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Bryan O'Neil Hughes is a photographer, a car buff, and the senior product manager for Photoshop. In Photo Workshop: Portrait of an Exotic Car, these passions combine at a workshop hosted by lynda.com and Adobe Systems.
In the first portion of the course, Bryan photographs a carefully lit Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and shares tips for photographing cars. He shows how to evaluate the lines of the vehicle and compose shots for the greatest dramatic effect. Along the way, he employs a variety of lenses and shooting techniques, from macro to high dynamic range.
Next, Bryan guides the workshop's attendees through his Lightroom and Photoshop workflow. He shares insider tips on how to take advantage of the features in Photoshop CS6, such as the revamped Crop tool, the Iris Blur and Tilt-Shift filters, the Content-Aware Move tool, and video editing tools.
I want to show you guys all this stuff in Photoshop, and I want to give you the full breakdown of all these features that are relevant to photographers, and I'm going to do that. But it's tricky to take a beautiful, clean, perfect car, perfectly lit, and turn it into your, here's what to do when you've got bad a photo file, right? But you do, looks great! So what I'm going to do is I'd show you guys how we got here. Would that be interesting to sort of deconstruct this file and build it back up again? And I'll walk you guys all through what I did here, and then I'll show you a couple of things in context, but I'll take you through some of the new features in Photoshop.
So, for doing this, what I'm going to do is I'm going to do it all in Lightroom. Lightroom has feature parity with Camera Raw and Photoshop. They both have the exact same features, they have the same engine, they're designed to work the same. The interface is different, but all of the controls are the same. So everything I'm going to show you here in Lightroom 4 it's exactly the same in CS6, in Camera Raw. I am shooting RAW. I can't see you guys super well because you're in the dark, and I'm not. But just show in hands, how many people shot RAW today? Okay, I'd say three-quarters.
That's great! So main advantages, and I know I talked to some wedding photographers. JPEGs, yeah, you get more space on your card, and the shot looks more like what you saw, and it can at times be more consistent even. The advantages to RAW are that you can adjust the exposure and the color temperature with much more control because it hasn't been flattened all together. The color channels are still separate. So you have access to a lot more data. Furthermore, it's not compressed, so it is the best possible version of your image.
I saw a lot of really expensive toys out there, shooting L-series glass, or shooting fancy Nikon glass or Leica stuff, and then shooting JPEGs. You're losing a lot of that quality that you have in your lens and your camera. So yeah, I'm going to--in situations like this, I'm absolutely going to shoot RAW. There are times when you shoot JPEG. All the guys I know who still shoot motorsports and shoot on the track, they don't have time to shoot RAW. They need the camera to recycle immediately, they need to be able to do big bursts, they need to be able to fill those cards, and later that day, they need to be able to shoot high-res files up really quickly to somebody else.
So it's a JPEG workflow. A lot of people in the press shoot JPEGs. So, quick show of hands, how many people are using Lightroom? Okay, about half of you. So again, for those of you using Photoshop, this will still apply to you, and I'm going to step you through it. So I'm going to open this image here, I'm going to go into the Develop module. This would be the same as just opening a RAW file into Photoshop. And remember, if you wanted to open a JPEG file for the sort of, I think there are ten of you that weren't shooting RAW, you can just go into Photoshop--and it's okay, it's all right! It's okay if you're shooting JPEGs. You can go into Camera Raw > Preferences.
In Photoshop, you just go like this, you come down here to Photoshop > Preferences > File Handling, and right in here, you have Camera Raw Preferences. And with those, it says, Automatically open all supported JPEGs or TIFFs. That's how you get Camera Raw to open non-RAW files. But we've got a DNG here, we're going to work with that. Now, I've got a bunch of presets on the left, and I've got my history too. Every single thing you do in Camera Raw or in a RAW file coming through into Photoshop, it's all nondestructive.
Everything that we're doing in here is always on the original, and it's just a way of us remembering your settings. It's just, really it's a little text file that says this is how the sliders move. There's no notion of Save As or anything like that. So the first thing I'm going to do--which is always a little scary when you get an image looking the way you want-- is I'm going to reset it. I'm going to take it back. This is how it came off the camera. This is what it looked like. So for those of you guys kicking yourself saying my images didn't look anything like that, what's wrong? It's okay, neither did mine. It didn't look anything like that. I shot a lot yesterday.
