Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Smart Filters: Using Smart Filters for creative options, part of Photo Tools Weekly.
- Hello and welcome to another episode of Photo Tools Weekly. This is the series where we cover all things photographic in regards to our post-production work. Well the topic for this week's episode comes to us by way of a suggestion from Brian in Chicago. Brian writes, "Hey Chris, what's the deal with smart filters, and how do they work?" Well, let's dig in and find out. In this first example, let's explore how we can use smart filters to change the look of this photograph.
Now in order to work with smart filters the first thing we need to do is convert a layer to a smart object layer. And then next apply the smart filter. So here I'll be working with the background layer I'm just going to click into it and to convert it to a smart object layer you can either right-click or control click on the layer itself and then choose convert to smart object, or you can also just go to the filter pull-down menu here and choose convert for smart filters. Either way we'll do the same exact thing. You can see that it unlocked the layer it also added this little icon in the lower right-hand corner telling us the layer is now a smart object layer.
So now when we add filters to it we're going to have more flexibility. And the filter that I'm going to apply is camera. So go to the filter pull-down menu and select camera as a filter. This will launch the camera plugin inside of Photoshop. Now this is different than the standalone plugin, which we've seen previously. This is camera as a filter, which will be applied to this specific layer. Now what I need to do for a client with this photograph let's say as I want to remove the color of the sand, and make the green a little bit more vibrant and alive.
Camera is a great tool to work with color, so I go to my HSL/Grayscale panel and I'll start over here by going to saturation and I'm simply going to remove the color from most of the area of the image except for those greens. So I now have this nice green, which you can now see here. And I can increase or decrease the color saturation. Next we'll go back to the basic panel, and in the basic panel maybe we'll add a little contrast brighten things up here a little bit, and just change the overall characteristics of the way that this appears.
And again we're making really simple adjustments yet what's great about this is we were able to harness the full power of camera as a filter without a ton of effort. After we've modified the settings next just click OK to apply those. Now here you can see we have our layer. Underneath it we have the smart filter being applied. In this case it's camera. As I click on the eye icon you can see the before and the after. Now let's say that we get to a point where we realize that we want to change those settings.
Just double-click the filter name that will relaunch whatever filter you applied. In our case, it was camera, so it brings camera back up. And here I can then go through and make some changes to this. And perhaps change the look a little bit, customizing that or going back to those HSL controls and here we can fine tune the type of green that we have. Perhaps make it a little more like a... I don't know like a Saint Patrick's Day green, or something like that there. Then next just click OK in order to apply that to that part of the photograph.
So as you're starting to see smart filters open up whole new realms of creative possibility. Sometimes for making an effect like this and other situations for working on exposure. Let me show you a situation like that. This is a photograph of my daughter Sophie, and one of her best friends in our backyard. We have this field behind our house, and in this area it's underexposed. I want to correct that and again I want to correct it with camera, but I want flexibility in case I make a mistake. So we go to the layer that we want to work with.
We right-click or control click on that layer and choose convert to smart object, or we can also go to the filter pull-down menu and choose convert for smart filters. Either way it does the same thing. Next, we go to our filter pull down menu and you would choose the filter which we want to apply. Just to keep it simple let's go to that camera as a filter option. In this dialogue really what I need to do is open up the shadows and the reason why I'm reaching for camera here is it's just so intuitive so easy to use I don't really have to worry about other types of adjustments and I can work on my color, my contrast, my shadows really all at once.
And I we zoom into the photograph a little bit into this area of the picture and press the P key there's before and press it again here's after. It's a pretty phenomenal adjustment without a lot of effort. So I'm ready to apply it so I click OK. When we click OK it applies the filter again with built-in flexibility. If we don't like it, double-click the filter name. That will reopen this and then we can further customize this to our heart's content. Next, click OK to reapply whatever the settings are. Now in this particular case I don't necessarily want this everywhere I feel like it's being applied to the sky up here, and it really doesn't need that so I want to do some masking.
So I'll go to my mask and click on that. Not the image, but the mask. You'll see the little brackets show up around the mask. Next, double-click the mask to open up the properties panel, and here I'll click invert. That will hide whatever filter we applied, or filters for that matter. In this case, camera. Next I'll grab the brush tool and I'm going to paint with white there, so you'll want to choose white for your color picker. And for my brush size I'll use a pretty big brush with 0% hardness.
And I'm just going to start to paint over these different areas where I want to paint in this effect. And as you can see you can kind of get pretty creative with this. I will lower the opacity down below 50% to add just a little bit more light up here, a little more transition. But really I'm just finding the best of both worlds. So I have a decent exposure for the background. It was a rainy day. And then I'm brightening up the girls here in the foreground. I'm just going to modify this a little bit more painting with black to kind of darken up a few of these areas and just fine tuning this.
Combining masking into the occasion in order to create a nice look in the photograph. Now when we're ready to see what we have we can click on the eye icon. This was our original image. Click on the eye icon again and we can see the after. Let me zoom in 'cause their smiling faces and the jump in the field was so fun. And again you can see that before and after and how we're able to bring that in. Well now that we've been exposed to this whole concept of smart filters let's take this even a few steps further and we'll do that in the next movie.