out from other layers and keep control of shape measurements.

There are currently many ways to cut out shapes in Photoshop, either using Layer Masks, Vector Masks, Clipping Masks, or using the subtract/exclude commands etc. The objective of this particular solution is another way to control specific measurements, especially with 3D printed objects.

For an example let us take something really simple. We want to take a 12cm by 12cm square and cut out a square hole in the middle which is 10cm by 10cm. The measurements are quite specific in the printing process, but maybe required in a 2D design also.

In the example, the new canvas is created, which has a transparent background (This means that later on we will only see the shape, regardless of what we do with it).

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.14.16The next step is to create a rectangle (marked red below) with the rectangle tool. Notice that the width and height of the rectangle are specified as 12cm by 12cm (marked in yellow) as this is a live shape which will give us flexibility and control of the shape.

Now to cut out the 10cm by 10cm square from the middle. Another rectangle is needed which in this case will be 10cm by 10cm width and height (marked in yellow below). The colour of the rectangle isn’t signifiant, it’s just to show it’s presence.

We will use the yellow square to knock the 10cm by 10cm hole in the 12cm square. To do this, we can put a blending option on the Yellow square layer and change the Knock out option. This can be achieved by adding an effect (marked in green) or by double clicking on the layer.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.29.52v10

Photoshop will bring up the Layer Style dialog box and should park on the Blending Options by default (for a new effect), as shown below. On this dialog under Blending options there is an option to use Advanced Blending (marked in orange). For this technique to work, the Fill opacity value will be set to 0.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.29.52v10 copy

If the Knock out is kept at the default setting, ‘None’ and the Fill Opacity is reduced to zero, it will just remove the yellow rectangle and revel what was below it in the layer stack. If the knockout is changed to shallow when the Fill Opacity set to zero, the effect will be to remove the yellow rectangle, as well as removing the shape from the shape below it. In this case, the yellow rectangle will be removed from the blue larger shape and the background will be shown. (The shallow knock out will be one level deep in the layer stack, which essentially means that if it’s part of a group nothing will be knocked out).

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 19.54.23

The effect can be seen above (notice that the layers are all directly above and at one layer deep).

Below shows another layer that is added to the top of the stack, which is also one layer deep. When it’s Blending option is changed to shallow, the effect is the same and its shape is knocked out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is another option on the knock out, called ‘Deep’.

In the example below, there is a lot going on.

At the base there is a blue rectangle, immediately followed by square that cuts out the rectangle, by using a zero fill shallow knockout (as seen below).

Above this there is a group called ‘Octagons’, contained in this group there is another group called circles. Both of these, regardless of the groups and nesting of groups are controlled by a shallow knock out on the blue rectangle. This shallow knockout is at the top group level, so it’s still at one level deep. Therefore everything under a shallow knock out regardless of the nesting will inherit the Blending option from the one level deep Knockout configuration.

The Halfmoon group at the top of the layer stack does not knock out any part of the blue rectangle (notice there is no Blending option on the Half moon group to allow this to knock out at this level). Inside of the Half moon group, there is a small blue circle called ‘Elipse 3′, this shape is not cutting out the blur rectangle, but it is cutting into the pink circle, because ‘Elipse 3′ has a zero Fill knock out layer set to ‘shallow’. In this case the shallow only goes one level deep.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 20.21.32v 11

 

To allow ‘Elipse 3′ (marked in red below) to cut into the blue rectangle (marked yellow), it needs to go past the first level ‘shallow’ and to the ‘Deep’ level. This can be controlled by changing the blending option to zero fill and knock out ‘Deep’ (marked in orange).

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 20.52.21

Ultimately, there are many options for this and many different combinations. i.e. You can have a photoshop layer cut into Photoshop layers, Photoshop layers cut into Illustrator placed layers, or even a combination of the above. This does mean that we are able to keep measurements and dimensions in tact, especially when 3D Printing.

Converting the 2D shape to a 3D object.

The first step is to group all layers together using Smart Objects, which will result in a single layer. The 3D conversion is executed by choosing the 3D menu 3D / New 3D Extrusion from Layer command. This option should create the 3D geometry for you.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 21.27.16

To go a little further, attributes about the 3D object can be modifed. By clicking on the 3D object once will bring up the navigation widget. Pressing the V key whilst the navigation widget is shown, will cycle through the 3D modifiers. Things like bevel, inflate, taper, twist etc can be applied to the object. In the following example the front face of the object (blue painted face above) has had a bevel applied to it.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 21.34.28The 2D shapes have now been converted into a 3D object, all of which are completely editable if desired. Re-editing the object can be achieved by double clicking into the Smart Object layer (Half Moon layer above).

I used this opportunity to make something out of this technique and made a fully rendered scene, the creation (not including rendering) took about an 1hr.

monster layout v4

 

The basis of the monsters were created using a Live shape rectangle with rounded corners, with 4 circles to cut away the bottom. In the example below there is a group called tentacles, which contains 4 circle shapes. The group level is then set to have a fill opacity of zero and a knock out of shallow. This will essentially cut the circles out of the rectangle leaving the tentacles.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 11.03.02

All of these layers are then converted into a single Smart Object by selecting them all and choosing Filter /  Convert to Smart Object (I find that labeling the layers is very useful to keep track of what’s going on).

