Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Solution: Basic adjustments for printing, part of Inkjet Printing: Advanced Photography Techniques.
- Okay, hopefully that went well for you. Before we get started here, I wanna say that this is gonna be a pretty long movie because I'm actually gonna walk you through most of my edits. I'm only gonna do that on this movie. There will be other cases where I'll give you a really granular view of my process, but for the most part, we'll take a higher level look at things in future movies, but just to be sure you really understand the usage of the tools, I'm gonna walk you through everything here. Except for the first step, which was taking out the bird. That's a simple Clone Stamp Tool thing. I did it on a copy of my background layer. I duplicated the background layer.
That give me a non-destructive edit. If I decide later I want the bird back in, I can just turn off this layer and the bird reappears. I don't think I'm gonna make that decision, though. I took this bird out because... without it, these birds here become kind of a single, uniform graphic element sitting right in the middle of the frame and I really like that. If I put this bird back... it kinda breaks up the uniformity, or the simple blobby shape that these birds are ascribing. And it's about to intersect with that roof, which muddies up that line. I just don't like it. But, I've got the option to put it back if I need it.
Also, throughout this course, I'm going to be doing my edits, my painting edits, with a Wacom pressure-sensitive tablet. You don't have to have one. Most of the edits I'll be doing, I could just as easily do with a mouse. I really like the convenience of the tablet, but mostly I'm using it because I have some repetitive-stress injury issues and the tablet is much easier on my hand. Now I'm not telling you that because... I want you to send me flowers or something, although that would be nice. I'm telling you that because from time to time you're gonna see something like this pop up: This is simply a Wacom thing that's letting me change the function of some of the tools on the tablet.
Don't worry about those. Finally, as I've said earlier, and as you saw in the Inkjet Printing class, I work a lot with Levels Adjustment layers. If you prefer using Curves, that's fine. If you prefer using Brightness and Contrast, that's your prerogative. Brightness and Contrast is kind of a "blunt instrument". It's workable, you can use it if you want. If that's what you're used to, if that's your comfort zone, that's fine. I'm gonna be using Levels. And so I have assigned the "Add Levels Adjustment Layer" command to a function key on my keyboard. You can do that by going up here to: "Window", "Workspace", "Keyboard Shortcuts", and "Menus".
This gives you a whole interface for adding shortcuts. There are instructions right here. You can find more detailed instructions elsewhere in the Lynda library. So when I get ready to add a Levels Adjustment Layer, all I do is click on the layer that I want the level to appear above, and in my case, I've assigned that command to F6. I hit F6, I get this dialogue box, I hit "OK", and boom! I've got an empty Levels Adjustment Layer. So you're gonna see Level Adjustment Layers popping up really quickly as I edit. I'm gonna tell you when I'm adding them, but I'm doing it from the keyboard. I'm not picking them from a pop-up menu here.
The reason that I choose Levels is: I love just having this Histogram right here. We're gonna get heavily into editing by the numbers and I don't wanna have to be working with a separate Histogram. I love that I can edit directly to it. With the modern Curves interface, you can do that also, so that's a real advantage to both of these tools. This blob of data is the sky, this blob of data is all of the buildings. I'm gonna start by editing this building here. Now, I don't know where the right edit is, so I'm just gonna start making "some" edit. I'm gonna move my white point past the sky, and now I'm gonna put my Mask in place.
Then I can go back and refine my edit. I have a foreground color of white and a background color of black. If those were different, I could set them to those default settings simply by hitting the "D" key. I'm going to start by filling the Layer Mask on this Levels Adjustment Layer with black. I'm gonna hit "X", to set the background color to black, and then I'm gonna hit "Command" or "Control-Delete" to fill this Layer Mask with black. So now, if the Adjustment Layer's having no impact on my image, with the Brush tool, I'm going to start painting, and now I am revealing the effect of that Adjustment Layer, effectively painting brightness into my scene.
