32 IDEA TO IMAGE
Jump into Easy Image
Enhancements
Question: Do you know the difference between a professional photogra-
pher and an amateur?
Answer: A pro never has to show his or her outtakes.
Although that photographer joke is mostly true, I thought I’d share one of
my outtakes with you, with the goal of illustrating how easy it is to turn an
outtake into a keeper.
My original shot of a horse and rider has a few
problems: It’s lopsided, there’s too much dead
space, the colors are dull, you can’t see the
rider’s face clearly, and the dark horse looks,
well, too dark (
Figure 2.1). Other than that, it’s
a great shot!
I made a copy of the original so I could work
on the copy. My fi rst step was to crop and
straighten the image (
Figure 2.2).
In Photoshop, an easy way to straighten an
image is to go to Filter> Distort > Lens Cor-
rection and then rotate the Angle (by clicking
the line inside the wheel) until your image is
straight (
Figure 2.3).
In the same window, you can also straighten an
image by using the Straighten tool. Select the
tool, drag it along a level line in the scene, and
then release your mouse (or stylus) (
Figure 2.4).
If you’re working in Camera Raw (which I
always do fi rst), you can use the Straighten tool
(press A: Mac or Win) in the same manner just
described. Doing so crops and straightens the
image.
FIGURE 2.1
Tech info: Canon EOS 1D
Mark II, Canon 28-105mm
lens @ 50mm. Exposure:
1/500 sec. @ f/8. ISO 400.
FIGURE 2.2
chapter two Image-Enhancement Artistry 33
FIGURE 2.4
FIGURE 2.3
34 IDEA TO IMAGE
Next, I duplicated the image by clicking it in the Layers palette (where
it’s called Background, in this case) and dragging it down to the “Create a
new layer” icon at the bottom of the palette. Then, I created a Layer Mask
by clicking the “Add a mask” icon (
Figure 2.5). The Layer Mask is the
white box next to the image (
Figure 2.6). Layer Masks let you apply and
undo an effect quickly and easily.
My goal at this stage of the process was to see into (lighten) the shadow
areas, including the rider’s face and the horse’s body. In the Layers palette,
on the top layer, I clicked the picture of the horse and rider—not the Layer
Mask. I selected Shadow/Highlight (Image > Adjustments > Shadow/
Highlight), moved the Shadows sliders until I was pleased with what
the shadow areas revealed (
Figure 2.7), and then clicked OK. (If your
Shadow/Highlight window doesn’t include all the options shown here,
click Show More Options at the bottom of the window.) The other areas of
the image were too light at this point, but that’s where the Layer Mask’s
utility came in handy.
Next, I clicked my Layer Mask on the top layer (
Figure 2.8).
I selected the Brush tool and a soft airbrush (because I wanted soft edges)
(
Figure 2.9). With my foreground color set to black (the front box at
FIGURE 2.6
FIGURE 2.5
Create a new layer
Add a mask
FIGURE 2.7
chapter two Image-Enhancement Artistry 35
the bottom of the Tool Bar), I clicked inside the image and
“painted back” areas of the picture I didn’t want to lighten—
everything except the horse’s body and the rider’s face. When I
made a mistake, accidentally moving the eraser over the horse
or the rider’s face, I pressed the X key on my keyboard to
switch the foreground/background colors and painted out the
effect with white. You can also click the double-ended, curved
arrow to change the foreground and background colors.
In
Figure 2.10, taken from the working image window with
the Background layer turned off, you see the effect of my
erasing using the Layer Mask. I need to be a bit more careful
with my erasing. To see how well you’re erasing, turn off the
Background layer by clicking the eye icon on that layer in the
Layers palette.
Next, I wanted to sharpen the key elements in the picture:
the horse and rider. To do so, I applied the Unsharp Mask
lter (Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask) to the image (not the
Layer Mask) on the top layer (
Figure 2.11). That sharpened
only the horse and rider and not the background, due to my
layer and Layer Mask setup.
FIGURE 2.9
FIGURE 2.10
FIGURE 2.11
FIGURE 2.8
Layer Mask

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