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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.
Well now that we know that we want to convert this image to black and white, let's go down that road. Let's take a look at how we can build up an effect that which has a bit more, maybe intensity. So let's start off by creating a Black & White adjustment layer. When we do that one of things that we'll notice is that the image is pretty bright, there isn't a lot of contrast, yet we'll build that in later. Although before we leave this we do want to experiment a little bit with our color sliders, perhaps brightening the reds just a bit and maybe even darkening the blues as well.
This allows us just to customize the brightness value of different areas of our photograph. Next what I want to do is I want to add some color toning to this image. I want this to have a nice rich Sepia tone. To do that we'll click on our Color Balance adjustment layer icon, and then in the midtones I'm going to bring up my reds and I'm going to bring up my yellows. And I'm going to this in a way where the color is a little bit over exaggerated. It doesn't even look very good. Again, the image is too bright.
If we look at kind of this part of the image we can see that it's just not really drawing us in or at least it's not drawing me in. So let's change the blending mode. If we have a Color Adjustment and we change that color adjustment to Soft Light, what it will do is it will blend that color into the image and add contrast as well as color. Now this is the first time at least for me when I was working on this file where I thought, okay I might have something here. This might be worthwhile. If we click on and off this icon you can see how we have nice contrast and then we also have the makings of some interesting color.
Now we could modify the color further by creating perhaps another color adjustment or by using these sliders if we want it to be a little bit more red or perhaps have a little bit more yellow in it. We can really customize how that contrast and color is being built up. Sometimes what you might need to do with these layers is to lower the Opacity, so here we could decrease the Opacity. Then you might decide that you want to increase it. Again there's a little bit of give and take there. Next create another color adjustment layer.
With this next color adjustment layer you can target say the highlights, so if you want the highlights to have a little bit of yellow in them, to be a little bit more warm, you can bring that color into the highlights. You could also drop down to the shadows or you can make those a bit more red and yellow, have maybe a little bit more of that type of a mix in there. And what's interesting about this type of use of working with color balance is we have a lot of subtle or precise control over our color. Now here I feel like it's a little bit too red for me so I'm going to bring some of that out, maybe bring in a little bit of Magenta.
I like to find just the right color that's interesting to me. You know there isn't correct color with adjustments like this, rather it's all subjective. It's up to you; it's up to what you want to create. Well here with this photograph if we zoom out a little bit and take a look at and I think we're going in a good direction. Here are our overall adjustments in regards to the black and white and the toning. Here's that before and then now here is the after. One of the issues though that I'm seeing is that the background is still too bright. It's also helping me to become aware of different things that I may need to change or modify in regards to other elements of the frame.
In particular, the background, I also know that I now need to add some film grain. I also want to add some texture and then perhaps retouch a few other areas of the photograph. As you retouch or work on your pictures, it really is an interesting or almost experimental process. As we take one step we realize that we need to then take another. Well let's continue to work on this image and we'll pick up where we've left off here in the next movie.
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