End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great

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End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great

If you've been following along in this chapter there's been several videos that kind of talk about little pieces of Camera Raw and isolation. Well, it turns out that you very rarely actually use just one single slider here and one single slider there. You'll probably end up using several of them for every single image. So what I'd like to do in this video is actually give you an example of kind of an end-to-end how to take a decent looking photograph and use Camera Raw in all its glory to really end up with something that you're really a lot happier with. So let's go ahead do that. Here's our file straight off the camera. It's called End to End here.

Again this is a pretty decent image to start out with but there are some issues that I think can be improved. So for instance the highlights are very hot. There's not a lot of detail in the highlights. There's some extra information on the sides that are kind distracting, like the dirty windows and we can probably downplay those a little bit. Through the mid-tones it's a bit flat, and then of course as we zoom in and look at the details later, you'll see that it's a little soft and can use some sharpening. So let's begin by kind of doing an end-to-end workflow. So the first thing we would do is actually make sure we get the crop right. So I'm going to press the letter C for the Crop tool, and I want 4x6 ratio, so I'm going to choose the closest thing, which is 2 to 3.

Now we'll go ahead and crop in a little bit tighter on this lovely couple here, and just kind of downplay the doors on either side there. I'm just going to put the focus a little bit more on the two of them. Hit Return to activate that crop, and this is kind of the final composition that we're going to work with. Next, we want to make sure the White Balance is set to our liking. I'm going to try using the Auto Setting. I'll go to White Balance to Auto and it's pretty subtle but I'll show you the before and after by pressing the letter P. There is before, press the letter P again.

It's just a little bit more neutral. You can see it might not show up in the video too well, but the skin tones are a little bit more neutral now. They're not pink or red. Okay so I'm pretty happy with the White Balance now. I'm still seeing a little bit of detail in the highlights that is missing. So I'm going to take the Exposure down just slightly just to make it so it's not so hot, and then I am going to use that Recovery slider, and on this particular image we're going to crank it all the way. It's a good idea to actually preview before and after every adjustment. That's why learning and using that P shortcut is so handy.

So here I just did a recovery change. I'm going to press the letter P; there is before. I can press P again; there is after. You can see that I'm really starting to bring back some detail. Take a look at the Mason jar lemonade glasses here. I'm going to turn the Preview back off. There it is before, turn the Preview back on and I'm seeing a lot more detail coming in the glass. The arms here are not as hot, toggle that on and off again. You can see the detail there is a little bit blown out. By bringing that Recovery slider all the way to the right, now really brought in some of that detail back. Okay, next. Again the controls are kind of laid out in the order that you should use them, so Fill Light.

Let's drag that up and open up some of the shadow detail. Again what we're looking for is making sure we're not introducing or revealing too much color noise in the shadows. When we do that, this image actually looks okay. So we can go onto the next thing and again if I ever want to kind of see an in between stage preview, just press the letter P again. This is where we started. This is where we're now ending up. It's looking pretty good. But it's a little bit too on the flat side and I think we could improve the Contrast a bit You've actually got two different sliders. Contrast here is overall, Contrast for the whole image.

Clarity is a relatively new slider that I really, really love. It's used to increase contrast in the mid-tones. So overall Contrast here is pushing the darks even darker and the lights even lighter. Clarity leaves the absolute dark and absolute lights alone and just does a mid-tone contrast adjustment. I'm going to go ahead and play with the Clarity slider and drag that up quite a bit, and I'll toggle the Preview on and off again. I'm going to take it all the way up to 51, and press the letter P; there is before. Press the P again; there is after. You can really start to see the difference here in the shadows, the mid-tone shadows here or this building in the background.

Actually, take a look at the Mason jar again. I'm going to turn the Preview back off, turn the Preview back on and you can see Clarity just actually adds a little bit of volume. So it's really a way to increase the overall snap or a pop of an image. It tends to take surfaces that have a little bit of flatness to them, and make them really pop off the image there. Okay, so that's Clarity and then the last thing I think I might do is just lower the Brightness just a touch, just to make it so it's not so hot, maybe down to 40. Then a lot of digital images these days have this really rich saturated color.

So you've got two sliders here to adjust the intensity and saturation of color, and more often than not now, I actually don't use the Saturation slider very often, I like to play with Vibrance instead. The reason why is Vibrance actually only increases the saturation of colors that need it, so colors that are already saturated. Let's take a look at that red umbrella that's standing in the middle of the image here, and take Vibrance back to 0. As a reminder you can double-click on any slider to take it back to its default value. If I take the Saturation slider and drag it all the way to the right, you can see that the skin is really getting toxic and that umbrella is getting way too red.

