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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.
Now that we are in Photoshop, that is now that we have performed our initial tone and color adjustments, whether in Camera RAW or in Photoshop, we are ready to hit the next stage of our workflow, which is retouching. Retouching includes things like spot removal, which you probably already did in Camera RAW, but what we're going to talk about here is actually changing the content of an image to a more extreme degree. We do retouching now, after our tone and content adjustments, because this is kind of the next line of deciding whether the image is a keeper. If we can not pull off the retouching, we may to abandon the image.
If it's a very, very, very complex retouching, you may want to do that before you do any other tone or color adjustments, because if you can't pull it off, you may need to get rid of the image. This image doesn't need a huge amount of retouching. It's just there is this little telephone wire up here, which I couldn't get rid of. And now when I look, I also see there are some dust spots that I missed before. I think those are dust spots. I am going to move my window around, yeah they are not on my monitor, and I am going to zoom in. Even if they are birds or something, I don't want them in there, no those are dust spots. Okay. So I didn't get these in Camera RAW, so I need to take them out in Photoshop, which is very easy to do over here on the left, the Spot Healing Brush tool which is this old band-aid with a little dotted circle next to it, and this works just like it did in Camera RAW.
I need to set my Brush Size to be a little bit bigger than the spot, and I am just using the Left and Right Bracket keys for that. I just hold it over the spot and click, and my spot is gone. It's not a real difficult technique. It's just clicking, so you push the mouse button down and then let it go. Photoshop is sampling pixels from the surrounding area and basically copying them into that area where I clicked, and then doing some tonal adjustments to make sure everything blends together. So the next concern would be this telephone wire here.
There are a lot of ways I could get rid of this. I could get rid of this with the Healing Brush tool. I could get rid of this with the Rubber Stamp tool. These are all perfectly viable ways, but they are just not nearly as cool as the new Content Aware Fill Option in CS5. So I am going to choose that for this particular instance. I am just grabbing the Lasso tool. Actually, I don't even have to use the Lasso tool. That's even more complex than I need. I am going to grab the Marquee tool and just drag a box around the area that I want to fix. Then I am going to go up here to Edit and choose Fill.
I can also do Shift+F5, and by default, now, Fill comes in with the Contents Area filled to Content Aware as opposed to foreground and background color, or any of these other options. Content Aware Fill is going to try to fill the selected area with content that is appropriate for that particular area, and it's going to do that by analyzing the image data around this area and then building new content that's appropriate. So I am going to hit OK, and there we go. My edit is done. I am going to deselect that, so I can see, and it did a great job.
It filled that with appropriate sky, and you may think well that's no big deal. That's just gray, but as we'll see later, Content Aware Fill can do some very, very sophisticated filling, in very complex content. So that's probably all the adjustment that this image needs. I could, of course, go nuts and add more flowers, take flowers away, so on and so forth. Instead, I am just going to be done with this image, and save it. So I am going to go to File and choose Save. I can Save this out wherever I want. I am going to put it in the Exercises Folder, alongside my other images, and I am going to call it Flowers, which is the name of my Raw file.
I am going to give it a psd extension, Photoshop document, and I am going to make sure that I am set for Photoshop. I want to use a lossless format. That's going to be Photoshop or TIFF, not JPEG. If I ever need a JPEG file, I'll write one out separately, but I want to preserve as much image quality as I can, so I am going to save that as a JPEG file. Now I will have the RAW file and the Photoshop file. If I want to do any additional editing to this image later, I will do that editing to the Photoshop file because the Photoshop document is now the most current version.
It's the one that's been retouched. Let's look at another example. You should have Tehachapis.jpeg. It's a JPEG image. We looked at this image a little bit before. This image has this telephone pole in it right here that just really bugs me. There is a good change that no else would have noticed it. So you probably, in those situations, shouldn't go around and going, oh look at that telephone pol,e because there is a good chance that other people wouldn't notice that. I just don't like that it breaks up the line of these power lines marching into the distance. So I'd like to get rid of it, and again, there are lots of different options to choose from.
I am going to go with the easy one again, and do a Content Aware Fill, and then way that I am going to do it is I am going to select around this area here, Edit > Fill and Content Aware Fill and select, and we hit OK, and there we go; my telephone pole is gone. There is still this part around here, which Content Aware Fill is probably going to have more difficulty with, because there is that tree sitting right next to it, but let's give it a try. Shift+F5 to bring up the Fill dialog box. Hit OK. I am going to Deselect by choosing Deselect from the Select menu.
That did a pretty good job actually; odds are no one is going to notice that. There are a couple little gaps in here, but those just look like highlights or things. Nevertheless, I could take care of that with the Spot Healing Brush tool. I could also use the Rubber Stamp tool. Just take that out. Maybe I will take that out. So that's pretty good. My telephone poll is gone there now. A lot of people question this type of work in photography, and wonder about the ethics of editing an image this way, and if you are a photojournalist unequivocally, you shouldn't be doing this.
That is a huge ethical violation, trying to present an image off as some sort of journalistic factual truth, after you have cut things out of it is just not right. I am not a photojournalist, and I've been assuming that the images that we are working here are not photojournalism images, but that they are more of fine art images. That puts you more into the realm of the painter. If you were painting this scene, you might choose simply to not paint that telephone pole in there, and for the most part, would hassle you about it. Your job, when working with a fine art image, is to create the image that evokes the emotion that you want, that conjures the sense of space that you were in there, that helps the viewer see what you were seeing.
And to that end, I don't have a problem with manipulating the image in this way to get it where I want it. Here's a more extreme example of that. Here is a location in Death Valley. A storm was breaking up again, bad weather, so I got my camera and ran out, and there was this wonderful location, this turnaround just perched right on the edge of Panamint Valley here, and as I was working up the image back at home, I thought, "This was great. It's just too bad there's nothing here." This is such a stage.
Ideally what would have happened is while I was shooting some aliens would come and landed here, because that would just be exactly the right thing to go in that spot at that time. That didn't happen. And as I was looking through my images, I realized that I had another shot with a friend standing out there, and she was wearing this great red shirt, which really showed up well, and I was thinking boy, why didn't I put her in that image. That's the one where she really needs to be and then, of course, I realized, well I can. So I copied her in there, and it now has a focus up to it. That is now more of a subject and a background, even though the subject is tiny.
Yes it's a manipulation. No, that specific literal moment in time didn't actually happen. On the other hand, this image is so heavily manipulated anyway. I have made tone and color alterations, and so on and so forth. I have long given up any journalistic integrity that this image had. So retouching is just a decision you need to make for yourself, for the specific image that you are working on, and if you are thinking well landscape photography is about reporting on what a particular landscape looks like. Yes, sometimes that's true. At other times, it's a more impressionistic subjective thing, and yet other times with the combination of both, where you want to report on the feeling of the place, and the only way that you can show the truth feeling that you were having there is by doing some literal manipulation to your image.
So personal decision that you will need to make for some edits; other edits are like removing dust spots and maybe even telephone wires are a little simpler and easier to justify.
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