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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.
As you may have heard it said, in Photoshop, one of the things you often want to do is clean up before you enhance. So here, let's take a look at how we can clean up some other small details. Yet this time let's explore how we can use the Spot Healing brush and how we can perform some healing on a new layer. So let's go ahead and create new layer. To do that we'll click on the New Layer icon in the Layers panel and let's name this layer details-2. Next, we want to select the Spot Healing brush, press the J key to select that tool or you can just click on it here in the Tools panel.
Next, up top in the options bar on the far right, you want to turn on this option to Sample All Layers. This will allow us to do the healing on this layer here that we just created and it will heal anything from these underlying layers. Next of course we need to zoom in. One great way to zoom in on your image when you want to really get to those details is to use a shortcut which allows you to zoom to 100%. On a Mac press Command+Option+0, on Windows press Ctrl+Alt+0. That will take us to 100%.
Now that we're here, you notice that there are some little things that we may want to retouch out. So using this tool, all that we need to do is just click and drag across these, and if you're using a previous version of Photoshop or you don't have this content-aware feature. No big deal, simply use the same tool with it's default settings and you'll be able to retouch these blemishes in a similar way. Now, keep in mind that I'm interested in trying to create an authentic photograph. In other words, I don't want to retouch too much. I want to leave some blemishes in this frame. I want to keep it kind of authentic and alive, and I'm just looking for small little things that might be helpful to remove.
So I'm being careful as I'm moving my way around the image to just remove what I'm calling small little teeny blemishes that aren't taking away from the character of the picture, but rather just cleaning up anything that might be just a little bit distracting. The great thing about making adjustments like this on a new layer is that we can always erase them if we need to. For example, if you click on the eye icon here, you can see our before and after, and because all of those are on a separate layer it would be really easy to modify what we've done. We could use an eraser brush and erase any of these adjustments.
Here I'm pressing the Spacebar key and then clicking and dragging around the image to go to another area, and again, just removing the bigger blemishes. I don't need to get this completely perfect, but early on you just want to evaluate the photograph and ask yourself is there anything else that I need to get rid of? So just make our way around the picture and I think up close we've gotten everything that we need to get. Next step is to zoom out a little bit. Here press Command+- on a Mac, Ctrl+- on Windows and go ahead and do that a few times.
Now in doing that I noticed some bright spots on the wall back here. I want to get rid of those, so I need to increase my brush size. To do that press the right bracket key a few times and then you can go ahead and paint over any of those background areas that you want to retouch as well. I can't emphasize it enough that you really need to zoom in and zoom out on your image, and look at it in different ways to notice different things that you might want to take care of so the photograph will look better. And again, here I'm just modifying a few small areas of the background.
Well, so far so good. Let's evaluate this small step that we've taken here. Here it is our before and after. That may be kind of difficult to see so I'll zoom in a little bit; again before and after. And although this is a small step, it is incredibly important, because this is setting the stage for some of our other adjustments which will help us to make this image really come to life.
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