OnePhoto Focus (March)

It’s the first Friday of the month and that means it’s time for Stacy Fisher’s famous OnePhoto Focus where everyone gets a chance to apply their magic touches to the same image.  But before we get to that, a flash back to last month when I visited the Washington National Cathedral for a morning shoot.

National Cathedral 02

Morning Light, National Cathedral

(Technical Data: Nikon D810 on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, extended to 44mm; two images photomerged, exposure 0.5 sec@ f/16, ISO 400)

The National Cathedral has recently started a series of special sessions for photographers who wish to capture images of the interior before the doors open for the public.  The number of photographers is limited to about 25 and reservations can be made in advance. Tripods are allowed and, depending on the day some areas may not be open. Cost of admission is $30.  Details can be found here.

Now back to our main program, the monthly OnePhoto Focus.  This month’s photograph was contributed by Nancy Merrill.  The original is shown below.

March 2016 1PF Before

Original Image by Nancy Merrill

The building, as the sign indicates, is a theatre dedicated to the works of Shakespeare.  The theatrical theme seemed to be a good one to run with and, as we all know, theatre deals with fantasy.  So I thought I would go with that.

No need to go into the boring details of the “image prep” phase in Adobe Camera Raw, largely because Nancy has kindly provided us with a clean, well-exposed, and sharply focused image that needs no heroic efforts.  Only a few standard tweaks were applied.

The next step was to set the scene and it seemed that a visit to Photoshop’s Filter Gallery would be a good place to start.  The “Glowing Edges” effect under the Stylize tab produced an electric effect and, after a little trial and error, the image shown below emerged. The  sign was “protected” from the effects of the filter tool because I had other plans for it.

Robin Kent 1PF March 2016 Step 2A

“Glowing Edge” Effect Applied

Since this is a Shakespearean Theatre, it seemed appropriate to make that fact very obvious.  A quick online search produced an image of a poster for one of the bard’s most famous plays.  It was superimposed as a separate layer and the opacity was slightly reduced.  A mask was used to paint out the unwanted sections of the poster.

Robin Kent 1PF March 2016 Step 4A

Sign Added

With the stage and scenery ready, some characters are needed.  Back to the Internet.  This search found several willing participants: a fashion model, a photographer, and a couple descending the stairs.

Robin Kent 1PF March 2016 Final

Final Image

On a technical note, the procedure I used for adding these elements was to first create a new layer above the background.  The copied images were scaled down using the Edit–>Transform–>Scale tool on the inserted layer (be sure to hold the shift key down to maintain the original aspect ratio).

Thanks again to Stacy for organizing this monthly event. You can see the other versions by the participants by clicking on this link.  And thanks to Nancy for a fun image to edit.

ABFriday Week 31- One Photo Focus

Week 31 After-Before (double)

                     After Image                                                    Before Image

The almost-famous ABFriday Forum begins the year 2015 with a special new feature, entitled “One Photo Focus.”  Here’s how it works: one week each month, all participants will impose their skills and if need be, their trickery on the same image.  The images for the next several months have already been submitted by the early adopters who have already signed up for this extravaganza.  The honor of  being the first in 2015 goes to Emilio Pasquale and he has presented us with an interesting challenge.  I  thought at first it was taken on the set for the chicken race scene in the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”   I can’t wait to see what other interpretations will be unveiled today which can be found here.  Like all ABFriday posts, anyone can participate.  Guidelines can be found at Stacy Fischer’s Visual Venturing site.

Robin Kent Week 31 Before

 Emilio’s Original Challenge Image

Looking at the challenge image I could see (after the movie flashback) that it was quite dark (despite some strong shadows) and it lacked overall sharpness. This is not necessarily bad, but it does affect the directions one can choose in creating something that hopefully will have an impact.  And I suspect that Emilio didn’t want to make it too easy.  Anyway, it seemed that moving away from a photographic look toward a painterly style might be worthwhile.  In doing so, I learned that there is a dark side to Photoshop CC.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  The first step was to follow my normal workflow and run the original image through the RAW (ACR) process, adjusting contrast, tonality, and brightness.  The result is shown in the image below which evokes a sunny day that seemed consistent with the strong shadows in the original. The adjustments (some of

Week 31 Before 01

ACR Adjustments

them rather extreme) were intended to cut back on the bright highlights and open up the dark areas for greater detail.

Step 2 was to open the image in Photoshop and after routine and very minor clean-up, the Unsharp Filter was unleashed just to see what might happen.  The sharpness didn’t improve, but as the setting got more extreme, the image got more interesting (i.e., less photographic). The screen capture below shows the settings and the effect.