It turns out something like this which looks kind of hot to me, ended up--and by hot, I mean overexposed--ended up being a good file to use. So one of the things I like about Lightroom is to just dismiss the UI that I don't need. You hit that little triangle on the side. You want to see as much of your image as possible. You really want to look at it closely. If you click on the image, you can come in there and confirm that your focus is where you want it to be. These 5D II files take a second to load. And what we're going to do is we're just going to walk top to bottom down here.
You can use the Eyedropper tool. The thing that I'll tell you about setting the white balance with the Eyedropper tool is you don't just have to select white, you can select--people think white, white balance-- you actually don't want to select white. You want to find something neutral. This shot is full of neutral things. So you can do black, you can do gray, concrete works well. In some cases, the car might work well. But in this particular case, silver actually looks pretty close to what it is but I want to warm it up a little tiny bit, and then what I'm going to do is I'm going to back the Exposure down a little bit.
I mentioned earlier that there's a lot of latitude in a RAW file. You've got three, three and a-half stops in either direction. For those of you who come from the film days, if you were shooting chrome or transparency, you had like a third of a stop, you had to nail it, you had to get it just right. With digital, you have a lot more room to play around. I'm going to introduce some contrast. This is going to make a lot more sense in a second when I start brightening this up. Now, what we're going to do--and this is a huge change in Lightroom 4 and Camera Raw 6-- is we have access to highlights and shadows that we didn't have before.
So the first thing I want to do is brighten a bunch of that shadow area there, and then I'm going to pull down some of the highlights. Now, I'm purposely going for a very dramatic sort of crunchy look to this image. Okay. I'll pull those highlights down. Usually, about this time, I'll finesse the Exposure a little bit. So now, I might pull that back up a little bit. It's okay if it looks a little too bright in the center. You'll see where I'm going with this in a second. Now, I'm going to come down, and I'm going to introduce a lot of clarity, and clarity is midtone contrast.
We used to call this punch. That's what makes it start to really pop. You can just see immediately it's taking on a different personality. I like to use a lot of vibrance because that's going to boost colors without pushing them out of gamut. That's intended for skin tones and things like that. Just to give you an idea, I'm going to zero that, I can double-click it. If I hit Saturation, it's going to take on this completely artificial look. So, what I'll do is I'll use Vibrance which doesn't push things too far out, and then I'll back Saturation down a little bit, and you get just the colors you want popping and starting to sort of get the orange in the front and the yellow lines there.
We're starting to get somewhere here. Now, if we wanted to play around with the individual tone curve here, we could. This part can be pretty intimidating. So, I'm just going to speak really briefly to it. There's a few different ways to do curves in here. You can grab it by points, and you can wrangle it around like that. Now, you guys are probably pretty seasoned users, but the notion of setting an exposure by wrangling a straight line is not very intuitive. I'll be the first person to admit it. That's not an intuitive interface. So, we've wired it to four sliders. It's called parametric curves.
We make it easier, and we give it a really scary name. But the idea here is you don't have to understand curves to use this stuff. So, if I want to pull those highlights down a little, I can just do that there. I think the most powerful way to do curves is with this On-image tool here. If you guys don't know about this, this is a really good one. You just click on this little guy right here, and I don't need to think in terms of highlights, or lights or shadows, you'll notice wherever I'm putting the cursor, it's auto-selecting the right area. So, if I want that really bright area to come down, I just click on that, and I pull down a little.
That's going to do that. Now, everything we do in Lightroom is global. Everything we're doing is to the entire image. When we go into Photoshop, that's when we can do more specific edits. But I'm going to show you guys how to get that look just in Lightroom here. So, I just did a little bit in tone curve. I didn't want to focus too much on tone curve. I do think the ability to adjust individual colors, especially in there, is really cool. It's a fun car to shoot because there's not really a lot of color, but the color that there is really comes through, the red in the interior--I'll show you a shot in a minute--just pops.
