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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've applied a variety of different adjustments to my prayer sticks image and even explored a couple of creative possibilities for the image. And at this point, I feel that I'm finished and I'm ready to make some final decisions about how I want to interpret the image. I'll go ahead and enlarge my Layers panel so that we can take a look at all of the various adjustments that I've applied here. We'll start off with the underlying Image layer. I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, while clicking on the Eye icon for the Background Image layer.
And we can see the original image as it appeared when I converted the raw capture using Adobe Camera Raw. The first adjustment I applied was a black and white adjustment. I'll go ahead and scroll up and turn that adjustment on so that we can see the effects of that black and white conversion with the color tint added to it. And next I'll turn on the curves adjustment which was the next step. And then the brighten spots which cleaned up some of the spots that were a little bit dark down toward the bottom of the image. And then scrolling down a little we'll see the various image cleanup layers that I've added. There was the Basic Cleanup layer that dealt with some of the blemishes and spots throughout the photo.
And then the Twig-fix layers which allowed me to remove a twig from the top right portion of the photo. And then I added a vignette to the image and that helped to sorta frame things up and add to the overall drama. Above that Vignette layer, I have two additional layers, the Ethereal Glow layer and the Painting layer. With the Ethereal Glow layer, I've added, of course, an ethereal glow by creating a copy of the overall image and blurring that layer, but then reducing the opacity. And as much as I like the concept of that ethereal glow effect, I just feel that it's not quite working for this image.
I do feel that it makes the image look a little bit more like it's out of focus, rather than that it has that type glow that I was hoping for. And so I think, in this case, I'll just leave the visibility for the Ethereal Glow layer turned off. I'll leave it here so that I can always revisit it later and perhaps reevaluate or apply that glow in a different way. But I think, for now, I like the image without the Glow effect. I'll also take a look at the Painting layer, I'll turn on the visibility for that painting layer. And I do find this very interesting, and it actually really feels appropriate for the image.
The prayer sticks here had the characters painted on them. And so creating this sort of oil paint effect within the photo really seems to make a lot of sense, and yet it still just isn't quite resonating with me. And so I think I'll skip the painting effect as well. I'll leave that layer here for future reference, but I'm going to turn it off so that I get back to the underlying image. So, an image that's converted to black and white with a little bit of a color tint applied to it. Some contrast added, a little bit of image clean-up, and then a relatively strong vignette effect, and the result is an image that I'm very happy with. Certainly, a far cry from what I started with, an image that frankly, was a little bit disappointing.
When I got back to the hotel room after spending a day in Tokyo, and saw the result. The result that was not at all what I expected, because when I took the picture in the first place, I really felt like this was going to be a great image. And so, in some respects, I feel that the process of working with this image was a process of salvaging that original image. Of creating the memory that I had, in a creative interpretation of the original photo. So, to me, this version of the image represents the final.
This conveys, I think, the mood of the moment when I captured the image. The overall experience I had there on that day. And it really has the tone, the feel, that I was hoping to achieve. So, with that said, I'll go to the File menu. And I'm going to choose Save As and then I'll save my final version of this image, so that I can always come back to this image later. This final image, I'll save once again in the Photoshop PSD file format so that all of the layers are intact. You'll note that I have the Layers checkbox turned on, so I'll save that image.
And now anytime I'd like, I can come back to this image and fine tune all of my various adjustments. And perhaps even play around with some other possible creative interpretations, but this then becomes that master image. So, anytime I want to adjust the image or share the image, this is the image that I'll come back to. So that I can fine tune my adjustments or create a version of the image. For output, such as to post the image on a website, or to print the photo. And having spent so much time with this image, really working to optimize the result, I'm very much looking forward to sharing the image with others.
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