I'm doing this kind of sloppy. I can always go back and refine it later. You see, I picked up a little bit of the sky there. And the reason I'm doing it sloppy is I just got distracted, and I got distracted by the realization that, hey, there's more building down here. So I need to decide: do I want it brightened up or not, and I think I do. I like this shape here... so I'm gonna have that... go brighter also. Alright, that looks pretty good. Now, my Histogram has gone blank, here in my Properties panel, and that's, to my eye, a bug in Photoshop. When you start painting a Mask, it blanks out the Histogram, and I can't get it to come back unless I...
click and drag on one of these Adjustment tools. Aha, and then it comes back. Now, what I love about Adjustment Layers... Oooo, and I've got some sloppiness in my Mask there, so I'm just gonna fix that while I'm telling you what I love about Adjustment Layers. One of the things... Of course, they're non-destructive. I can change them later, I can turn them off and on, I can change their settings, I can control them with a Layer Mask; but also, what's really great is the Histogram that they display updates to show only a Histogram of the visible area in the image.
So now, all of that sky data that was here, it's taken out of the Histogram because it's irrelevant, because it's not visible through this Mask. So this gives me a very, very accurate Histogram of the area that I'm working on. So now I can see the brightest thing in my image is over here, but the bulk of my tone doesn't start 'til over here, so I'm gonna shove my white point over here. In fact, I think I may take it all the way over here. Okay, that's looking a little bright; I'm gonna back off. What am I thinking about here? I'm thinking about paper; I'm thinking about ink on paper. And with my tone set like this, the brightest thing on this building is way below middle gray, here's middle gray.
So the brightest tone on this building is pretty dark, and on paper, that's gonna go even darker. "White" on paper is "no ink at all". "Black" on paper is "full ink". So I want somewhere in between. Now, I could come here saying: "I want white to be the brightest thing "on the face of this building." But, the image is a dreary image; it's a dreary day out. Some part of our brain knows that this shouldn't be too bright, so I'm gonna back off to about here. Now, I will need to go to paper and find out for sure. This may not be the right edit.
It may be that I really do want it to here. But for now, I'm gonna back it off so that it's not quite so bright. Also, I wanna do something else to this image, or to the building, I should say. There's this wonderful brick texture. I'd like to exaggerate that a little more. Those are mid-tone gray values. I would like to darken those, so I'm gonna take the mid-tone slider and slide it to the right, which will darken those mid-tone values, which darkens the whole thing over all. So I'm gonna... goose my white point a little bit. That's looking pretty good. It's brighter, it's got some texture on it. I've opened up some detail in here.
I like that. I need to refine my Mask, so I'm going back to my Brush tool, swapping with the "X" key, "X" changes these back and forth. And that will allow me to paint black back into my image. So, there we go. That's looking pretty good... I missed a spot there... I'm possibly seeing a finer level of tonal detail on my screen than you are on yours because you're looking at a compressed view. But that's pretty good; this building is done. Let's move on to this building. I'm gonna hit my F6 key to get another Adjustment Layer...
rough-in a white point... hit "D" to get black as my background color... "Command/Control-Delete" to fill the Layer Mask with black... and now, I'm ready to rough-in my Mask, which is a very, very simple process. So, a couple of concerns here. What tone do I make this building? I want it to be separate from the first building I did. It's not a very light building by design, so... I don't want it to be too bright, but I need it to be totally different from the sky in the background, and tonally different from the first building I painted, and ultimately, it's gonna need to be a different tone than this corrugated metal up here.
I want these three things to stand out as separate entities. Now, notice that I'm "cheating" at the top of this building here. I'm not painting right up to the edge, which means the top is staying darker. I can get away with that because in this case, it just looks like a stain on the top of the building, which is great, because it keeps me from having to get real finicky with my Mask. So we can often do that: cheat these Masks, because they lay on boundaries that are kind of fuzzy. I'm gonna go ahead and drag this all the way over to here. And I'm just gonna leave it there. I could pull some more texture out of the building...
Ooo, in fact, I think I will, and that's gonna allow me to bring that in a little bit more. Again, I'm just looking for differential between these two buildings. Now this one definitely looks brighter than that one. This one's still awfully close to the sky, so I may need to print it... and find out for sure, but I think that's looking pretty good. Another Levels Adjustment Layer, so that we can go after that corrugated roof. I'm filling the Mask with black, and I'm ready to go here with my Paintbrush, and... Oops, is that working? Oh, I didn't change my Adjustment Layer; here we go.
Let's get some brightness in here; there we go... You know, I had this nagging feeling I was leaving out a step, that's strange. I just couldn't figure out what it was. This is partly the problem of trying to edit and talk at the same time. It's screwing up the bandwidth usage in my head. Again, sloppy Mask work here. This is totally black, it's not going to be brightened by this Adjustment Layer, so I can just really go to town, painting sloppily here, without worrying about brightening up that big black thing on the side.
