This week we welcome an amazing photographer to join our series, Joey Lawrence, who might be better known to many of you as Joey L. I first met Joey back in the spring of 2007 and was immediate taken by the quality of his photography, the spirit with which he approached life, and his perspective on the world around him at even such a young age.
Joey just returned from an awesome trip to Africa and today he is going to walk us through how he processed one of his shots from that experience, “Vicious Dog.” If you would like to learn more about Joey L, the subject of this photo, or his adventure, you can find more information in his P&P Blogger Profile, his guest post from this week on Friend-of-the-Blog Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider, and on JoeyL.com.
To me, Photoshop is simply a tool that should be fully molded to suit the users taste in editing. No matter what kind of image you are editing or how much work you are going to put into it, you’ll find there are several ways to do the exact same thing. I like to work as simply as possible and treat the image as if it were real right in front of me, and CS3 is made up of just raw tools around me… If one adjustment is done, it can bring one look, but one area must be compensated with another adjustment… Which must be compensated with another, and so on. It’s like a doctor proscribing a patient many medicines to eventually balance each other out. To overcome these many steps, the most important thing to learn is not Photoshop instructions, anyone can learn those… The most important thing is to develop an insight into foreseeing how your image should be, this way you see past the individual steps and vision the final outcome of the image.
I’ve been questioned many times on my methods in my own tutorials for sale, which some say are destructive to an image. Although I have learned some new techniques to protect the pixels in the image and apply them in my workflow now, (and agree this is crucial when printing a file), my answer is the same… Who cares! Yes, it is very important to understand the principles of Photoshop and know it’s limits in an image, but this knowledge should be set at the back of your head as instinct so creative thoughts are not completely dissolved in book knowledge. I admit, I first learned Photoshop just by clicking around and experimenting. This did lead to many mistakes that I know now not to do, but it did raise some interesting patterns in the way I edit. My first training was not formal, and a lot of the things I do today are based on those first years I was playing around. Just look at an image as it is, an image. The technicalities are important and should be engraved into your skull, but they are not the image and the end result.
Here is a simple technique that was not in my editing DVD that I do a lot lately to much of my newer work.
Always edit in the wee hours in the morning. There’s nobody there to bother you.
I am converting the RAW file in Phase One’s capture software. The image itself was taken with a P45+ back and a prime 80 mm lens.
I know a lot of people pump out their RAW files first with a very flattened exposure and adjust it with more precision in photoshop… But usually I know exactly where I want an image to end up, and don’t mind just boosting the contrast and turning down the saturation a bit right in the RAW converter.
Properly sharpening RAW files before output is very important. If you plan to do it later, you are missing out on manipulating the root of the file… And the results will be very poor. I find a point in the photo where the depth of field trails off, and focus on the sharpest point near it. It takes a lot of practice to figure out the right degree of sharpness for a print. Usually the rule of thumb I use is to just feel it out by eye, and make the image a little bit too sharp for your monitor. This way on the page, the fine details are preserved. Make sure to avoid sharpening halos.
I now have my image converted from RAW and in Photoshop CS3. To me, the tonal range on my subject seems too flat. It is not really a matter of contrast that I didn’t add in the converter, but a lack in the tonal values themselves. I want a harsher, grittier tonal range.
How I get this is to first duplicate the background layer, then select Channel Mixer. Within the channel mixer, I can make a black and white image that looks much different than just simply using the command “desaturate.” I can mix all the channels of blue, green and red to come up with something. Usually, the pure “blue filter” preset works great, and I have used it on this particular image.
Doing this kind of black and white conversion has now enabled me to have some thick tones, the only problem is now the image is not color. To move on, I slide down the opacity slider until it looks good. Usually I like slightly muted, muddy tones. A opacity of 32% has seemed to work.
Just to show you the difference of the channels, check out what happens when I use purely the red channel instead of the blue channel. I get very even and soft tones versus the harsh and contrasted.
I had to convert to black and white for the technique to work, but now I’ve lost some of the coloring that was initially in the image. I want to gain this back, but also add a contrast boost. I do this by duplicating the colored background layer again, and dragging it on top of the image. Then I set it’s blending mode to “Soft light” and drag the opacity around until it looks good. 28% seemed to work.
Now I have noticed because of my last manipulation, I have lost a lot of detail in the shadows. I correct this by doing a simple Shadow/Highlights adjustment.
I tweak the colors in selective color to fine tune everything in the image and achieve the perfect skin tone.
Turn off your embarrassing music and go to bed.
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