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In Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography, Ben Long outlines a full, shooting-to-output workflow geared specifically toward the needs of landscape photographers, with a special emphasis on composition, exposure enhancement, and retouching. This course also covers converting to black and white, using high-dynamic range (HDR) imaging techniques to capture an image that’s closer to what your eye sees, and preparing images for large-format printing. Learn to bring back the impact of the original scene with some simple post-processing in Photoshop. Exercise files are included with the course.
Camera Raw includes another tool for making localized edits, the Adjustment brush, which lets you brush specific edits onto any part of your image. We'll be doing localized edits like this for the rest of this course, painting light, and shadow and color into specific parts of an image. This is the real meat of landscape photo editing. It's how we add depth to an image. It's how we bring focus to particular subject matter. It's how we take bad light and turn it into good and interesting light. We'll be doing some of these adjustments here in Camera Raw. We'll be doing others in Photoshop, and as we go on, I think the merits of the different tools will become obvious.
This is the Adjustment brush here. When I click on it, as with the Gradient tool, I get a whole new set of controls over here, and I get this big brush cursor. That inner solid circle is the size of my brush. That area will get the full weight of my adjustments. That outer dotted circle shows the width of the feathering, and that's a rolling off of the effects from the center to the edge. So it's basically a blurring, and that allows me to paint in smoother transitions. I can use these sliders over here for adjusting size and feathering.
It's a little bit easier to use the keyboard, because then I can see the actual size of my brush as I go. Left and Right bracket changes the overall size of the brush, and the Feather moves along with it. If I hold down the Shift key while I use left and right bracket, I can change the feathering without changing the brush size. So I can get a full range of brush and feather combinations. Notice though that on the keyboard my feather size changes 10 units at a time and my brush size changes 2 units at a time.
I can get a finer degree of control using the sliders, if I need to. Up above, I have a normal set of tonal and color adjustments, and these are the effects that will be brushed on. This is just like the Gradient tool that we looked at earlier. I can set the adjustment that I want to make and then paint it onto the image. So, I'm going to just dial in some adjustment and then paint it on. What's the problem with this image? I've got pretty good exposure, I've got blacks, I've got whites and yet it's still just kind of dull, which is not too surprising given that it was overcast which I can see, because it's all cloudy.
So, there's no real huge change in light and shadow. Light and shadow is the essence of photography. It's the vocabulary that you have to work with. So, I would like to break up the evenness of this exposure, somewhat. Since everything's kind of evenly exposed, my eye is not really sure what to do. I want to darken the sky, because a darker sky looks a little more interesting and have a little more contrast, and then we'll see where to go from there. So I've dialed in -1 stop Exposure adjustment. Exposure slider is measured in stops, just like the exposure compensation control on your camera.
So I'm going to darken the sky by one stop, and I'm just going to paint a stroke right across here and sure, enough the sky got darker. Now, what's cool about the fact that it's feathered is I've got a smooth blend coming into the mountains. If I mouse over this thing, you can see white, indicating where the brush stroke is, and you can see that it's a pretty even fade around where I've brushed. So now that I've got the stroke in, I can refine my settings. I'm going to darken it up a little more, and maybe increase the Contrast a little more.
I don't want to go too nuts here, and I can also see that I painted right along here, which means that upper corner is feathered. So it's not getting as much adjustment as in here. Sometimes that can be nice because it just looks like an uneven exposure, but in this case it actually looks like the corners are burned a little bit. If you notice up here, I've got New, Add, and Erase. I'm set on Add, which means that any additional brush strokes that I make right now will be added to the stroke, indicated by this little pin here. So, I'm just going to brush into the corner here to darken that up and then maybe along the top here to hit those areas, and I'm going to shrink my brush a little bit and hit that area.
So, there I managed to darken the sky a little bit. Now I want to brush on the flowers, and I would like to brighten these up, maybe even going so far as to hope that it's going to look like a ray of light is breaking through and lighting up the flowers on the foreground while the background is dark. So, the first thing I need to do is be sure that I click this New button here, because I want to create new stroke. I don't want to add to the old one. Now that I've got a new stroke, I can change my settings. I don't want to darken, I want to lighten, and I don't want to go too nuts. I'm not going to do a full one stop adjustment. I'll do two-thirds.
I'm not going to worry about too much contrast adjustment, either. I'm also not going to paint over all the flowers. There is this bunch of them right here that I'm going to try and hit, and maybe right in here. I'll make my brush a little bit bigger, and I want to increase the feathering, and I'm just going to paint some brightness in, and right away I see that's way too bright. So I'm going to pull this back down. I am going to pull this back down. Actually, I'm just going to put all this back to 0, to kind of start from scratch here.
I'm not crazy about brightening up the green along with the yellow, so I'm going to set that to 0 and I'm going to go for more Contrast, and I'm going to punch that up a little bit. Now, we're kind of starting to get somewhere. I'll touch this up a little bit. So now these flowers are little bit brighter than these back here. They're maybe giving me a little bit of a hint of something that's giving my eyes something to do here.
And yet I'm not crazy about brightening up that part. There's a bunch of gray in here that's getting brightened up, and I just don't like it. I'm going to hit the Erase button here and erase that part of the edit, and now you can really see how much contrast I was brushing in there. Now I'm going to switch back to Add, and I'm going to get a very, very, very, very small brush. If you go too small, eventually it just turns back into those crosshairs. So, I'm going to zoom in so that I've got some room to see a larger brush, and now I'm going to go through and just paint directly on some of these yellow flowers to brighten them up, without brightening up all of this gray twigs in there.
In fact, those gray twigs may prove to be a little bit of a problem that we want to address with yet another brushstroke. So let's try that now. I'm going to hit New, and now I'm going to dial in a brushstroke that has no contrast adjustment and some darkening, and I'm going to see about taking some of that down, just to calm down some of those bright gray areas, but I don't know, that may not work because it's creating this area of darkness in there that might look strange.
I'm going to zoom out again in a minute and see how noticeable that is. No, it's not so noticeable, actually. If you want to get rid of these little thumbtack things, I can just switch back to here and see my image. So let's do a before and after. And that's before, and what we ran into here is something that honestly I'd forgotten about until now; the Adjustment brushes are not affected by this Preview check box. I can't do a before and after of the Preview check boxes. The only thing I can do would be to try and undo everything.
What I've done though is brighten up this foreground, darken the background. I've made no changes to here, and I've made no global edits at all. All of our adjustments to this image have been completely localized. I might want to take out that telephone wire at some point. We'll do that later. But this is the power of the Adjustment brush, and its ability to paint tone and color correction into specific parts of your image.
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