So it's saturating everything globally. Let's take that back to 0 by double-clicking on the slider there. But now if I use Vibrance, and I'm going to take Vibrance up to say 40, you'll see only the colors in the image that are kind of muted are getting enhanced. That umbrella in the center is not getting overly red because it's already pretty saturated, so it's kind of cool. Again, just toggle the Preview on and off just to kind of see where we started from and where we're at now. P there is before. P there is after, and you can see it's a much richer photograph already. A couple of different things we can add to make it even better though.

Let's zoom in into 100%. I'll double-click on the Zoom tool to do so. It takes us to 100% to her face, so we can actually start seeing whether or not this image could use some sharpening, and of course it does. So to do that, we're going to skip on over to the Detail tab. Let's go ahead and click on the Detail tab. Let's quickly add some sharpening to this image. I'm going to take the Amount up to about 80, and if you happen to know the number you want, sometimes it's just quicker to type into that field, and type the number. The Radius, we'll leave at 1. The Detail, I think the skin texture is getting overly sharpened here, so I'm going to take the Detail down to about 20.

I'm going to increase the masking. Now, before I increase the masking take a look at the background foliage here. You can see there's kind of a grain pattern and the sharpening is actually enhancing that grain. So I'm going to press the P key to turn that off. There is before, unsharpened. There's after. You can see I'm getting nice sharpening in the hair and the face but I'm also enhancing that grain, and I don't want that. So I'm going to do two things to adjust that. One I'm going to increase the masking, and if you remember, if you hold down the Option key or the Alt key and slide that mask over, you can actually get a little preview of where the sharpening is being blocked.

So everywhere it's black, there's no sharpening happening. So that's looking good. It's protecting her skin and it's protecting the grain of the foliage in the background, and that's looking a lot better than where we were. Now if I want to undo the last thing I just did, so that masking value went from 0 to 60, I have my Undo. So I can do Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Preview right now would be turning on and off the entire effect of sharpening. I just want to preview before and after of just that masking value. So Command+Z or Ctrl+Z, there is before I did the mask.

Command+Z or Ctrl+Z again, there's after the mask. So it's a way to actually just preview the last thing you did, that last slider adjustment which kind of nice. Then lastly, I'm going to go ahead and increase the Luminance Reduction as well, just to takeaway a little bit of the grain off the skin and from that foliage in the background. Just a modest adjustment, I'm going to make it match the color noise reduction. So I'll take this up to 25, looking good, and let's turn on the Preview, before and after again. There's before, just by pressing the letter P. There's after. You can see you're getting a lot of nice sharp detail along the edges that matter, and not over-enhancing areas that don't. Last, let's take this back to Fit to Window.

Again, the easy way to do that is to double-click on the Hand tool. I'm going to zoom back out to see the whole image again, and then I'm going to add one more effect just to draw a little bit more focus just on the center of the two of them, and just kind of block out the corners a little bit. To do that, we're going to use the Effects panel. We're going to go ahead and click on the little Effects icon. We're going to come down to here where it says Post Crop Vignetting because I've done a crop that's why I'm going to the Effects. There is a separate vignette control elsewhere on one of these panels but because we've done a crop, we're going to use the Post Crop Vignetting.

I'm going to take the Amount towards the left to darken the corners. If I take it to the right, it'll lighten the corners of course. So I'm going to take the Amount down to say -60 or so, really just kind of framing this image in a little bit. It's a little bit too dark. It's creeping in too much towards the center. So I'm going to take that Midpoint slider. I'm going to drag it to the right, just to open it up from the middle and just really kind of focus on the corners there. So that's looking wonderful. Let's preview the before and after of the Post Crop Vignetting.

Again I press the letter P. There's without the vignette. Press P again. There is with the vignette. So it really draws the viewer in to the two of them. Then last we want to see an overall preview of the before and after of everything we've done. By default when you're doing the preview, toggling it with P, you're only previewing the current panel effects. So in this case it's the Effects panel. If I want to see a preview of everything I've done compared to the original, then I want to go over to the Preset panel. That's this one here, the second to the end here on the right. Click on Presets.

Now that I'm on the Preset panel, if I press the letter P now, that does an entire before and after of all the things that have accumulated up, that came before the Presets panel. So there's the original image without any of the basic adjustments where we lowered the highlights, and made them not so hot and brought detail out, and opened up the shadows and so forth. Press the letter P again, and now it gives you a true before and after preview. Now that I'm done, I can click the Done button and I've got a much better looking image and it's now been updated in Bridge to reflect that that's been resolved and edited.

End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great
Video duration: 9m 55s 11h 15m Beginner


End to end: Taking a so-so photo and making it great provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Michael Ninness as part of the Photoshop CS5 Essential Training

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