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 13.38.11

Once the option 3D / New 3D Extrusion from selected layer command is issued, Photoshop will move into the 3D mode and show the new extrusion. To alter the final extrusion, the tools marked in red can be used and will appear as a widget on the 3D bounding box or cage (the V key can be used to cycle through the tools). At which point elements of the 3D geometry can be changed. i.e. the extrusion, bevel, tapering, inflation etc can all be modified to give the final required look.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 13.41.24

After configuring the extrusion, altering the taper and bevel, here’s what the modifications look like

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 15.27.06

For the render and final piece, there are two elements that i’ll add. One is a background, by just creating a layer underneath the 3D layer  (marked in Red), and pulling a gradient across the layer. The gradient tool is marked in yellow, and uses the foreground / background (marked in green) to construct an initial gradient (marked in blue). This layer isn’t locked, so can be transformed and scaled to make sure that it fits the scene.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 15.31.01

 

To render the scene and get a more realistic look, Image based lights can be used (IBL). The Photoshop team have created some IBL’s for you and are available here. From here you can download the creative and basic IBL’s just to get you started. An IBL will allow the renderer to give a more realistic look and feel.

The basic IBL’s ones are just black to white gradients, which hold back light in specific regions. However, the creative one’s are more complex and have the feel of a real studio with soft boxes etc.

To add an IBL to the scene, open the 3D panel using Window / 3D, and select the environment (marked in blue below). This will open the properties panel for this object, from here the IBL check box should be ticked on. Assuming it is on, the IBL that is currently being used is show in the small thumb nail next to it (marked in red). To replace the default IBL, click on the folder icon (marked in green) and replace it’s contents with the IBL (marked in red). The file dialog box is shown, and the one i’ve selected for this exercise is shown in pink (the IBL graphic is shown in yellow). Once this is added the scene lights can be moved around (as well as other lights that are having an impact on the scene.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 15.43.35

A reflection can be added if required, by using the reflection option and opacity on the environment properties (marked red below).

The final activity is to render the scene. This can be performed by clicking on the render option, which can be found in numerous places inside the 3D environment in Photoshop (marked in red below).

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 15.57.06

 

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas of how to use 2D shapes and cut outs within 3D composites in Photoshop. The Final Behance page is here.

 

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#CreativeFriday – Photoshop, Pressure Sensitivity for Opacity Control and Wacom Tablets

The Wacom tablet is a highly useful hardware device for working with and retouching photographic imagery, as well as video and 3D. Photoshop has inbuilt support for the Wacom tablet, regardless of it’s a Intuous Pro, Cintiq or a Bamboo tablet and pen combinations. This post will look at understanding the effect of using pressure for opacity control within Photoshop for any of your art work.

Within Photoshop there is support for the tablet and pen within a large number of the standard tools, some of these are :-

Spot Healing Tool, Healing Brush, Brush Tool, Pencil Tool, Colour Replacement, Mixer Brush, Clone Stamp, Pattern Stamp, as well as many other tools.

Within these tools the are a number of items to consider, this post will focus on the opacity control, marked in red below and how this can be used for other configurations (including pen and tablet usage).

 Fig 1.0

When this option is selected the Wacom tablet can be used to control the amount of pressure that will be used to control the opacity of the tool action that is used (N.B. pressure cannot be simulated with a traditional mouse).

To understand how this works, the brush properties can be viewed easily, this is available by clicking the brush presets, marked in yellow.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.07.22_1

The brush presets properties dialog box will be opened.  There are two components working here. When the brush opacity button is turned on ( showed marked in red in fig 2.0), the transfer check box (as shown in Red below) should automatically turn on. Clicking on the Transfer text, will open up the Transfer properties options.

When the brush opacity is turned on, the opacity jitter value will be automatically set to pen pressure on the control property. This is the default option which cannot be changed and will control the opacity that is applied via the tool that is being used. Turning the pressure button on will reset the whole panel of the transfer only, and will not affect the other options that are available on the brush. This means that other options can be modified and used on a tablet or mouse combination (the mouse cannot control any pen pressure) as a configurable option.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.18.09

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.27.00

 Fig 2.0

When the tablet opacity button is turned off (in Fig 1.0), the brush will return back to the original values before the tablet opacity pressure control was turned on. This means that changing the values in the brush from the default values that come with Photoshop upon initial installation can be changed and modified to your working environment.

One incredibly useful update made to Photoshop CC  was the colour coding to brush presets and if any changes have been made to the original values. This can be found by pressing the Brush Presets button (marked in yellow) and is also available on the brush properties panel (above brush presets button).

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.18.09_3

If the brush is using the default values then it will a blue box around it on the brush presets panel, as shown below

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.50.43

Any changes that have been made to the brush will turn the box to orange

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.52.48

Of course it takes time to configure the brushes and how they work within your environment, and saving this time will be advantageous for many reasons. one, might be to allow a smooth workflow between different environments. It used to be challenging to get the brushes in sync with a second machine (if one is being used). The Creative Cloud solves this problem, by enabling brushes as well as other items to the synced to the Creative Cloud for storage and sharing to other environments that you maybe utilising.

The Sync Settings dialog can be found under Photoshop preferences, under the Sync Settings options. As you can see below, all settings have been uploaded (these are described and can be individually selected) and are now available to other computers. The upload and download buttons are used to sync the settings.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 19.57.04

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