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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 have roughly removed that dark line in the background, let's take a look at how we can clean up some of our details and we are going to do this by merging all of the underlying layers to the top, and then by using two different parts of what we're going to merge to the top. Let me show what I mean. Let's press that shortcut key combination which we've learned previously to merge to top; it's Shift+Option+Command+E on a Mac or Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E on Windows. On this new Merge layer what we want to do is choose one of our Selection tools, say like the Lasso tool.
Here we'll add a little bit of a Feather, perhaps about two or three pixels, and then we are going to make a selection of the edge of the head where we have a really nice defined line, and then we are going to copy that to the topmost layer. To copy it up press Command+J or Ctrl+J, that's Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows. And essentially what we've done here is if we grab the Move tool we can see that we've just copied up this little part of this part of our image.
Well we can then use this line over here to create a little bit of a nicer line because our kind of too smudgy or looks unnatural. So let's press Command+T on a Mac, Ctrl+T on Windows, we can free transform that and here we are going to rotate that just by grabbing these corner points. We are just going to try to get this close. And if you move the middle registration point over to the edge where you have some nice alignment, you can then rotate those other elements there as well, and then press Enter or Return.
Next you can use your arrow keys to just nudge this around a little bit to where you need it to be. Now it doesn't look perfect but that's because we haven't done any masking yet. The next step will be to click on the Add Layer mask icon, then to invert this mask, press Command+I to do that on a Mac, Ctrl+I on Windows. Then press the B key to select your Brush tool, we want a nice and small brush so we'll press the left bracket key a few times to choose a small brush. And we're just going to paint in this little edge over this area, right where we need it.
So we're just going to go ahead and bring that into this part of our picture. Now if that line still isn't quite on, as mine isn't, press Command+T on a Mac or Ctrl+T one more time. Make sure you align one of those corners and then just nudge until you get exactly in the right spot and then press Enter or Return to apply that, and then of course you can always just nudge that around if you need to using those arrow keys. And again all that we're looking to do here is just to kind of build up a nice little edge there for that part of our picture, so that that part of the head looks a little bit more natural and kind of blends in.
Well so far so good. The next step is going to be to name this layer edge. Then what about this layer where we merged everything to top? How can we use that once again to fix this area that doesn't have the right texture? Once again choose the Lasso tool and make a rough selection of the area where we applied all of this retouching and press Command+J or Ctrl+J. We're going to go ahead and name this grain.
Because on this layer we're going to go to our Filter pulldown menu, choose Noise and then Add Noise to add a little bit of grain back into this area. Here if I exaggerate, you can see I am just adding grain to this part of the picture. So how much grain do we want to add? Well probably about 1 or 2%. So let's just see, we'll increase this up a little bit. It looks like actually right around 3%; looks pretty good. There is our before and after and then click OK. Again we're just trying to hide our track so that we are not drawing attention to that part of our photograph.
Well now that we've done all of this, we can actually delete this layer that we merged to top. We don't need this anymore, so let's delete that. Let's zoom out a little bit to see if all of our edges and lines look good. So here you can see we have some of our little grain work and also our removal of that background and then of course kind of correcting that line, and it's these little adjustments together which helped us to successfully remove that black line from the background.
Because these adjustments are all similar, they're all details, let's group them together. Click on one of the layers, hold down the Shift key and click on another and then press Command+G for Group, we'll go ahead and just name these details. These are some of our finishing details, and if we zoom out, we can see those are little bit more clearly, let's see. There we go, our before and after. Some really nice detail work.
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