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In this workshop Tim Grey looks back at one of his most treasured images and how it came to be, explaining the story behind this particular photograph, what his creative vision for it was, and how he achieved this vision. See how Tim applied adjustments like converting to black-and-white, adding a color tint, and enhancing contrast, and how he cleaned up the image to make it look the way he wanted it to. And more importantly, gain insights into the artistic decisions that were made at every step along the way.
I'm very happy with the warm tone that the sepia type of effect has given to this image. And I like the improved contrast that I was able to achieve with the Curves Adjustment layer. I've taken the time to perform some image cleanup work. I might need to come back and fine tune some of that a little bit later. But I'm getting very close I feel, to a final interpretation of this photo. But I do want to add a little bit more drama. And I think a Vignette effect will help to accomplish that. Darkening the edges of the photo will give the image a little bit more moodiness, which I think will work out well.
And it'll also help the keep the viewer's eye inside the photo. There's not really a single object in this photo. And so, your eye may have a tendency to wander around within the image. And a Vignette effect, a darkening of the edges can actually help to keep you focused on the center portion of the image. In this case though, I don't want just a basic vignette. I don't want to simply darken the corners. In fact, I think I want to darken edges and corners, but possibly in a variable way. So I'm going to apply my Vignette effect with a little more flexability in mind.
I'll start off by adding a new Image layer. I'll just simply click on the Create New Layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. And that will create a new layer. I'll go ahead and double-click on the name for that layer and then I'll just type Vignette to rename that layer. Pressing Enter or Return on the keyboard to apply that name change. And then I'll go to the Edit menu and I'm going to choose Fill. And then in the Fill dialog, I'll click on the Use pop-up and set that value to white and then click OK.
Now of course, this creates nothing even remotely like a Vignette effect. In fact, we've completely lightened up the image by replacing the entirety of the photo with white. But I'm going to change the Blend mode for this layer to the Multiply Blend mode, and that is one of the darkening Blend modes, and it will enable me to achieve a very flexible Vignette effect for the photo. I'll go ahead and set that Blend mode and now you'll see that the white disappears, because that white is being blended in to the underlying photo. And in the context of the Multiplied Blend mode, white does nothing. It just simply disappears.
But what I'm going to do now is paint with black into the background of the photo. And as you'll see that will allow me to darken up that portion of the image, the edges and the corners in particular. So I'll choose the Brush tool from the toolbox, and then I'll press the letter D on the keyboard to get the default colors. Where black is my foreground color and white is the background color. I'll then go to the Options bar and click the Brush pop-up, and I want to make sure that the hardness for the brush is set to 0%. So I'm working with a completely soft-edged brush.
The brush itself should be set to the Normal Blend mode. The Blend mode is taking effect for that Vignette layer. The Multiply Blend mode but for the brush itself, I just want the normal behavior. I also want a very strong effect so I'm going to leave the opacity at 100% and I'll show you a little bit later how I can mitigate that effect. I'm then going to zoom out on the image, I want to darken just the edges. And I want to be able to start with a very soft-edged brush, a large brush, outside of the image and and work my way in. So I'll press Ctrl- on Windows, or Cmd- on Macintosh, in order to zoom the image out just a little bit. And then I'll bring my mouse out over the image area and use the left and right square bracket keys, as needed, in order to adjust the size of the brush. Using the left square bracket key to reduce the brush size and the right square bracket key to increase the brush size.
The bottom right corner to me is the area that needs the strongest effect, so I'm going to start off there. And I'll start outside the image with the large soft-edged brush, and I'll actually start painting outside of the image, even though it will have no effect on the image whatsoever. And then, I'll keep that mouse button held down, and I'll start dragging closer and closer toward that bottom right corner. And that will allow me to gradually blend that darkening effect into that portion of the photo. I'll then continue along the bottom edge of the image. And then I'll dip in a little bit more at the bottom left corner. And then I can come back and apply some additional painting there if I'd like. I do want the effect to be visible at the bottom edge of the image. And especially visible at the corners and i think a little stronger effect at the bottom right corner than at the bottom left corner. We'll then continue up the left side, just painting along that edge, coming into the image only as much as is needed, to create the effect that I'm after. I will paint across a portion of the image here, bringing the effect a little bit further in and that will help blend those prayer sticks off into the distance.
We won't really see the end of the image per say, we'll just see everything fading off into oblivion essentially. And then I'll continue down toward the right edge of the image and paint along there, blending the effect into the position where I originally started. And then, of course I can evaluate the result. I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit so that I can see the overall image. And then I might adjust my brush size or otherwise continue refining the effect. I do think that I want a little bit more of a darkening along this right edge. I'm sort of creating almost a border effect for the photo.
But of course as you can see the effect is quite strong. I'm having a rather significant impact on the photo. And I think, as much as I do like the effect, it might be a little bit too strong. So I'll go to the top right of the Layers panel and then I can adjust the opacity for my Vignette layer. I'll click the pop-up there. And you'll see that I have a slider that I can adjust the opacity for and probably right about there. That's looking pretty good to my eye. I do want the effect to be rather strong, but not too strong.
So, a little bit of drama, a way to frame up the image but, not so much that it's overwhelming and I think at this point that's working out pretty well. I like the framing that that creates for the bottom of the image, and then that fading off effect that we get at the top of the image and also enclosing the image a little bit along the left and right sides. And from my perspective, I think this Vignette effect has had the most significant impact on this photo as far as all of the adjustments I've applied. This one to me gets this image more toward that moodiness that I think I wanted to use interpreting this photo. It really makes it feel a little bit more mysterious and interesting, which very well matches the feeling that I had when I originally captured this image.
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