Image 1: Coneflowers - Final Image Processed in Photoshop. Image shot with a Sony α900 and a Lensbaby Composer at f4.0 at 1/250 of a second.
Hi everyone. I thought I would leave the slot canyons for awhile and post another Lensbaby image from my garden flower series. I am showing three stages in this image; the RAW capture, the Lightroom processed image, and the final composition completed in Photoshop. The image was shot in the early morning with the sun rising just off the image’s right hand side. The beautiful sidelight gave the flowers some nice illumination and added depth to the shot. The image was shot hand held with the focus on the two flowers in the center of the image. I used the f4.0 insert on my Lensbaby Composer and the camera white balance was set to 5200K. I composed the shot in a way that would give me cropping room for the final composition. The quality of light is what makes the shot beautiful but it also contributed to an exposure issue-that of balancing the white of the petals with the shadowed areas within the green leaves. Watching the histogram and the “blinkies” I had to clip the white highlights and the shadows just a fraction which pushed the majority of the mid-tones just to the left. I knew I could recover these in the RAW processor. Not optimum but pushing the histogram more to the right would have seriously clipped the highlights and I may not have been able to recover them.
Image 2, below shows the RAW file before processing. Not too bad but it can certainly be improved, especially in the shadows and mid-tones. And while I do like the hint of magenta colors in the top I thought the overall image could be improved by cropping in to eliminate some of the darker parts at the bottom of the shot. In looking at the image, right away I loved the quality of the light. The coneflowers really stood out and I liked the light striking the vertical stems which added a nice dynamic line that played against the curve of the flowers. With all that in mind my plan was to crop in on the shot and bring out the mid-tones for more depth. I also needed to recover a small bit of the highlights in the petal and add just a bit of fill recovery for the clipped shadows.
Image 2: Coneflowers, RAW capture before processing.
Image 3: below shows the image as processed in Lightroom before exporting to Photoshops. Here you can see the subtle recovery of highlights and shadows and the final crop. Additionally some small adjustments were made in the overall color with the sliders. Not a lot however as I prefer to use the selective color controls in Photoshop for final tweaking.
Image 3: Coneflowes, image after processing in Lightroom.
So lets take a look at all three images side by side: The first image is the RAW file, the second image is the Lightroom File, and the third image is the final Photoshop File. The results at first glance may appear subtle. The overall crop helped to eliminate the dark dead space at the bottom of the shot. But keep in mind that I shot this with an eye towards cropping in on the flowers. The Lensbaby Composer is not a zoom lens and though I might have moved in to the shot just a bit it would have altered the focus point. The second image also shows the slight recovery of the shadows with the Fill Slider and the highlights on the petals through the Recovery Slider. The third image is the final rendering from Photoshop. Here the shadows and mid-tones have been adjusted through a luminosity curve mask.
The shot below shows a screen capture of the layers I used in Photoshop. The Background Layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur at a 20 pixel radius was made. Though the Lensbaby at the f4.0 aperture insert already produces a nice selective focus blur I wanted to add just a bit more. From there, three separate luminosity curve masks were made for the mid-tones and shadows. The luminosity masks isolate certain tonal and value ranges in the image and from there I apply the curve adjustments through the mask. I won’t go into how these are made but if you are interested please visit Tony Kuyper’s website where you can download his tutorial’s on the masks. They are an excellent way to apply curve adjustments to a targeted tonal range. After the curves I applied a mid-tone contrast mask and then added my Dodge and Burn, Color Balance, and a Final Color Layer. This is a fairly typical Layer Stack for my work. I always do global curve work first followed by selective adjustments. I almost always use a Dodge and Burn Layer. This is an Overlay Layer with a 50% Grey Fill set to an opacity of 66%. You can paint on the mask using the Brush set to a large feathered radius. Painting with Black darkens and painting with white lightens. You should set the Brush to a low opacity and build up the effect.
Coneflower Photoshop Layers
Well, this was quite a bit to go through. Hopefully you followed along and got a glimpse of how I process some of my shots. If you have any questions or comments just drop me a note. Thanks for stopping by today.