The sky is another matter, so I might just leave a little lip there. Again, we can just "cheat" this. It just looks like stain onto the metal. All right, now it's time to set my levels. I want it brighter; I might go all the way in here... This is the brightest point, but that's probably one of these little specular highlights right in here. The bulk of the image data doesn't start 'til here, so I'm gonna go ahead and do that. I want more texture, though. This is a pretty flat, uniform gray, just as this is a uniform gray, so let's crunch it up a little bit.
Now, watch what happens as I start moving the white point here. I'm seeing these dark lines appear in the middle. That's "posterization". I am reducing the number of tones in here as I increase the contrast in the image. As this slider and this slider get closer together... Or actually, I should say, as this slider and this slider get closer together, there are fewer tones in the image. There are fewer tones between here and here as there are between here and here. And so, with fewer tones... the smooth gradients in here that define the shape, the contour of this corrugated metal, those start to go away and I lose that contour.
Eventually, this looks just flat gray. Ooo wow, eventually it starts turning around actually, and I get this different texture in here. Alright, cool, I like, I'm gonna keep that. Now, no I'm not, because look: this looks too flat. I've got white here, I've got gray there. It's a very sudden transition, that doesn't look natural. So I've gotta back... back out to here... and stick in here somewhere... Think I'm gonna move my black point. And then... This is a tough one, actually.
Trying to find the right... level of detail... a detail that looks realistic. Mostly, just as long as I've got some texture on here, it's gonna differentiate itself from this. It's looking pretty good. I am gonna go back to this building now, which is this Adjustment Layer. If I want, I could label these... so that I know exactly which building corresponded to where. And I'm gonna brighten that up. I'm gonna punch up the blocks a little bit so that I get even more texture off the building. I'm trying to distinguish this building from this building, and overall, I think that's looking pretty good.
So we're going along great here... Again, I'm loving that my Histogram is showing me... precisely the levels for the Masked areas for each building. That said, I haven't looked at a Histogram for entire image in quite a while, so I'm gonna go up here to the top... layer in my stack. I'm not going above the black and white layer. I could if I wanted, it really doesn't matter in this case. I'm gonna add another Levels Adjustment Layer, and I'm not gonna put a Mask in. I just wanna see the Histogram overall. I can see that I've got some over-exposed highlights here... and that's probably this bit in here.
Some specular highlights here and there... Overall, I think this looks pretty good, but... I've got a big blob of data here. I've got some sky out here. Watch what happens if I drag in here. I get an overall brightening that's really nice. Look at the difference between this... and this... This one has an appearance of a gray haze over it, and I can take that gray haze out by improving my white point. I'm gonna do that. It's just pulling... the overall sense of gray out of the image, and that overall sense of gray is really gonna be exaggerated on paper, so I'm gonna pull that out to there.
I'm a little worried about this window. So I think I'll just Mask it out. This layer, just like all my others, has a Layer Mask on it, so I can just paint some black in there... and now that window stays a little darker. I'm gonna leave that one. I like that distinguishing tone there. So, that's good. I think I'm ready to go here. I would need to sharpen this image before printing, and once it's printed, I may find that I have some... tonal things that I wanna play with. Some things to look for: Maybe the birds should go blacker. That'd be a, kind of tricky masking job.
I don't think they're going to, I like having that detail on them. This is the process we're gonna be going through for the rest of this course. So if none of this made sense, go back and watch it again. Go check out my Inkjet Printing course... Look at "Layer Masking" and "Adjustment Layer" lessons in other places in the library, but overall, this is gonna be our process for the rest of this course, so let's move on to the next image.
This course, from photographer and educator Ben Long, is designed to help you improve your printing "eye." Ben walks you through a variety of black-and-white and color images, explaining what he likes about them, and sharing insights on how to get the best print from it. Then it's your turn: using Ben's advice and Photoshop, you get to correct the images and print them on your own ink-jet printer. Then tune back in for Ben's solution to each challenge. This is a guided master class in the art of ink-jet printing.
- Making basic adjustments to images
- Practicing printing "by the numbers"
- Managing the black, white, and gray in an image
- Creating a vignette
- Addressing tone in color images
- Using exposure layers to correct highlights and shadows
- Making better masks
- Improving on a boring image