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Performing triage

From: Nondestructive Exposure and Color Correction with Photoshop

Video: Performing triage

If you've ever been in the emergency room at a hospital, there's a process called triage where they sort out the patients. In this case, they tackle the life-threatening emergencies, followed by the serious injuries, and then the not so serious. Well, the same general approach can be applied to photos as well, and it's important that you look at your image and decide what's actually wrong. In the case of this photo here, what you're seeing is a complication of problems. First off, there's an easy issue here, and that's composition. I've flagged it with a sticky note, and what you're seeing is that this image isn't properly composed. I'm going to apply the Rule of Thirds to it in a moment.

Performing triage

If you've ever been in the emergency room at a hospital, there's a process called triage where they sort out the patients. In this case, they tackle the life-threatening emergencies, followed by the serious injuries, and then the not so serious. Well, the same general approach can be applied to photos as well, and it's important that you look at your image and decide what's actually wrong. In the case of this photo here, what you're seeing is a complication of problems. First off, there's an easy issue here, and that's composition. I've flagged it with a sticky note, and what you're seeing is that this image isn't properly composed. I'm going to apply the Rule of Thirds to it in a moment.

I also look for distracting elements here and in this case the background is just a little bit taking away from the photo itself. There were some flowers behind the head of the eagle, and the color here is just pulling my eye up from my subject into the background. So I'm going to go ahead and remove some of those distracting elements, both through cropping and desaturation. I'm going to go ahead and tweak the overall exposure a bit, trying to pull up proper exposure here to bring out the feather area in the chest a bit, and then we'll put a little bit of sharpening in the eye region to go ahead and add some details. Let me show you the after state, and I'll just walk you through what was done. We'll start with the base image.

I went ahead and made a basic selection of the tree and the flower, and that selection was used on a Vibrance adjustment. Notice that the adjustment is localized to the image itself. We'll explore these specific selection and adjustment layer techniques in just a moment. I then did a Curves adjustment just to the feathery region of the body, and you see we're able lift out some of the details in the feathers there. Remember, these adjustments are nondestructive, so, you can easily click and continue to refine the adjustment. In this case I'll lift those feathers up a little more, and you see there are the before and after state. I then did an overall Vibrance adjustment to bring out all the color in the image, with no selection applied. In this case we really brought out the yellow of the beak and the red in the mouth, and this is starting to draw the viewer's eye up towards the head region here, because we have a splash of color.

Let's go ahead and make a new layer, and I'll choose the Sharpen tool. I'll use the Sample All Layers and adjust its Strength, and this allows me to sharpen in some of the details around that. You see that can be turned off and on, and it's a nice adjustment there, in that it's working nondestructively. To finish this image out and really draw the focus towards the center, I then applied a Gradient layer. Just using a simple black- to-white gradient. There it is. Changed it to Radial and adjusted the size. Now we put that up on top here and by changing its mode to Multiply, you'll see the whites drop out and it draws your focus in. Now we can easily adjust the opacity of that layer until we achieve the desired effect of a darkening of the edges with a clear center spot of our subject.

Remember, you can go ahead and easily drag that around because it's an adjustment layer, giving you a very flexible engine for creating nondestructive vignettes. There we go. I'll just turn that one off and keep the original one I made, and you see, if we toggle between the two images, it's definitely an improvement. We've cropped for better composition. Notice here we actually have the Rule of Thirds turned on, and so as I adjust my Crop tool it shows me that good composition there. And I've placed the subject at the intersection. All right that is definitely an improvement. I'll put those two images side by side.

We'll do a 2-up Horizontal, and we'll just shrink that back. There we go. And you see that we've improved the overall image. Better composition, clearer center of our subject, a little bit of sharpening, and all the nondistracting elements have been removed. All of these techniques are going to be explored throughout the rest of our lessons. The key here to remember is that you want to look at the image and make a series of adjustments. While our exercises today are going to focus on individual commands, you're often going to have to put several of these commands together to achieve proper results.

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This video is part of

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  1. 2m 1s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the exercise files
      34s
  2. 9m 20s
    1. Setting the environment
      2m 37s
    2. Performing triage
      4m 51s
    3. Getting a fresh opinion
      1m 52s
  3. 9m 33s
    1. Working with a copy of the image
      1m 23s
    2. Converting layers to Smart Objects
      2m 4s
    3. Cloning to an empty layer
      2m 33s
    4. Using adjustment layers
      1m 29s
    5. Creating a new document from the current state
      2m 4s
  4. 14m 27s
    1. Exploring essential raw adjustments
      3m 3s
    2. Opening a raw file as a Smart Object
      2m 8s
    3. Recovering skies
      3m 12s
    4. Performing selective adjustments
      3m 58s
    5. Re-editing a raw file
      2m 6s
  5. 19m 6s
    1. Fixing exposure with a Levels adjustment layer
      1m 41s
    2. Speeding up with an Auto Levels adjustment
      1m 7s
    3. Saving time with Auto Tone and Auto Contrast
      1m 37s
    4. Reading the Histogram panel
      2m 38s
    5. Removing a color cast with a Levels adjustment layer
      1m 43s
    6. Fixing exposure with a Curves adjustment layer
      1m 45s
    7. Refining a Curves adjustment layer using the On-Image tool
      1m 54s
    8. Adjusting hue and saturation
      2m 31s
    9. Boosting color with a Vibrance adjustment layer
      2m 20s
    10. Using adjustment presets
      1m 50s
  6. 10m 24s
    1. Using the Color Range command
      3m 9s
    2. Controlling adjustment layers with masks
      2m 33s
    3. Clipping adjustment layers
      1m 21s
    4. Blending adjustment layers
      3m 21s
  7. 9m 52s
    1. Applying the Shadow/Highlights command to a Smart Object
      3m 41s
    2. Adjusting shadows and highlights in a raw image
      4m 18s
    3. Refining the Shadow/Highlights command
      1m 53s
  8. 11m 14s
    1. Using the Equalize command to fix exposure and contrast
      1m 49s
    2. Using Match Color with two photos
      2m 2s
    3. Adjusting color and exposure with the Photo Filter command
      1m 29s
    4. Tinting with the Gradient Map adjustment
      2m 25s
    5. Blending Smart Filters
      1m 43s
    6. Using color lookup tables to process images
      1m 46s
  9. 5m 14s
    1. Creating black-and-white images
      1m 41s
    2. Combining Black & White adjustment layers with blend modes
      1m 32s
    3. Hand-tinting a photo
      2m 1s
  10. 44s
    1. Goodbye
      44s

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