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In Photoshop CS6 Essential Training, Julieanne Kost demonstrates how to produce high-quality images in a short amount of time, using a combination of Adobe Photoshop CS6, Bridge, and Camera Raw.
The course details the Photoshop features and creative options, and shows efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, the course explores techniques for nondestructive editing and compositing using layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more.
If you have been following along in this chapter, you've noticed that we've made a number of specific improvements to individual images using a single control to simply fix a specific problem. But more often than not, when you're making an image look better, it's really a combination of many of these sliders that will improve the image dramatically. So while we're starting here, if the image needed a perspective or correction, I would probably do that first, but in this case, I am going to skip that and go directly to a crop. So I'll tap the C key to select my Crop tool, and if I wanted to constrain this to a specific aspect ratio, we can select that from the list, so let's choose 4 x 5.
And then we'll click and drag out the crop and then reposition it as needed to just kind of crop in a little bit more on the bicycle and get rid of any other information that doesn't really add to the image. I'll tap Enter or Return to apply that crop. And now let's set our white balance. We learned that we can do that either by selecting one of the options here from the list. We could change the Temperature and Tint slider manually, or we could tap the I key in order to access the White Balance tool and then click somewhere in your image that you know to be a neutral value, something like maybe this gray cement.
And you can see how that really warmed up the image. Let's turn on our clipping. If we remember those shortcuts, it's U for our black clipping, the underexposed portion, or O for our white clipping--that's the over exposed area. And I can't see I've got a little bit of an overlay of the blue here underneath the seat, which tells me that that area is going to go to pure black, and I've got a little bit of red here in the handlebars of the bike. So as I make my changes here, like to Exposure and Contrast, I want to keep an eye on those areas.
And in fact, I do want to add a little bit of contrast to my image, to just make it pop a little bit more. Then I have to be careful about these highlights and shadows. So I am going to bring down the highlights a little bit and that will remove any of those overexposed specular highlights there in the handlebar. And I am going to bring up my shadows a little bit, which will enable me to see a little but more detail underneath the shadow area of the seat here. If I needed to, I could change my white and black point but I can see for my histogram that I'm making use of the full dynamic range of the image.
I've got values going all the way down here to black as well, as values all the way over here in the lighter area of my image. If I want to give it just a little bit more pop, I might come down to the Clarity slider and just increase the Clarity to give a little bit more distinction in the edge areas around the midtones of my image. And if I wanted to increase the vibrance to also make this stand out a little bit more, I can, or if I was going for a more old-fashioned look, maybe I would bring that Vibrance down.
But in is case I think it looks much better with the Vibrance set up higher. Then I'll move over to the Detail panel. You can see here that because this is a DNG file, the Amount is automatically set to 25. If I want to adjust this, I need to make sure that I zoom in, so I will use Command+Option+0 in order to zoom in to 100%, and then I can hold down the spacebar in order to reposition the image to look at different areas. The Amount is the amount of contrast that I would be adding.
Of course the Radius determines how many pixels, when Camera Raw finds an edge, how many pixels on either side of the edge it adds that amount to. And then the Detail will suppress it in areas, because I might really like the sharpening in the back wall, but in the smoother area, like the bicycle seat, I might want to suppress that amount and radius, that extra sharpening there. Then in the Noise Reduction area, because I can't see some noise, especially in the bicycle seat, because remember, in the Basic panel, I was bringing up the Shadow slider, which introduced noise into the dark areas, so I'll want to use the Color option here to just remove some of that color noise.
And then I can use the Luminance slider to remove some of the luminance noise there. I don't want it to get to smooth, so I am not go too far. Maybe 25 will be just right. When I am finished, I'll zoom out using Command+0, which will automatically change the view here so that it is fitting in the window. And I'll use one more shortcut, which is Command+Option+9 or Ctrl+Alt+9 on Windows. What that does is it takes me directly to the Preset panel, and that way when I tap the P key to toggle on and off the preview, it will toggle it on and off for all of the changes that I've made in all of the different panels.
And there you have it. Here is a before, and there's after. You can see that within minutes, you can apply a few simple nondestructive adjustments in Camera Raw to really help your image stand out.
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