Retouching & Post Processing: Image 1
Let's go ahead and just start to do some of that which Corey had talked about. And... So again, there's lots of ways to do this. Personally, I like to have my Adjustments tab open, with all of these tools here. Again, my apologies for moving everything around and bein' all crazy, a little unorganized here. And so this panel allows us kind of some of those easier, simple adjustments, as sort of Photoshop presets... With a brightness and contrast feature, or levels, things like levels and curves, which we can dive into a bit. I'm a big fan of curves personally. And things like exposure and vibrance and, you know, color casts and all of that stuff. So, (sighs) what'dya think, Corey, we start with a vignette or something?
Sounds great, yeah.
So again, we can do this in multiple ways. Sometimes, depending on how your image is laid out, a good way to do that can be to actually physically draw a vignette. You can do that very specifically with marquees, and you know, creating very specifi...
c vignettes. I like more of a style of having the adjustability to have it be kind of, you know, I don't need a perfect circle vignette. I would do something that's more, I'm gonna more burn down part of the image, and it might be around the edges in the whole frame, but I'm not gonna do a perfect circle vignette. Here, I'm gonna show you guys just sort of a basic way with a new curves layer. So in this adjustment panel, I have selected Curves, which does down here in my Layers panel, created a new layer on top of my background layer. So how Photoshop works is, it pretty much takes your original image, and you slowly build layers on top of it. You could relate it to something like an oil painting, where you start with a blank canvas, and you're slowly kind of building and building and building on top of that. It's great to have that feature as far as, if you do it correctly you can always go back and change those things later. If you don't like something, or if the client says that they wanna tweak this or they wanna tweak that, there are ways that you can get hung up and do things "improperly." Which, you know, I try and shy away from that term in Photoshop, because... There's so many ways to do things. But really the ultimate goal is to try and not ruin your image, or you wanna always allow yourself the ability to go back and make any of those adjustments that you want to. So, Photoshop automatically does that for me. I now have a curves layer on top of my background. And so, this here, which again, let me give you a little more view here. This should look a little bit familiar from our camera RAW. This is our histogram, that's back up again. It looks a little different in terms of, this is sort of giving us all channels together, whereas camera RAW was sort of separating them out into, you know, separate colors there. Respective colors. So this allows us to go in and to adjust our histogram at all points, again right are our highlights, sorry, our whites, at the very right side. Our highlights, which sorta end up being in this quadrant here. Midtones here, shadows, and again, blacks way down at the corner. And you know, Curves allows us to have that adjustability in all colors. For Curves, we are just going to use an overall adjustment. And in this image, I would probably just take something near the center here, to adjust the midtones and bring them down a bit. And so in order to do that, all I have to do is, I can click here, anywhere in this Curves line. And what it's gonna do is create a little target point, which I can then click and drag. And why I live Curves versus Levels, which is a very similar feature, it has your histogram up, but it doesn't let you move linearly like this. So for this instance, it's not a big deal, I think I'm just gonna grab one point. If you accidentally end up tagging a bunch of these points, it's easy, you can click and drag and just pull right off the graph there, and they will disappear. So for this instance, I'm just gonna grab this center point, which are our midtones here. And you can see this is going to affect my entire image. What's here next to, you know, Labeled Curves 1, is my layer mask. And this is showing me, this is all white. It means that this adjustment right now is going to be global for the entire image. I don't necessarily want this adjustment to be across the whole image, but my workflow is that I actually do this overall adjustment first, and I'll bring back what I don't want later. And you can see that here in my layer mask. So what I'm going to do is select my brush now. I have this curve layer set sort of in a style that I want. Again, we can always go back and adjust. We can tweak this as need be. But for now, we'll leave it at this. And I'm gonna go in with my brush, and select this layer mask. And the opposite of white, black, which will then not allow that layer to come through. And so, as long as I have black selected over here in my color palette, for my brush, I can then go in and paint out the areas that I don't want. So as I touch my brush, I just happen to be using a tablet today, which allows for pressure sensitivity with more of a pen feel. Kind of allows you to be a little more specific with adjustments than, say, using your mouse. I'm gonna go ahead and just sort of paint out sections of this image that I don't want to have this adjustment on. So you can see down here, my layer mask, it is changed from white to black. And wherever it's black now, it's not affecting the image. You can also view it in a different style in this Quick Mask mode, which shows you... Really what it's showing you is, in your layer mask, it's giving a visual representation, as red in this case. And just showing you, you know, if I continue to paint, it'll show me where that is now affecting. So you can see already, I can click on and off with this eye here on the left-hand side. You can see we have vignetted the image here. I chose to keep David at the original exposure, and sort of brought down some of these sides here to kind of give that feeling on him.
And if I happen to be in the office sitting next to Bly, responding to email, but watching what's happening, this is where we'll have these check-in points. This would be a moment where he spends a couple of minutes doing this, and then he says, "Hey Corey," like, "is this cool?" And I look over, "Oh, yeah, that looks great." Or, "No, broaden that." And so whether that's with yourself, or whether it's I'm working with Bly, that's kind of the feedback loop that happens. Because really these are aesthetic choices. You're making decisions, there's no right or wrong. It's just, what so you like, what was my vision, what is Bly's vision, we've worked a lot together, so we have this convergence of visions when it comes to how we'll retouch an image.
