Home         Portfolio           Investment           Order Prints           Video           About           Resume           Contact

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dramatic Editing Techniques

Listen to a 90 Second Companion Podcast

     Have you ever stared at a fine art photograph and wondered just how they could create such a dramatic and compelling photograph? Even the best photographs can benefit from subtle and sometimes bold post-production work. While the importance of capturing a good composition with proper exposure cannot be minimized, photo editing is essential to creating a dramatic, cinematic look.
Edited with Levels, Saturation, and Gradient Adjustment Layers
     Adobe Photoshop is the industry leader in photo editing software. The use of layers and masks are the foundation of Photoshop’s editing powers. Learning to use them may at first seem a little daunting but using layers and masks will make your work easier and better quality. The first step to a dramatic photo is deciding what to emphasize in the scene. In the early days of photography, burning and dodging techniques were used to deemphasize or emphasize portions of an exposure. Burning is selectively darkening the exposure while dodging is selectively lightening the exposure. While Photoshop has burn and dodge brush tools, using adjustment layers employs more control while emphasizing or deemphasizing portions of a scene.

From the Camera with no Editing
     Usually the first step is to burn a vignette or at least several corners of the picture by creating a darkened levels adjustment layer. The human eye is naturally drawn to the brightest objects. By darkening the edges, the viewer’s eye is guided naturally into the scene which creates a more dynamic composition. All of the 18 adjustment layer effects automatically create a mask. A mask allows you to add or subtract portions of the adjustment layer effect. If nothing is selected previously, the mask will be completely white. A white mask allows the effect chosen to be visible. If you want to hide a portion of the effect, you paint it a black color with a paint brush. An easy way to remember which color hides the effect is to remember you can hide in the blackness of night.

Actual Adjustment Layers Used
     Many photos can use the same adjustment layer method to enhance other features like saturation, color tones, patterns, or a host of other options. The beauty of using an adjustment layer with a mask is that you can quickly modify the visibility of the effect by painting black or white brush strokes on the mask. As long as you save the file as a Photoshop document (.psd), you will even be able to modify the selections days or even years later. Try for yourself and see the power of adjustment layers in creating dramatic photographs. It will also make your Photoshop work more efficient and professional.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog. 3 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Portraits. Learn more about mastering your portrait photography at PhotographyTalk.