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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 we're going to take these stitching skills that we've learned, and apply them to the Sweeping Vista panorama that we shot earlier, these four images that we shot up on top of the cliff. So just taking a look at this, as I did before. These are RAW files. I want to look for overexposure and that kind of thing, any edits that might need to be made ahead of time. I don't have any overexposure problems, but remember, these were shot with a 21 megapixel camera. I don't want these images coming in at full size, because I just don't need a final result that's that big, and because it would bog the camera down.
So, just as we did before, I'm going to select all of these to get into Camera Raw. You don't need to make any edits here. Yes, it's a little low contrast. That's because of all of this haze. We're going to have to deal with that later, but the main thing is I don't have something that I can only deal with in RAW right now, such as overexposed highlights. So I'm not going to worry about that. Instead, I'm going to Select All. I'm going to Synchronize, and I'm going to go down here to Workflow controls. I'm still set on a six megapixel image. I'm going to bump that down to roughly 2, because this is a wide panorama.
I think we have got plenty of room. Hit OK, say Done. Now I'm ready to start my stitch. Just as we did before, Tools menu > Photoshop > Photomerge. Photoshop will activate and take off. I've got my correct images. I'm not sure which is the right one to use here, because it looked like that was a pretty clean pan. So I'm going to leave it on Auto. If we come out with something that's wildly skewed, like we were last time, we'll go back and try Spherical, or one of the other mechanisms.
It's not unusual to have to of little bit of experimentation, particularly when you're shooting handheld. If you were shooting with a tripod, and a special panoramic head which locks down to specific panning intervals, then once you're used to stitching settings that work with that head, you can use them every time. This went together pretty well. I don't see extreme distortion. It's plainly not doing a prospective algorithm, like we saw last time. I don't have something skewed wildly to the side. Each of these images has been curved a little bit.
So I think we're into cylindrical map of some kind. This looks good. So I'm going to keep this stitch. I know I'm not seeing any seams in here. I know I don't want to do any editing of the actual merge. So I'm ready to flatten this image, because I don't need access to the individual layers, which is great. We had an easy time stitching. Now we are just ready to start with the cropping and other issues that we have. I'm going to size this to fit. This is a pretty clean rectangular image. There is problem of it being lower on this side and higher on this side.
That's my fault when I'm panning. I did not keep the bottom of the camera level, so I wasn't panning even. In my own defense I'll say I usually don't talk a lot while I'm shooting. So that was a different experience. But also, I don't really care this stuff is so dark and shadowy. I don't really need to keep it anyway. So I'm going to draw a pan out to about here. As you learned last time, I'm going to be able to cheat a bunch of content back into the image. Now, that might be a little too much sky, compositionally. Well, let's go ahead and keep it. I'm not sure where to crop this right now.
I want to see the rest of the data. I'm going to take that crop, and just as I did before, I'm going to select my Magic Wand tool. I'm ready to do my Content-Aware Fill. We'll see what it comes up with. You notice this time, I didn't worry about trying to expand the selection. I found, typically with skies, that's not really an issue. It'll do a good job of buddying the old data with the new data, and make a clean seam. That looks like I did a pretty good job. Let's zoom in here. Wow! It got the gradient really well.
When you move it, you can see there is a little bit possibility of an exposure shift there, but I'm not sure it's enough to show up in print. No weird artifacts or repetition over here, none over here. So a Content-Aware Fill did a very good job. So now we've got an image. Let's look at tonal correction. It was a very hazy day. There was nothing we could really do about that when shooting. Some people would say, well, you could have put a haze filter on the lens, but this is so hazy. However, haze as you can see, turns us into a low contrast situation.
Well, we know how to deal with contrast. Sure enough, we've got a histogram that's showing low contrast. So I'm going to go in and hit it with Levels adjustment to boost the contrast. I'm just going to take my black point over here. That makes an image that's got a little more pop to it. What's going to clear the haze out of the way, in a lot of cases, is a full contrast adjustment. Now, I don't want to take the white point all the way over to here, because I lose too much color in the sky, and end up getting little washed out. I'm going to push the black point now.
I'm being little hesitant with the black point, because I don't like how I'm losing all of this shadow detail down here. This is looking nicer, and getting more contrast-y. I can even take the haze out almost completely there, but I lose so much stuff down here. I'm not sure it's worth it. But I'm going to sacrifice a little bit of it, because there is another tool we can use to bring it back. This is something we haven't looked at yet. So those are Levels adjustment for this. The next edit I'm going to make is a destructive edit. So, to give myself a way to back out of it later, this is just like what we were doing with sharpening.
I'm going to duplicate my Background layer. I do that by dragging it down here. I now have a copy of the Background layer. These are two identical images. I'm going to go up to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights. Now when I pick this, it's going to come in with some default values that are too aggressive. But don't worry about what happens to the image. We'll back off from those. So here we go. I've got a Shadows slider and a Highlights slider. Look what's happened to my image already. All these shadows are brighter. Shadows is just like the Fill Light slider in Camera RAW.
It tries to identify things in the image that are a shadow, and it brightens them. So I'm going to hit that right there. That's pulled some more detail in here. Now in the process, it's made all this stuff blue. Again, that's partly because the shadow you cast from sunlight is blue. We're seeing a true sunlight shadow, but it's just looks little too blue to me. There is something I can do about that. I can hit Show More Options. Now I have Adjustments Color Correction. I can take some of that blue color out that came in when I did my shadow adjustment.
So Shadows brightens shadow areas when you need it. The Highlight slider darkens highlights, so I can use that. When we brighten the Shadows, it felt like we lost a little pop from the sky. I'm going to darken the highlights to put some of that color back in. That's looking pretty good. I feel like I've lost a little tiny bit of contrast in here. So I'm going to go back to my Levels adjustment layer and boost the contrast back up just a tiny bit, not so much that I undo the effects of the Shadows/Highlights layer.
So just to reiterate what's happened here, I've got two identical layers, except that this upper one has had a Shadow/ Highlight adjustment applied to it. I can hide that. You see the original one. So if I print this and decide that the Shadow/Highlight adjustment was wrong, I can throw the layer out, reduplicate the Background layer, and apply a different setting. So that's not bad. We were not shooting in the best light. We had a haze situation to deal with. So there wasn't a great image to be had there. But we were able to pull a lot out of it, and give a pretty good demonstration of how you put together a panorama.
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