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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun Fixes for Faulty Fotos

While most of the work that I do in Photoshop is trying to make acceptable photos better, there are times when I like to see how much I can improve a really terrible photo. This usually happens around four in the morning when I've been writing and Photoshopping for 12 hours already and I'm totally fried and I just need to let my imagination play a bit. That's how this shot happened. I had been working on the update of my exposure book (Exposure Photo Workshop: Develop Your Digital Photography Talent) all day (and all night) and was looking at photos of the Statue of Liberty when I hit the reality wall. I just couldn't do one more curves tweak or reshuffle any more layers; I was toast.

But I was too wired to do what most people would do in that situation (i.e., go to bed), so I played for a few minutes to cool my brain instead. I had noticed this really crappy almost silhouette of the SOL (below) while I was choosing photos and decided to use that as my victim. I don't recall all of the steps that I went through (again, too burned out to write anything down), but essentially this is what I did:

  1. I opened the RAW file without any changes.
  2. I used curves to zap the contrast--making the sky white and the statue black.
  3. I selected the sky area using the magic wand and then reversed it so that I would only be working on the statue and not touching the sky.
  4. I took a paint brush and using black paint, I painted the statue to make sure she was black. I think I also then used curves again and set the black as the black point, just to be sure it was really black.
  5. I then just reversed the selection again, and used a quick levels or contrast adjustment (I forget which) to make sure the sky was even and light.
  6. I used the "fill" option (Edit>fill in with color> to fill the sky with magenta color.
  7. I then went to the filters menu and chose Filter>Render>Lighting Effects to create that series of circles around her head. My memory is a bit foggy on how i got the repeat circles, but again, it's just playing and no one could duplicate that exactly anyway.
  8. I think used hue/saturation to mess around with the colors
That's about it, I think. And I don't like the angle of the shot at all--another failure of the original shot. But it's fun to see just how much you can do when you're half asleep and not trying to get anywhere specific, but just playing. And the worse that can happen is that you'll learn something about Photoshop tools and then trash the photo if you don't like it. I spend so many hours doing critical work in Photoshop, I wish I had time just to play more--I'm sure I'd learn a lot of cool things. Here is the original shot:

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