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Author Topic: Blending help!  (Read 3372 times)
situgrrl
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« on: December 22, 2005, 11:24:41 AM »
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I'm doing a course and this picture is for my portfolio.

I don't seem to be able to get photoshop to be subtle with this picture.

You can see from the two pictures that I''ve reduced the depth of field using a mask and gaussian blur.  The subject seems to have a halo type thing making him stand out too much.

The second problem is the sky (duh?) or more accurately, the blending between it and the trees.  I've tryed the feather tool and get no joy, I've tryed altering the dither of the magic wand, again to no (useful) effect.

Third, can anyone recommend a decent stitching tutorial - one that shows how to slightly bend, squish, stretch frames to make it all cool?  A DSLR at glastonbury is more than enough without a set of legs!

Thanks!
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jdemott
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2005, 01:00:33 PM »
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For the first two parts of your question (blurring and darkening the sky), try using layer masks.  For example, create a Curves adjustment layer (you might try selecting the Multiply blend mode) and adjust the Curve as needed until the sky looks suitably dark or even too dark.  Don't worry that everything else looks way too dark.  Then make the layer mask for the adjustment layer active and fill it with Black so you only see the underlying layer--everything is back as it was.  Now take a large, soft-edged paintbrush set to white with about 50 percent opacity and begin painting in the layer mask in the area of the sky.  Don't worry that the brush runs over into the trees and hat a little- just aim for a natural looking blend.  

You can do the same sort of thing with the blur effect.  Just make a duplicate layer and blur it to taste.  Create a layer mask and hide all.  Then paint in the blurred effect where you like (or reveal all and then paint in the un-blurred areas) using a large soft edged brush at 50 percent opacity.  

There are many other ways of modifying layer masks, but painting makes it easy to see what you are doing.  If you go too far, just change to black and paint over the area to reverse what you have done.

As for the third question, if you really need to morph the images to get them to fit, then I suggest you look at a stitching program like PT Assembler.  Sometimes minor problems can be fixed simply by arranging the adjacent files in layers and then using layer masks similar to what I describe above so that the seams fall in areas where there is little important detail (sky, foliage, etc.) and you just blend away the differences.  Looking at your first image, I notice that when I try to darken the sky it appears that the right hand section is from a stitched file so that the exposure of the sky is different.  When you stitch it is important to get the exposures identical.  If you need to adjust exposures to get the sky to match, the best way is to look at each channel separately and adjust each channel using levels.  

Hope this helps.  Good luck.
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John DeMott
emma_g
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2005, 08:33:57 PM »
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I've been using Photoshop for about 15 years( since Version 4) for professional illustration work. I find that by duplicating a channel, such as blue for your sky, then applying Image Adjustment -Threshold and adding a Gaussian blur of 2.0 or less I can get useable masks which need only minor block touchups. You can then load the corrected channel as a selection and apply the levels command. If you do this to a duplicate layer, you have all the blending mode accessible as well. I did a quick mask this way on your original and deepened the sky without the halo effect. With a bit more fussing there would be no darking in the hat area either. Hope this helps.
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situgrrl
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2005, 06:03:19 PM »
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So far I've got the images composited fairly successfully.

By selecting the sky with a magic wand, I can adjust it's levels independent of the rest of the image for a sort of ND grad effect....however, I still get the horizon halo.  How can I select the sky with a mask and soft brush so that I can do the levels/curves independently?  I'm being dumb!

Thanks!
C
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emma_g
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2005, 06:58:49 PM »
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After you do your selection with the magic wand, you have the option of modifying the selection in several ways. Under Selection you could use Expand before appying any Feathering. Or you could choose Transform Selection and rescale the selection using any/all of the Transforn tools under Edit. The latter lets you see the effects over your original. Saving the Selection opens further possibilities such as using the Gradient tool to bleed off the edges. Even with the magic wand set at 0 pixel tolerance, it doesn't get the edges perfect. It's easiesr to just over shoot the selection, then feather it back.
As an alternative, you cound duplicate your original layer, select your sky, Expand the selection, Inverse it and Cut the remaining areas. Make the sky corrections, then use the Eraser at low opacity with a small soft brush to feather any unwanted areas manually. By zooming in you can work really tight to any edges. When you have it where you want it, merge the two layers. Working on multiple layer copies offers you lots of freedom to fix small areas independently. And it's both faster and less nerve racking than working just on the original. Some of my illustrations reach 60 separate layers, before I merge anything!
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jdemott
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2005, 09:35:58 PM »
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Hi--

What I am trying to suggest with the painting technique I described is that you do not have to go through the frustration of trying to make a perfect selection using the magic wand, etc.  I have been through all those exercises for years and for most situations they are just more trouble than they are worth.  The traditional way of taking a photo and adjusting the sky (pre-photoshop) was to use a graduated neutral density filter (which had very imprecise placement) or to use various burning in techniques in the darkroom (which were also imprecise)--and yet the results looked natural.   For most effects, trying to get the selection or the mask accurate to within a pixel or two is just asking for trouble.  You end up with halos and other un-natural looking effects.