So you can desaturate the whole thing and just have the red interior shining through. So I can come here, and I can say, yeah, I want that red to be a little bit brighter. I want that sort of distracting orange in the foreground to be a little bit darker. I want the yellow lines in there to be a bit brighter, and I can do the same thing with saturation. I want that red saturated, I want the orange a little bit, and the yellow a little bit. And if I want to take out, you wouldn't think that there would be aqua and blue and purple in here, but there is in the headlights. There's a lot of that stuff.
There's a lot of weird colors you pick up with the plastic there. Okay. So, we're going to ignore split toning, and black and white, but if we wanted to make black and white, it's as simple as just hitting that there and playing around with it. More often than not, what makes a good color image is going to make a nice black and white image as well. I'm not going to talk about sharpening here. I don't do a lot of sharpening in Lightroom. Photoshop is a much more powerful place to do sharpening. Don't sharpen in your camera. That's all I'll tell you about that.
Sharpening, color management, and a few other things are like politics and religion. You've got to be really careful. This is not lunchtime conversation. People get really steeped in their ways, and then really upset when you start talking about these things because it conflicts with how they want to do it. I think it's pretty safe to say you have more control doing sharpening in software than in your camera. But for now, I'll just leave that. I'll leave a tiny bit turned on there.
I am going to do lens correction, and so let me just talk about what's happening here. So, I'm shooting with a great lens. I'm shooting with a 24 1.4 L-series lens. Not my lens, I borrowed it, one of the many perks of working on the Photoshop team. And we profile all this stuff. We've got all the lenses because we profile them all, and in profiling them, we're able to take out distortion which even in a prime lens like that, you can see, watch the windshield.
There's a little bit of stuff going on there. We're mainly seeing the vignetting coming out. There's a lot of fallout in the corners that we're cleaning up. But we're doing a few things, we're taking out a little bit of distortion, there's a lot of distortion in the iPhone, a lot of people shooting with the iPhone, it's actually a great camera, I shot with it a ton yesterday, but there's a lot of distortion on that little lens. It's trying to do a lot of things. We're taking out distortion, we're taking out vignetting which is the fallout in the corners--which is kind of funny because I'm about to put it back in. We're taking out chromatic aberration, which is a really nerdy word for color fringing.
You've seen chromatic aberration when you point you camera towards the sky, and you see like power lines, and there's a colored fringe on it. You guys have probably seen that before. That's because the information is hitting the sensor, and it's not quite aligned. They're just a little bit out of alignment, and so we're able to remove that automatically. If I were you guys, I would just check this check box every time you pass files through Camera Raw or Lightroom, automatically take out the lens distortion. We're cleaning up a lot of stuff there. Then what I'm doing, and this is really where the attitude of this file comes in is I'm going to throw a pretty heavy vignette.
I'm going to pull it in, I'm going to feather it quite a bit, and then I'm going to back down the midpoint of that. So yeah, I'm in a warehouse, I wanted to feel like I'm in a warehouse. I want it to be kind of dark in there, to be somewhat hot light right in there, and feel like there's this gorgeous car in the middle of this gritty, dirty warehouse. You can go back in, and you can tweak it from there, and every single time I do this, I'll get an image that's a little bit different than the one that I started with. But that's way different than what we started with.
Now, what I'll normally do is once I've gotten to this point, I'll save an image as a preset. So I saved a preset yesterday. We'll see how much different it is than this one. It's hotter. The only difference between that image and the one we just did is we played with the tone curve. I didn't play with the tone curve yesterday. So, pretty consistent. I went through that last night, and I was pretty consistent with what I did today. I encourage you once especially in controlled lighting, once you've taken all the time to get that wherever you want it to be--and you guys might want a different aesthetic-- it's a little darker on that screen than it is on mine.
But once you've gotten it to where you want it to be, save that preset, use that later. It's controlled lighting. Don't go through the same work again and again and again and again. So when you're over here just come in and name that whatever you want, SLS2, and now you've got that look, and you can apply that look to other things. And you might find sometimes that applying that look to a totally different image might give you a surprisingly cool result.
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