First Steps – Photoshop

I spent the last couple of months watching hours of Photoshop training vids at Kelby Training. Dumping as much in my head as fast as I could. Jumped around to different subjects, lighting, B&W, HDR, portrait retouching, and on and on. I learned a lot, but when I pulled up one of my own pictures I was still at a loss as to what to do with it – how to get it where I wanted it. Too much running around in my head, nothing sticking.

Last week I pulled up a course on ‘Beauty and Portait Retouching’ by David Cuerdon. Great course. I watched slowly, took notes, backed up as I needed and watched it again. When I was all the way through I sat down last Saturday and worked through the whole course – twice.  I applied each principal he taught on his sample image. My original plan was to do it 3 times, but it took me so long the first time I ran out of day. Still, it was a great exercise. Things finally started sticking. All the stuff I’ve been cramming in my head started coming together and making sense.

In the past few days I’ve sat down and played a bit with my own pictures.

This was the first one. My kids have been watching me messing around with Photoshop and Lightroom and they wanted to do it too. K, my 8 year old, wanted to make a colorful sunset. So we started with an HDR TC I took last summer.

K wanted more ‘creative’ coloring. So, I popped up a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and under her direction we changed a few things:

I’m a literalist. I have to push myself to see outside of the box. In theory I don’t have an issue with manipulating a photograph. Photographers have been manipulating images since day one. But when it comes right down to it, 99% of the adjustments I make don’t change the base nature of the image. I even struggle with cropping. It was drilled into my head that most of the work should be done in the camera. Plus, since I shot mostly in color chromes and it was expensive and a hassel to have much post processing modifications made (and I was poor and impatient), I stayed pretty close to what I shot. Now so much more is possible it isn’t an issue of the tools – its an issue with my vision.

K’s little exercise started me thinking about pushing beyond normal bounds. So I pulled up an image I shot my first time out with my D90.


I’ve always liked this image – felt there was potential here. But I wasn’t sure what to do with it. So I dropped a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and played with the color. Some Layer Mask blending and a heavy crop and this was the result:

Still not sure I’ve found the essense of the image, but it is definiately more interesting, more compelling. I see more what grabs me about this image – two of my favorites elements: Texture and Direction.

One more. I was sending images of our cabin to a family member. I have one image I like showing the outside view from the great room. An image of a beautiful snowy day. The exposure is for outside, and the inside is dark. I decided to try and even that out.

I dropped in a Curves Adjustment Layer and adjusted the image for the shadow area. Then I filled the Adjustment Layer Layer Mask with black to hide the affect and painted in the areas I wanted to apply the adjustment with white on the Layer Mask.

It was like turning a light on in the room.

It’s starting to get fun.

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