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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 reality of being creative and of being an artist is that you don't always know what path to take. You need to experiment. You need to test out different ideas. So when I was working on this photograph one of the things that I did next was I experimented with color, and I want to show you how I worked with color here just to try to determine if I wanted to have this image in color or black and white. Well before we do that let's go ahead and merge our burn and dodge layer down to the details layer.
So if you click in one layer, then hold down the Shift key and click in another, you can use the shortcut which we learned previously to merge layers together, that is the Command+E key on a Mac or Ctrl+E key on Windows and we'll go ahead and name this details. Next what I want to do is I want to modify the color of this image by using two different adjustment layers. The first adjustment layer that we're going to apply is a Black & White adjustment layer. Now I'm actually not going to convert the image to black and white with this layer, rather I'm going to try to create a unique or interesting color palette here.
To do that, I'll change the Layer blending mode to Soft Light. What this will do is create this muted high contrast look which is kind of interesting. Next you can use these sliders in order to control the values of different areas of the image. In this case perhaps if we want the face a little bit brighter. You can see how I can brighten up those reds. Next I'll lower the Opacity of this because that's a little bit too intense. I just want a little bit of that edge and I kind of like that.
Then I decided to add or mix in some of my own color using a technique which involves using a Curves adjustment layer. So let's click on the Adjustment Layer icon for Curves. Here you can navigate to different channels. The channel I was interested in was the Blue/Yellow channel. I wanted to make my shadows blue and the highlights yellow. To do that, we click on the Blue option here from that pulldown menu and then you can go to the endpoint. And if you click and drag the endpoint up, the dark end point, you can see how I bring blue into those shadow areas.
Next to bring color into the highlights I'm going to click and drag my white pointer, my bright point there down, and what that will do is it will bring yellow into those highlights. And that's a pretty cool and pretty interesting color palette, isn't it? If we click on these eye icons you can see there is that before and then here is the after. Next let's zoom out a little bit just so we can see that in its entirety, again here's our overall before and after in regards to our color adjustments. Now while I like these color adjustments I decided that this wasn't how I wanted to process this image.
So eventually I deleted these layers and rather than working with color I decided that in order to create a photograph which was timeless and which was really strong and deep, I needed to convert this image to black and white. So let's go ahead and delete these layers, we'll click on one, hold down the Shift key and click on the other and then press the Delete key. That was a worthwhile experiment because it helped us realize that color wasn't where I wanted to go rather I wanted to go to black and white.
So next let's take a look at how we can convert this image to black and white, and also how we can add some Film Grain to add a bit of grit or maybe even some depth to this photograph.
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