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An environmental portrait—one photographed in a setting that tells a story about the subject—has the potential to reveal something unique and interesting about the person in focus.
In this course, photographer, teacher, and author Chris Orwig explores a variety of Adobe Photoshop postproduction techniques that enhance the authenticity and mood of an environmental portrait. Working with a photograph of world-champion surfer Kelly Slater, Chris steps through each technique, from black-and-white conversion and toning to retouching and more, explaining his creative process along the way.
The next thing I want to take a look at is how we can do some burning and dodging with this photograph. In particular, when we zoom in on the image one of things that I'm noticing is that now that the logo is gone, I kind of wish that I had a shadow over here on this side of the photograph just to create some symmetry. Let's do that by creating a new layer, and by changing that layer blending mode to Soft Light, and then by painting in with black or white to darken or brighten. Let me show you what I mean.
Well, here we'll go ahead and click on the New Layer icon, and we'll name this new layer burn and dodge. Next, we'll change the Layer blending mode to Soft Light. Then we'll choose the Brush tool; press the B key to do that. Then we need to change the opacity of the Brush tool. So, after you've selected it, if you press a number on your keyboard like the number 2, it will go to 20%. Turn on this option if you're using a pressure sensitive tablet and then let's choose black. Now in regardless to the brush that we want use, we want use a brush with a really soft edge.
To select a brush, you can right-click or Ctrl+click on top of the image, or you can click from the Tools menu up here, or the Options bar I should say, up here, and you can choose to decrease the hardness or either way, we want to make sure we have our brush without any hardness. Then to change the brush size, you can press the left bracket key, that's a nice way to decrease your brush size. What we want to do is have a brush about the size of this shadow here. Of course, we can just paint with black as it is or we could select a color from our image to paint with as well.
One way to do that would be to Option or Alt+click on a shadow that you have there. And then, to go into that shadow area and just darken it up a little bit more as well. Well, now that we have this brush we're going to go ahead and just try to kind of paint in a shadow. Now, this painting in of shadows is actually pretty tricky. You won't get it right the first time you do it, and we'll have to take a look at how we can modify this shadow, and we'll modify it by blurring it out a little bit, lowering the opacity and all those kind of things. So, here I'm just trying to create a shape just sort of add a little bit of this shadow to this part of the picture.
You want to have really consistent and smooth brushstrokes as you do this, and try to kind of mirror the way that you're seeing the other shadow is in the image. So, now that I have that shadow in, it obviously looks strange and fake. Yet give me a minute. Here we can modify this by using our Move tool. So, click on the Move tool and you can click and drag this around if you don't have it in just the right area. You can also decrease the opacity of this layer. So, we can say let's take down our layer opacity here a little bit.
As we do that, it kind of fades back into the image that looks a bit more realistic. Then we can also blur this out by going to the Filter pulldown menu you can choose Blur, and then Gaussian Blur. Gaussian Blur is a great blur when you want to have something which is a bit more smooth. Let me exaggerate this. If we increase the radius here, you can see how it just really smoothes that out or if we decrease that, you can see there are those original brushstrokes. What you'll want to do is look for a radius which just looks good to your eye.
There's no right radius amount here. It depends upon your own brushstrokes. In this case, I want a little bit of definition, but not too much. So, I'll go ahead and take that to there and then with the Move tool selected, I'll use my arrow key just to nudge the shadow around to try to get that into that right spot there. So that we have a little bit of symmetry in regards to those shadows on the shirt. Another way that we can use this burn and dodge technique is we can select our Brush tool, and if we have a shadow like these on the arm, we can just paint over them.
And as we paint over them with black, what it's going to do is it's going to help to emphasize those. We can also do this with perhaps wrinkles or any other textures that we see if we want to kind of draw something out in the photograph to add a little bit more say, intensity to one particular shadow. So, I'll go ahead and do that here. If ever we want to brighten something up what we can do the opposite. And you can brighten something up by just painting with white. So, after I've gone over those shadows, we'll flip that to White by clicking on that button there or by pressing the X key.
And then here, we'll make the brush a little bit bigger, and we can just add a little bit of brightening to this part of the picture just kind of adding a bit of shape and dimension, and sometimes even drama. And if we turn this layer on and off, you can see here is the before and then, now here is the after. Now, as you make these adjustments, you want to zoom back and kind of see if you're going in a good direction. And I think for the most part it's okay. It's not perfect. But for the sake of the demo and for what we're trying to do at this image, I think that will work well.
If ever you make a mistake, like if the shadow is too strong, just grab the Eraser tool or create a mask. With an Eraser tool, with a really soft brush, low opacity, just kind of erase away part of the shadow that you think maybe is distracting, or maybe it's a little bit too over the top. Well, now that we've done all of that, we're ready to move to the next stage for our progress. So, let's continue to work with this file and we'll pick up where we left off here in the next movie.
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