And so quickly I'll move on here. I don't want to take up too much time, but also explain so you guys can know exactly what I'm doing here. I've created a new layer again, and you can see that it's gonna pop on top of the last layer that I have. And I just picked Hue and Saturation, which again is up here in my Adjustment tab. And you know, Corey had sort of talked as far as maybe having somewhat of a desaturated feel. There's you know, kinda lots of warm tones here. We probably have some ambient reflection off of this really warm-toned rock on his skin tones. And maybe quickly I can just show doing more of kind of a desaturated skin tone look. And I would do that exactly like the curves layer that I just did with a vignette, and a layer mask. So I won't walk you through that again, it's the same process, painting out where I don't want those features. And again, you can do that in reverse. Some people tend to do that in reverse, where you start with a black layer mask, and then you'll actually paint in where you want those adjustments. This just happens to be my personal workflow. So I can quickly kinda do that, Corey, if you wanted to...
Sure, any questions, guys, whether it's specific to what we're doing, or anything that's from the previous segment, which was workflow and managing data, asset management? And that could come from the audience at home, or at work, if you're pretending to work but you're actually watching CreativeLive. Or, it could come from anyone in this audience. Or just questions about life, any philosophical question that you have. Hit me with it.
Nothing philosophical I guess, (Corey and Bly chuckle) it's just like, it's all personal preference really, but in our field of action sports, adventure photography, we try to keep things fairly neutral to how we saw them, right? How far off do you guys go by adding or adjusting adjustment layers? Normally in my work, I just, curves, hue and saturation, and maybe a little sharpness, burning and dodging on a separate layer--
And I think I'm the guy that came from the world of, you know, I started by shooting transparency film, where truly what you shot is what you got. And so you know, if you were there in nice light, guess what, the frame is gonna look beautiful, and you learned sort of the temperament of the film stock that you were working on. And I think the same is true with digital cameras. The ideal world is, what I'm handing Bly, aside from those very basic adjustments that you described, that's all we're doing. I mean it's really, we're working in great light, we're lighting it correctly, everything about that scene is ideal, and it's controlled, and we're conscious of why we shot it that way. Unless there's a specific request, the client wants something, like a little kind of heavier hand in terms of post, or if we ran into real technical problems in the field. But I would say nine times out of 10, what we're shooting in the field is pretty darn close to what you're seeing as an end-result product. And you know, I think what Bly is doing here, it's worth pointing out. So far what we're doing is very similar to what you would do in a conventional darkroom, meaning, I hate admitting it, but I spent a lot of time burning and dodging in a darkroom, whether that was with my hands, or putting in wands. And this is what you'd do, you'd burn down the edges so that you'd get your, you know, viewer to look at the subject in the middle of the frame, if you were printing. And those were the directions, the same directions, that I would give to a printer, if I was shipping a transparency out, for a color print. Now we're just doing it in a digital realm. (murmuring) Sure.
Is it common for you and a client to go back and forth on the way something is toned? Does that conversation go on for a while--
Yeah, that's a great question.
Or more often do they just accept what you send 'em right away?
It really depends on the situation. I mean I think the more kind of editorial, real-time fast pace, and that sometimes fits into the Red Bull world, sometimes that's the magazine world, there's just no time for going back and forth. It's sort of, you're on deadline, you're moving fast. As you move into the commercial/advertising world, absolutely, there's an enormous amount of feedback, where there's a feedback loop. It also happens, when I push upon a client a style that I think is cool for that shoot, and it doesn't coincide with sort of a larger set of brand standards, or their expectation of that photograph. And so I think that open-mindedness, oftentimes our goal is whatever we deliver, everyone's gonna give us the thumbs up and pat us on the back, and we sing kumbaya. Sometimes that's not how it works. Sometimes it turns out, you know, there's a lot of feedback, and we've gotta kind of adjust. And one thing that I've learned, and I learned it early in my career is, I love the process of making pictures. I can easily separate myself, I understand what a client's needs are might not be my aesthetic. But at the end of the day, I'm trying to make that client happy, and I feel good knowing that I worked through that process of hopefully making a client happy, at the end of the day. And for me that's been a really fruitful approach, where I'm happy, they're happy, and you can always have the "director's cut" or your version that might not be in sync with what your client wanted.
And on that note, just to interject, and maybe I'm off topic, by thinking about, you know, spending the time. You know, time is money, and how do you allocate your time to work on a project back and forth with a client, and how do you discuss that as far as pricing or billing for that project beforehand, or adjusting, you know. How does that dialogue work for your...
That might be a bit of a deep dive, to just kind of summarize here. But you know, I can say this. In the ideal world, if we're gonna be doing a lot of retouching, you know, we're gonna get paid for it hopefully. Unless I screw something up, then we'll do whatever we need to do to fix it. And you know, that goes back to that mentality of I never say no, and also when I screw things up, I'll try to solve the problem if I can.
