Thursday, December 29, 2016

Combining images by changing layer modes in Photoshop

Over the Christmas holiday I collected some background photos of winter trees with bare branches. I wanted to use these photos to combine with other images. The picture below is one of the first uses. It shows a forest edge at sunset combined with three other photos.

To create an image like this I start with a portrait of a model lit with highly defined areas of dark and light. The background is completely white. The model is dressed in black and is lit with a dark shadow on the side of her face near the camera. The mode of this layer in Photoshop is changed to "Lighten".  That means that everything below the image that is lighter than the model image would shine through. That gave me the sunset trees coming through the black areas of the model image. To soften the tree image down a bit I put another photo of a cloudy sunset on top of it, changed its mode to "Lighten", and dialed down its opacity.

I added a Vibrance Adjustment layer and attached it to the model image. This allowed me to dial down most of the color in her face. Lastly, I added the photo of the gulls over the ocean on top of the model image and changed its mode to "Darken" which allowed the model photo to pass through its dark areas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reviving an old photograph with some new overlays

Ever run across an old photo that might have been a good selling stock subject at one time, but because of its older treatment it just didn't keep up with the times?  Happened to me recently when I ran across this old stock shot I did of a morning cup of coffee next to a newspaper and cell phone. First of all, the cell phone was ancient and ruined any chance of selling this shot as stock today. Next, the treatment just wasn't bright enough and didn't say "morning coffee".

To breath some new life into the old photo below I began by simply cropping out the old cell phone. To complete the transition all I did was add three modifying layers from my new (soon to be released by MCP Actions) set of  "Sunshine Overlays".  The sun burst on the upper left below was enlarged and positioned near the woman's hand to make it look like a burst of sunlight was coming from that direction. I also reduced its opacity a bit to tone it down.

Next I added the sunset color diffusion layer on the bottom left to give the image an overall warm morning color. Finally, I added the white vignette layer on the bottom right to brighten the corners. I put a mask over it and painted out the areas where I didn't want it to show. 

All three overlay layers had their layer mode changed to "Hard Light" in Photoshop. This meant than any area that was neutral gray would disappear. What used to take me a long time to retouch now took only a few minutes of drag-and-dropping a few correction layers. 

My complete set of "Sunshine Overlays" is going to be released soon with the new revamp of the MCP web site. I will be announcing the release here as soon as it happens. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Superimposing images using layer modes in Photoshop

The conceptual image above was created by combining two photographs in Photoshop and altering the layer mode of one of them to superimpose the clouds over the silhouette of the man. Here's how: 

The tow photographs below were stacked one over the other as layers in Photoshop with the sky image on the bottom. The top layer of the man had its mode changed to "Light". This meant that everything lighter than the sky photo was preserved while everything darker allowed the lighter parts of the image below to pass through so the sky passed through the dark silhouette of the man. 

A vibrancy adjustment layer was added to the man image only and the vibrancy and saturation were dialed to almost nothing resulting in an almost black and white image. The sky layer was enlarged and positioned to suit the composition and a curves layer added to it to brighten the sky and lower the contrast. That was it. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

First snow in the city for my Fuji X-T2

I woke up just before dawn to our first snow in the city and grabbed this shot with the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji 10-25mm zoom set to 10mm and f/4 with an ISO of 200. As I was freezing outside taking this photo I was beginning to think that Florida sounds pretty nice about now.

An hour later the snow was still coming down but the city looked like this as the morning brightened the scene.

Finally, to create the image below I combined the two photos as layers in Photoshop with the darker night scene placed in a layer above the white snow image. I then changed the night shot layer to "Color" mode and used opacity to dial down its intensity. After collapsing the two image I then added an overlay layer from my MCP Actions "Sunrise Overlays" with its mode set to "Soft Light". 

The image below from my soon-to-be-released MCP Actions "Sunrise Overlays" pack creates a white vignette when it is placed as a layer over another image and its mode is changed to "Hard Light". The it can be tweaked by rotating it and placing a mask on it to paint out some areas to suit. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Quick editing in Photoshop using preset overlays

This is an image I created utilizing some of the effects I have in my new Sunshine Overlays pack of Photoshop overlays that will soon be released by MCP Actions. Using overlays in an image like this makes the work quick and easy.

I started with an image of the model against a white background. I removed the background in Photoshop. Next I created the grid pattern by simply drawing it with a white pencil and filling it in with a low opacity of white so I could see through to her face. Then I filled the background with a gray tone instead of the white. From then on it was only a matter of dragging and dropping my overlays into place and resizing them to suit.

Below are the four overlays I used to create the background. On top is a "half-vigenette" which I combined in Hard Light mode Photoshop layer. I then duplicated that layer and inverted it vertically for a vignette on the top. I positioned and stretched them to suit.

The burst and star on the bottom left are what I used to create the bursting effect behind the model by simply changing their layer modes to Hard Light and Screen and adjusting their sizes. 

Next, I added the star burst on the right to the grid in front of the model's finger. 

As a final adjustment I added a curves layer and vibrancy layer to increase contrast and mute the colors. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Searching for dawn colors with the Fuji 100-400mm zoom

The sun was just breaking above the horizon on a bright day and reflecting off of the buildings in Manhattan. With the Fuji 100-400mm zoom fully extended on my X-T2 I was able to crop into some interesting color patterns made by the intense color contrast of reflecting buildings against the still dark city. A super long telephoto is perfect for this type of shooting. The ephemeral light lasted for a few minutes and was gone.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Night fog in Manhattan

A few nights ago a fast moving fog drifted into the city at just the right height to pass in front of the top of the Empire State Building giving the scene a ghostly appearance. With my Fuji X-T2 mounted with the 16-50mm zoom I grabbed some still images first and later made a few 4k video clips, although I had to chop the size down considerably to fit in the blog.

In the series below I grouped six images to form a grid to make a 25" width print. I then took one of the photos where the fog revealed only a part of the spire to make a black and white Acros image. All were shot at an ISO of 10,000 because I wanted the eerie grainy film effect.