Try making an adjustment layer (curves or levels) or a duplicate layer and then darken the sky appropriately with that layer.  Don't worry about how the rest of the image looks.  Then set the layer mask to hide all (with an adjustment layer, fill the layer mask with black).  Keeping the layer mask active, select the paintbrush tool, pick a large diameter (over 100 pixels) with soft edges, and select 50 percent opacity.  Then just start painting in the sky area.  Run the brush all along the horizon--the soft edge will let it spill over a little.  Keep painting with the brush in the upper parts of the sky until it is suitably dark.  Think of it as painting with a very wet watercolor wash.  There is no way to stay within the lines; just concentrate on a natural looking result and don't hestitate to go back if necessary.
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John DeMott
situgrrl
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2005, 12:35:28 PM »
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I still don't get it!  Over the last 3 days I've tried all sorts of masks and selections.

For this image, I selected the sky with a magic want, expanded it by 20 pixels and feathered.  I then copied it to a new, clear layer.  I then applied a levels adjustment layer before using a combination of erasers to try and blend the line out.

Since the adjustment layer covers the entire image, I've trashed it and reapplied levels to my "mask" layer.  This is the two together and the result is still crap (the left side has had the most work).

Emma, you mentioned something about bleeding the edge out with a gradient.  I've the selection saved as an alpha channel, is it possible to apply the levels adjustment across a gradient?

Thanks!
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emma_g
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2005, 11:49:09 PM »
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You can use  any command on an alpha channel that you would use on a layer. You can use levels on the gradient, hand retouch it with the brush tool, etc. Because my experience with Photoshop is based in graphic arts and drawing, I don't use adjustment layers per se, ever. I work on duplicates of the original layer, isolating whatever section I want to modify and working on just that area. I am very comfortable working on files with many layers because this allows me the option of restacking the layers in any order to achieve the best blends etc. I don't flatten the image until the last step, and I always burn a backup copy of the unflattenened image in case it needs to be re-edited.
    Using gradients in masks take time to get use to,but they allow for very subltle corrections. As someone mentioned, with digital media, you only have to do the corrections once for an unlimited number of prints. So the time you spend is really relatively short compared to retouching prints manually.
     I've saved your attached photos. I'll try making some adjustments and note the technical data for you over this weekend, if you wouldn't mind. You didn't mention the final resolution you want to output. The higher the resolution you work at originally, the more seamless the corrections you make can be as a whole, but the subtle details will get lost if you bump the res down alot. You might not even see them in the finished print. But you won't see any correction artifacts either. My commercial work is never less than 600pdi, even if my client only needs it at 300dpi.
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situgrrl
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2005, 09:45:24 AM »
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I'm going to have a play with the alpha channels in a moment, just as soon as I've ordered a beefy photoshop book from amazon....any recommendations?

Emma, you are more than welcome to play with them over the weekend - I can email you a higher res pic or even the PSD file if you'd like...just don't want to upset those without massive internet connections.

I completely understand your arguements for flattening at the last possible moment but I've a funny feeling you've got more at your disposal than I - a G4 533 (single processor) with 768 mb RAM.  The flattened image is about 145 mb.  In order to achieve anything, I find myself flattening images (having resaved them) to prevent 'puter from stalling.

I intend to print the pic at about 12x32".  It is 9600x3600 @ 300 ppi

Thanks
Charly
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emma_g
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2006, 04:23:10 AM »
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Hi Charly
My email should give you most of the technical data about what I did. The jpeg was pretty pixelatted along the edge you want to correct. But this post should give you an idea of what to expect.
      Can't help with the book suggestion, I don't have any other than the manual. PhotoshopUser is a good magazine from NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). They are US based, but it's good enough for me to subscribe to here in Australia. Adobe Studio Exchange can also be helpful sometimes. And there are lots of sites with tutorials for artists that can give you ideas and techniques you can apply to photography.
Hope this all helps

Emma[attachment=112:attachment]
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spphoto
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« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2006, 10:50:48 AM »
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emma, can you please share with the rest of us how you did that?

thanx,

sp
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emma_g
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2006, 03:43:10 PM »
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Quick List:
Duplicate Original Layer, Name it Threshold.
Apply Image/Adjustment/Threshold to Level 209 (this becomes your mask)
Select sky area  in Threshold/ Expand 20 pixels/Inverse/Feather 6 pixels
Duplicate Original Layer, Name it Sky
Turn off Threshold, Make Sky active.  Edit/Cut
Apply curves. Input 225, Output 140, darkening Midtones & Highlights
Set blending Mode to Multiply
Use Eraser at 30% opacity with 12 pixel soft brush to clean close to edge.
Then Blur tool at 43% along Edge, same brush.
Stiching atifacts corrected with Clone tool without Align.
Take clone samples from various areas (at least 12 different selected samples)

Time approx. 15-20 minutes.
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emma_g
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2006, 03:55:57 PM »
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Sorry forgot to add: You could save the selection as an alpha channel for futher use and dump the Threshold layer rather than turn it off.
I did all work with the mouse&keyboard. A tablet would give a bit more precision,but not save much time. I use either.
Save before Flattening and Save another copy afterwards.
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