Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Dodging and burning to enhance separation, part of Exploring Composition in Photography.
- As we continue on with our quest for compositional excellence through image editing. In this chapter, I'd like to show you how to do some of the same things with a little bit more precision and control that we did in Lightroom, using Photoshop. I'm gonna access Photoshop through Lightroom, however. Lightroom is an all-in-one tool that allows you to manage your images. I use Lightroom for a lot of my image editing, but for really specific stuff, like we're about to do here, I go to Photoshop. Rather than going directly through Photoshop, I'm gonna click on my image that I've got here, I'm gonna choose Edit In, and then Photoshop.
If I'd already been editing the image in Photoshop, I might just edit the original. Let me show you what happens when you edit a copy. I'm gonna click Edit, and Edit a Copy. When we go back to Lightroom, you see it automatically makes a copy of the image. when you do it this way, it'll add this Photoshop copy to your Lightroom catalog, so you'll automatically have access to it through Lightroom, so it's very, very handy. In this case, when we're working in Photoshop, I recommend making masks. Just to save a little bit of time, I've created a couple of masks.
One for the mushroom and one for the background, as you see here in the Channels panel. We're just gonna load those in. I'm gonna go cmd + opt + 7 to load the mask into the image from the Channels panel. Then, once I load the mask, I'm gonna come over here and choose Curves, curves adjustment layers, because this is the tool that gives you the most control over your tonal distribution. The beauty of doing this is couple-fold. First of all, when you make a selection first and then create an adjustment layer, it automatically creates a layer mask, which will then apply any adjustments that you make to the curve, just to that area of the image.
In this case, if I take the middle of my curve and I pull it down like this. Notice how it's darkening my image. You can darken it as much as you want, I say be cautious with how much you're doing it, because it's really easy to make things look unnatural. We do want to darken the background and lighten the foreground to improve the overall separation of this image. I'm just gonna pull it down to the middle, just to darken that background. Okay, then I go back to my background image and I'm gonna load the mushroom, cmd + opt + 6 to load the mushroom. Again, I'm gonna make a curves adjustment layer.
By the way, I like to label these. That way, later on, whenever I come back to this, it doesn't take me a half-an-hour to figure out what the heck I've done with what tool. Alright, we'll go to the mushroom. I'm using the histogram to help guide me, here. Notice that there's almost no data between the highlight and the midtone, which is why the mushroom is kind of dark. I'm just gonna start this by pulling the highlight slider up a little bit. You can overdo it, you can go far and make it look too unnatural, so I'm gonna move it about here, to about the edge of the quarter-tone.
Then, I'm gonna just overall lighten this image a little bit. Notice that the mushroom looks a little bit flat. I'm gonna take the three-quarter tone and I'm gonna pull it down, just to darken a little bit. And take the quarter tone and pull it up a little bit, just give me a little bit more contrast. Again, a little bit goes a long way, here. The beauty here, is that you can affect very specific portions of your images based upon masks that you can load, and they're completely non-destructive, and if any point you come in and you decide, "Oh, I'd like to do it differently, "or change the way the background "or the foreground looks." You can do that very quickly and easily.
After I've finished creating my adjustment layers, one of the things I like to do is select my adjustment layers and then come up to the Layers panel, the menu here, and choose New Group From Layers, and call this the Adjustments Layers. Put all of those in one, little layer group, AKA folder, in our Layers panel. What that allows us to do, is very quickly and easily turn off and on to see what we've done. This was kind of a nice-looking image to begin with. It was a nice subject and nice point of view. But boy, you can see what we've done in Photoshop has really affected, a real dramatic improvement in the separation of the foreground subject from the background.
And, improved the overall brightness and contrast of the image. Even better, we've done it all non-destructively so we can go in and edit it at any time. Next, we're gonna see how we can add blurring to this whole process, to control, and get even more separation between foreground subject and background.
In this course, photographer and educator Taz Tally details four pillars of effective, impactful composition: simplicity, asymmetry, eye lines, and point of view. Through example images and helpful graphics, the course discusses not only the things you can do to enhance composition when you're shooting, but also improvements you can make using imaging software such as Lightroom.
Throughout the course, Taz issues challenges to help you practice what you've learned. The course concludes with a look at how to critique—and thereby improve— your work.
- Composing for simplicity
- Employing asymmetry or an interesting point of view
- Including eye lines
- Composing in camera
- Cropping for improved compositions
- Enhancing images in Lightroom
- Critiquing your own work