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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie I'll show you how to take a lackluster landscape photograph and convert it into a dramatic piece of background art, as you see here. And we'll be doing so using Camera Raw 7, which ships along with Photoshop CS6. If you're using an older version of Camera Raw, you'll see a few different options, because Camera Raw 7 features an enhanced development module. Now, what we're looking at here are the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. We're going to be dramatically enhancing this photograph, and I want you to know that I'm going to be developing it quite dark, because I want these words to pop in the foreground here.
If we didn't have any text on screen, then I'd probably add a fair amount of brightness, but I just want you to have a sense of where we're going. I'll go ahead and switch over to the file that contains just the text, and then I'll introduce the photograph by going to the File menu and choosing the Place command. And notice that I've got this file right here, called Cliffs of Moher.dng. So it is a RAW file for what it's worth. I'll go ahead and click on the Place button to bring up the Camera Raw dialog box. And for now I'm just going to click on the OK button. I'm not going to change any settings to start with, because before I do that, I want to make sure that I have this image in place.
Now, I have some specific placement settings in mind, so as long as I'm in the Place mode, which allows me to transform the image, I'll go ahead and turn on the link between the Width and Height values. I'll change the Width value to 44.5% and press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, in order to accept that setting. Then I'll click the top-left point in this reference point matrix over here on the left side of the Options Bar, and I'll change the X value to 0, and then I'll change the Y value to -74.
And both of these values are in pixels, incidentally. And then I'll press the Enter key a couple of times--that would be the Return key on the Mac--in order to scale the photograph. Then I'll just go ahead and move it to the bottom of the stack by dragging it downward here inside the Layers panel. Now that we have the image in place, we can develop it with little more authority. And you do that by double- clicking on the image thumbnail. Notice that because we used the Place command to introduce the image in the first place, it's come in as a Smart Object, which means that we can modify the Camera Raw settings any time we like just by double-clicking on that thumbnail once again, which will bring up the Camera Raw interface.
Now I'm going to press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and drag this Exposure slider over to the left until I reduce the size of that blown highlight that you're seeing in the top left portion of the image, and I ultimately came up with an Exposure value of -1.00, and that ends up creating an even more drab version of the image. A few more modifications are in order, obviously. I'll go ahead and Alt-drag, or Option-drag, the Black slider triangle, and I'm pressing the Alt or Option key so I can keep track of the clipping on screen.
A value of -30 ends up working out nicely. And I'll also go ahead and increase the Whites value. And again, I'm Alt-dragging or Option-dragging the slider triangle so I can watch the clipping on screen, and I ended up coming up with a value of +15. Now, these are all values that are designed with this specific image in mind. Different images will require different settings, of course. Next, I wanted to breathe some life into the shadows, so I ended up taking that Shadows value up to 50, like so. And now I want to downplay the Highlights a little bit.
So I'm going to take that value down to -70. Again, this is going to make for a very dark image. If you don't want to go this dark, then you would presumably take the Exposure value up to something like -0.75, for example. But I'm going to leave it set to -1. And then, finally, I'm going to take the Contrast value up to 55 in order to produce this effect here. Now it's still coming off as awfully darn drab, which is why I'm going to take the Vibrance value up to 75%, and then I'm going to increase the Saturation to 30% so that we have a highly saturated image indeed.
And then I'll take the Clarity value up to 20, which goes ahead and firms up some of the edges. Now, our last change is inside of this panel is to take the Tint value up to +15, like so. A Temperature value of 5650 is just fine for this image. If you want to get a sense for our progress so far, you can press the P key to turn off the Preview check box. So this is the original undeveloped version of the image, and this is the modified image so far. Next thing I'm going to do is switch over to the Detail panel by clicking on this third icon, and I'm going to take the Detail value down to 0 so that we have a little bit of image sharpening going on, but we're not enhancing wormy details inside the image.
Next, I'll switch over to the HSL/Grayscale panel, which is the next one over, I'll click on Luminance in order to make it active, and I want to reduce the Brightness of the Blues, so I'm going to take that Blues value down to -50. That ends up giving us some nice sky action, but now the colors are a little bit too saturated, so I'll switch to the Saturation panel and take the Blues value down to -35. And then, finally, I wanted the sea to be a little more sea colored, so I switched over to Hue, and I reduced the Blues value to -10 in order to produce this slightly different effect here.
So the sea foam looks a little greener than it did before. Next, you want to switch over to the Lens Correction panel and make sure you're looking at the Profile sub-panel and then turn on Enable Lens Profile Corrections, and that's going to go ahead and automatically correct for any distortion associated with this lens, as well as the vignetting. And it makes a pretty big difference. This is the before version of the image. Notice that we have some dark vignetting all the way around the sides, and this is what the image looks like when we apply the Automatic Correction.
Next, you want to switch to the Color panel there, and let's go ahead and zoom in on this portion of the image right there so you can see all these chromatic aberrations that are surrounding the cliffs. You can get rid of them automatically here in Camera Raw 7 just by turning on this check box. That goes ahead and does quite a number. It doesn't get rid of the aberrant edges entirely, but it does leach away some of those aberrant colors. Finally, I'll go ahead and zoom back out here by pressing Ctrl+0, or Command+0 on a Mac, and I'll click on this icon right there, Tone Curve.
And I want to darken up this image even more so that, that text really pops. So with my Parametric panel up on screen, I'll go ahead and take the Shadows value down to -20. Then I'll take the Darks value down to -10, and I'll increase the Lights value to +5. I'm going to leave the Highlights value set to 0, and we end up darkening up some of these shadow details. That takes care of our work here inside of Camera Raw, so I'll just go ahead and click the OK button in order to hand off my changes to Photoshop.
And you can see Photoshop goes ahead and updates the image automatically. Now I want to sharpen the image so it looks a little more tactile. And because I'm working with the Smart Object, I can apply an editable smart filter by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Sharpen, and then choosing Smart Sharpen. And these are the values I came up with: an Amount of 250% and a Radius of 1.5 pixels, I also set the Remove option to Lens Blur, the More Accurate check box is turned off, and I'm just going to go ahead and click right there on that corner of the cliff so that you can see if I go ahead and zoom in here that I am doing a number on these edges, so I'm creating some halos around the cliff, and I'm once again exaggerating the chromatic aberrations.
However, we can address that in a separate step here. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept those settings, and then I'll double-click on this little slider icon to the right of the Smart Sharpen Filter here inside the Layers panel in order to bring up by Blending Options dialog box. I'll go ahead and click on that detail once again and then zoom in on it so we can keep an eye on it and see that we've got all these little blue edges here. If I change the Mode from Normal to Luminosity, a lot of that blueness disappears. And this is something you should do--just by way of an aside here--each and every time you sharpen an image.
Anytime you apply a sharpening filter, whether it's Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen, you should set the Mode to Luminosity so that you're sharpening just the luminance information and not the color. And then, finally, I'm going to back off the sharpening effect by reducing the Opacity value to 50%, and then I'll click OK. And you can see that we still end up with this very nicely-detailed grass. I'll just go ahead and press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode. And that, friends, is how you use Camera Raw 7 to convert a drab, lifeless landscape photograph into a truly compelling and dramatic background.
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