Week 31 Before 03

Unsharp Filter Applied

I’ve not done a lot of special effects work on images, but recently have been experimenting with the Filter Gallery in Photoshop.  So that seemed like a good place to start and I was pleasantly surprised to find an “Oil Paint” function in the drop-down menu under Filter (Filter–>Oil Paint).  What I did not know at the time was that I had accidentally opened Photoshop CS6  instead of the latest version of Photoshop CC.  So be aware that the following steps are not possible unless you have a copy of Photoshop CS6 or CS5. More on this later.

Like the Filter Gallery, the Oil Paint function opens the image in a full screen dialog window with the adjustment controls on the right side.  The screen capture shows the settings and a detail section of the effect.

SWeek 31 Before 04

Settings for Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CS6

Week 31 Before 05

Image After Using the Oil Paint Filter

Just for fun,I took the idea one step farther, and used a black and white adjustment layer choosing the High Contrast Red Filter effect instead of the default option. The final image is shown below.  Immediately below the full image is a detail of a section of the image to show a little more clearly the effects of the Oil Paint Filter.  I would be interested in your thoughts on the color vs. the black and white versions.

Week 31 After FinalFinal Image

Week 31 After 01 Detail

Thanks again to Emilio Pasquale for his contribution to the First Edition of One Photo Focus.  And thanks to Stacy Fischer for organizing this project. To see what the others have done with Emilio’s image, please check out the Visual Venturing post at this location. And if the raging online controversy over Adobe’s removal of the oil paint filter piques your interest, just Google “Where is the Oil Paint Filter in Photoshop CC?”

After Before Friday Forum Week 30

Each week, Stacy Fischer of Visual Venturing sponsors the After-Before Friday Forum which provides anyone wishing to participate to exchange ideas about the creative power of post-processing.  There is always something new going on and I encourage you to check out the submissions by the other participants here.

My submission this week is dedicated to several readers who offered some helpful suggestions to the ABFriday post last week and also in Week 28. I have incorporated those suggestions into the image from last week and that image now has a new look.  All work was done with Photoshop CC.  I’ll be interested in hearing reactions to the changes.

First, as a reminder, here is the starting point for the revisions.  The image below was the “Final Image” in last week’s post.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 30 BeforeStarting Image, Uncropped

Last week I asked readers about the cropping decisions on this image and I received a number of ideas, all involving removing a portion of the sky with some of those also suggesting taking a bit off the sides.  One person suggested a 1X1 format, similar to the typical Instagram default size.  That seemed like the most radical change and that variation is shown below.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 30 Before 01

 Cropped to 1 X 1 Format

Those with excellent memory will recall that two weeks ago (ABFriday Week 28) a reader asked how the “ripped border” effect on the Week 27 image was accomplished. (That post can be found here.)  I didn’t recall (5 years is a long time) but said I would attempt to find out..  After 2 weeks of fruitless searching, Janice Foreman came to my rescue with a “how-to” guide that she had found.  The technique was similar enough that I was able to add a few tweaks and produce something that was pretty close to the original ripped border effect.  For those who are interested, the guide Janice found can be located here.

I should note that using this tool will require some experimentation because the effect varies according to the size of the starting image.  The image size used for this demonstration was 2800 X 2800 pixels at 300 ppi.

To begin, one needs to add a white border around the image.  One way to do this is the following:

> Use Image->Canvas Size which opens a small dialog window (see below);

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 30 Before 02

Canvas Enlargement Steps

>Choose Percent (red arrow) for both Width and Height and enter a number greater than 100 in the boxes for Width and Height (blue arrows). Make sure the Canvas extension color is white (yellow arrow);

>Click OK and a white border should appear.

> Using the Rectangular Marquee tool (feather set at 0 px), select an area just inside the image border;

> Click Select->Inverse.  The result should look something like the screen capture below

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 30 Before 03

Detail of Selection Area

>Click on Filter->Filter Gallery and a full screen dialog window will open.  The controls are found in the upper right corner (see detail image below) and the image will appear in a large Preview section on the left (not shown).

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 30 Before 04

Filter Gallery Adjustment Panel

>Select Distort->Glass from the list of effects (red arrows)

>Select Frosted as the Texture (blue arrow)

>Adjust the other controls to your taste and the effect will be shown in the Preview Window.  In this case, Distortion is set at 11, Smoothness at 3, and Scaling at 131%.

>Click OK and it’s done.  The Final Image is shown below.

Robin Kent ABFriday Week 30 After

Ripped Border Effect

The result is close, but not identical,  to the effect achieved in the Week 28 image.  However, the Photoshop Filter Gallery offers a wealth of options and is a great place to play during a rainy afternoon.

Once again, thanks to Stacy and all of the participants in this week’s Forum.  I hope you will check out the others at Visual Venturing ABFriday Week 30.