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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.
Next we're going to take a look at how we can make some tonal adjustments using a couple of different curves adjustments, and how using these adjustments to target specific tones, in particular the brightness of the surfboard below. Let's start off by clicking on our Adjustment Layer icon for Curves, and here what we're going to do is we're going to click and drag down our white point and then we'll bring up this area for the blacks and bring down the midtones a little bit so that we have an adjustment which primarily will allow us to darken this part of the image.
Currently it's affecting all of the image. We don't want that. So what you can do is you can click on the tab or on the button for the Mask panel. In the Mask panel, we're going to launch what's called Color Range. Color Range is really unique, it allows us to click on our image and then to make a selection based on where we clicked. In this case we're going to click on the surfboard below. We want to choose a Localized Color Cluster so that primarily it's going to select this area. Now whatever is white is selected.
Next, we can use the eyedropper say with the plus icon next to it and we can click to add more to this selection, so down here I'm just going to try to add more to this so that I have more of this part of the photograph selected in this area of the image, and again, I'm just looking to build up a nice selection of this part of the frame. Next we'll click OK. Now in doing that, you can see that we have an adjustment which primarily affects the surfboard, although it also affects the hands. I don't like that. No big deal, grab your Brush tool, go ahead and choose black as the foreground color and then dial in the Opacity. Here I'll use a pretty high Opacity level and I'll just mask this away from the hands here, because I actually want to brighten the hands, if anything I don't want to darken those.
I want to have focus on those. I think it's interesting to see someone's hands. Well now if we click on the eye icon you can see that before and after. We've definitely darkened that part of the surfboard. You know sometimes what you might do at this step is just to blur out those edges, is to increase that Feather amount and that will make it look a little bit better. Well next, let's duplicate this layer by pressing Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows and then take the layer blending mode to Multiply.
You can do that by clicking on this blending mode pulldown menu, select Multiply which is a great blending mode whenever you want to darken something. Of course right now it's too dark so we'll decrease our Opacity to about 10% or 20% or so and we'll increase the Feather of that mask, and here again, it's just helping us to darken that area, add a bit more density to that area of the picture. Here's the before and then now the after. Well last but not least I'm going to brighten up the hands and then organize my layers.
So here we'll click on our Curves Adjustment Layer icon and make one more adjustment, and I guess I'm laughing there because we've made a lot of adjustments. Invert the mask, press Command+I on a Mac, Ctrl+I on Windows. With your brush you'll want to paint with white, so we'll choose white, we're just going to slowly paint in some brightness here on the hands, draw a little bit attention to that part of our picture. There it is, before and after, and then let's organize. This layer which we forgot to name or which I forgot to name is Layer 1, I'll go ahead and name this bg for background darkening, and then as I am clicking on that I realize it's a little bit too dark, so I'll decrease the Opacity on this layer and then I'm going to organize my layers, so click in one, hold down the Shift key and click in another and then press Command+G on a Mac, Ctrl+G on Windows to group those layers and we'll call these tone and we can turn this on and off to see those overall tonal adjustments.
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