And I ask that question mainly for maybe people that are just starting, or looking into this and trying to understand how to make these adjustments. 'Cause I've found in the past working with clients back and forth, I've wasted a lot of time trying to find the right thing that they're looking for, and not understanding that I should be, you know, compensated for my time doing that.
I think maybe even the step before that is just being very clear about the expectations up front for what are you responsible for, meaning, 90% of our clients, all we do is deliver RAW files. You know, when you work for an ad agency, or large brands, they're gonna take the image and make it look the way they want it to look. They just want the best frames in a RAW format. Other clients want that final toned, perfect image that's ready to go to print, and it's clearly you're communicating and articulating that. I think that's step number one. Because when you've communicated that, it's much easier to then take that next step to, "if I'm going to spend six hours, "this is what the hourly rate is for doing that work," whether it's Bly or whether it's me or we're outsourcing it to another company. You know, just communicating that up front, and making sure everyone's on the same page. Alright.
So, let's jump back in really quick and first I will say that you know, we sort of showed you a quick glimpse into maybe what we might do with more specific adjustments there, as far as kinda using layer masks, which are you know, a pretty important part of Photoshop, to do those specific adjustments on an image. As Corey said before, sort of in his notes of what he might like done with an image like this, we would probably take it a bit farther, which is sorta why I brought up this other image, which actually was close to a completed image there. Just so I don't, you know, kinda waste your guys' time as far as, really all we're doing are very similar processes to that, that I just showed you, in specific areas. And for you know, a specific look. But, what I will jump into really quickly here is, we'll hop back to this image that I was working on before. We will just act like we have it toned and ready to go, kind of in a style that Corey might like.
And then I'll walk into the back room and I'll say, "Man, Bly, that quickdraw "is just really bothering me." And so I think maybe you can talk through the quick and dirty of, your client has called, or you just made the aesthetic choice of we need to get rid of that quickdraw, and how do you do it.
So... You know, taking things out and adding things on images is kind of the next, I don't wanna say the next step in Photoshop, but it's a little bit more specific, it's a little bit more complicated, as far as just making kind of those adjustment layers with your layer mask there. But I like two specific tools for this which make it very easy. That being the Clone Stamp tool, (Corey sneezes) as well as the Healing Brush tool. And with the Clone Stamp tool, what it allows us to do is pull sections of an image, and move them to other sections of the image. And what it allows us to do then is remove features from an image. So what I've done here is Layer > New > Layer. You can see a shortcut there, Shift + Apple + N. And we have a new layer here that's popped up again on top of all of our adjustment layers there. These little checkered boxes mean it's a clear layer, there's nothing there, I can toggle it on and off. It hasn't, you know, affected the image in any way yet. Now what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna use the Clone Stamp tool, which is over here in our tool panel. Shortcut is S. Which will bring up a brush, similar to a normal brush there. And what I'm gonna do is sort of adjust the brush size to pull some of these features of the rock that are similar to what might be behind the quickdraw, and pull them from, you know, I'm gonna tell it where to pull from. And the way that I do that is I hold down Alt. Or Option, same key. And what it gives me is this little bullseye, cross-hairs. And when I click, at any section in the image, it's going to pull that feature from that section of the image. And my apologies here, I have a low flow on my brush. Make sure that your brushes usually stay, you know, if something's not working properly, you can always go up and that's a quick fix. Usually I forget to put those back where I want them. So I'm gonna just grab a little section of this rock, that might be, you know, a similar pattern to what I want, and see if we can kind of do this just really quick and dirty. What you really wanna be careful with this tool, and I see a lot with what people do, you can see that I'm hitting Alt a lot, very often. And the reason for that is so that I'm grabbing little features from different areas of the rock, so that I don't end up with repeating patterns. If I was to just grab a big brush like this, and try and cover it with a section of rock from over here, and I click this, to an untrained eye, it might look fine. But when you look closer, we zoom in a little bit, you can see all I've done is I've repeated that section of the image, just a little farther to the right. And it looks wrong. People will realize that and see it.
That's right, and I think, you know, Bly's doing a quick and dirty illustration of how to get rid of the quickdraw. There's also specific direction, if he's taking his time. We don't wanna get rid of the bolt hanger, right, because that's part of this story. David did put a bolt in the wall right there, it's just it turned out he couldn't clip that bolt because the climbing was so difficult as he passed that bolt hanger. So again, it's easier to just remove it all. Bly just illustrated that, you know, with one click of the mouse it's all gone. But I would give fairly specific direction, because I had later shot a lot of photos where the quickdraw's gone but you see the hanger. So to that point, we would leave the hanger when it's all said and done.
Correct, so my apologies for doin' the quick and dirty work here. But you can see with, you know, some time, and using lots of brushstrokes, and pulling from lots of different areas that have those similar textures and colors, you can eventually kind of cover up something like that in a very discreet way. Hopefully discreet, that's the ultimate goal, right, is to kinda show, and as long as you're honest with everybody, say the client, that you did remove that, ultimately you want no one else to know that you did.
So again, we can switch back to this original image here, where this bolt still is there, and kinda goin' back and forth.