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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.
Once you have a set of panoramic images, you're ready to stitch them into a finished whole. Before we can construct the stitching process though, we need a little preparation on our images. I'm here in Bridge, and I've got these four images that are a panoramic set. I have stacked them, as I recommended earlier, because stacking is a great way of keeping related images together. Let's take a look at them, though. Switching to Filmstrip View. And the Preview Pane, Preview Pane always shows you every image that is currently selected, so I'm seeing all four here. We're going to look at what they are there.
There are just images that pan across this vista here. A few things to note here. There's a car right here. I'd rather not have that in my finished panorama. I could go in with the Retouch Brush in Raw and take that out. The problem is it's also in this image right there, and it's in this image right here. I've to retouch all three, and I don't know which part of which image is actually going to end up in the final panorama. It's just going to be easier to wait and take the car out of the final product. And that's true of almost all of your retouching things. Don't worry about sensor dust in your original images, because if there is stuff over here on the edge, you don't know that that edge is even going to be in your finished image.
So wait till you get the final stitched panorama, and then worry about your retouching. The next problem though, is overexposed highlights up here in the clouds, across all of these images, except for - this one is not so bad. But these are going to be in my final image. The clouds will be overexposed. These are RAW files and when I initiate the stitching process, Photoshop will open these RAW files and process them according to whatever settings sit in their XMP files, just as always. So, I need to go in and edit these in Camera Raw to take care of that overexposure.
The problem is I need to be sure that I do exactly the same edit to every image. Because I've, through exposure lock, been very careful to keep my exposure constant across all four images, but if I edit one image more than another, brighten one image more than another, or darken another image or something like that, I'll screw all that up, and I could end up with bad exposure variation in my final panorama. So, there is fortunately a very easy way to make the same edit to each image. I'm going to select all four images. And I'm going to do that. I've selected the first image. I'm going to hold down the Shift key, hit the right arrow to select the next image and then the next and then the next.
Now I'm going to double-click on them. All four open in Camera Raw, and you can see their thumbnails over here. I can click on an image to view it. So it's now obvious from looking at the histogram, sure enough, there's overexposure. I need to deal with that. I could make an adjustment to this image, take note of the parameters over here. Go to this image, put those parameters in here, keep going. That would yield fine results, but there is much easier way of doing it. And I hit the Select All button, and then I'm going to hit Synchronize, and I get this big list. What edits do I want to synchronize.
Well, I want to synchronize all of them. That's fine. I'll just hit OK. Now, any change that I make to this image will automatically be made to all the others. I want to work on this image because it's the one with the worst overexposure. So I'm going to pull my Exposure slider down, until it looks like - that's pretty good. I'll hit the Highlight Warning button. I don't see any overexposed highlights, my histogram looks clean. That's pretty good. The image is possibly a little dark now.
I could possibly use a midtone adjustment. It doesn't have strong blacks either. It's a little bit low contrast. I could go through here and also adjust those bits in Camera Raw, but I think I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait until the final image is stitched. Why should I wait instead of doing it here? Because really, the only edit in Camera Raw that I cannot make in Photoshop is Highlight Recovery and White Balance Adjustment. As far as adjusting the black point, adjusting contrast, I can do all that in Photoshop to the same end, but Highlight Recovery is something I have to do here and again, I'd rather wait and work on a finished image than working on the individual components.
We've already discussed the Workflow options down here. These control how the image goes into Photoshop. If I brought in a 16-bit image, I would have more editing latitude. So, I think I'm going to do that, even though it's going to be a larger file. However, each one of these pictures was shot with a 21 Megapixel camera. I'm going to stitch four of them together. If they were sitting side-by-side, I would have a tremendously enormous image. They will be overlapped a little bit, but they're still going to be huge, and I don't need that much resolution.
I don't need that many pixels. I'm not going to print this particular image out really really large. So I'm going to shrink this, and I could go down a lot actually; even probably just a two megapixel image would be fine. But just to be safe, I'm going to put it more at about a six Megapixel image. So what that means is my final panorama is not going to be 3000 x 2000; each one of these images is going to be processed at 3000 x 2000. That will make my stitching go much faster, and it will mean that the resulting image will not be tremendously huge.
So I'm just going to hit OK. I'm going to double check now that the other images have the same settings, and they do, because I had them all selected when I hit the Workflow options. So, 16-bit is going to get me some nice editing latitude and the smaller pixel size is going to make things go faster and not give me such an enormous panorama at the end, which would continue to bog down my computer. I'm going to hit Done now because I don't need to open those images. I'm going to to go back to Bridge.
Now let's let it the update its thumbnails, which is happening here. Now, we can see that the car is still there, but my highlights are in much better shape. So, I've done the tonal adjustments that can only be done in Raw. I've kind of sussed out the image and decided, yes, there is some retouching that I need to do, but I'll do that later. There is some tone adjustments I need to do. I'll do that later. I've made sure that I'm not opening huge images, and that I'm working with 16-bit for more editability. Now I'm ready to start stitching, which we'll talk about in the next lesson.
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