Filters - Regional Dynamics


Landscape Photography


Lesson Info

Filters - Regional Dynamics

We basically have a couple things to go over, three things to go over especially. Number one: I want to show you what I call regional dynamics, which is where I take masks, the filters, and use those to just concentrate on regions of the picture. After you've done all this, what I call global edits, and that's encompassing the whole entire image. So I want to show you that, and then I've been talking a lot about this merge to 32 bit with all these bracketed files. So, the really good part about that is it's pretty darn simple. All right, so I'm going to show you that, and then I'm going to go into Photoshop and I'm going to show you how simple it is to manually blend some of those files as well. And last, if I have some time, I also want to show you just something special that happened, so if some crazy reason I just keep going and forget, just remind me, Russ. Throw something at me. All right, so here we are. We are at regional dynamics as I want to call it, and I just want to start o...

ut by saying that some images only require global edits. The light is very even, you don't need to go in and adjust the shadows, you don't need to adjust too much of the mid tones, you don't need to add maybe clarity or saturation, maybe a little bit, but all you need to do is set the highlight and shadow, and sometimes it's like a snowfield, or in this case it's the sky and tropics of the Philippines. But the reason I show you this example is there are places where there really is no other-- Except for tiny little regions that you need to effect. Okay, so, there are exceptions to this rule, but 99% of the time I'm going in and I'm effecting just the specific region after I do some of these global edits. And that's why I just call it regional dynamics. It's really dodging and burning in the old sense, okay? So what this does though is instead of just dodging and burning, this also changes contrast, color, clarity, and all those other things in those regions. So, I'm not just making it darker or lighter. I'm actually changing what could be the dynamic range of that spot. And the importance, and the reason I call it dynamics, is that it kind of mimics what your eyeballs do when you're scanning a scene, right? When you look up at the light, your irises shut down to a smaller aperture, and then it lets in more light, but it also changes the contrast. The same thing happens when you look down into a dark shadow, then your iris expands, and it changes not only the amount of light, but the amount of contrast. So, trying to incorporate all that in specific regions in the pictures is exactly why I call it that. The first thing I'm going to do is kind of go into the edit mode so that we don't see this panel on the left, and I want to go far over to the left side of the panel, and click that tiny little triangle there so that that disappears, especially when I move the cursor away. And this is a good way to work on your laptop because you don't have as much real estate or monitor space, but you still have the panels on the right, okay? I also do something else. I grab the panel on the right, and I drag it out so that I have a little more room to work. Click develop, and since I was in library I have to do it again, go back over here, and turn off the HSL, and come up here to the very top, and this is where I have the three tools that I'm going to use in this demonstration: graduated filter, and the... Come on, baby. Radial filter, and then of course the adjustment brush, okay? All three of these have short cut keys, but just to make it simple here I'm going to click on that filter, and you can see this panel comes up below it, and a mistake I see constantly is this basic panel looks very similar, okay? So sometimes when you have both of those open, you don't know what which slider you're moving and you're wondering why it's not affecting the area that you've selected, so just a reminder: close that basic tab so that you're only looking at the sliders from that graduated filter. This right here is called a button, and that marks where the filter is. If I delete it then we can see the original file, and the way the picture was taken. Two things that are important about this, number one is when I make that filter, I'm going to set this all back to zero, if you double tap effect, no matter what you've done, it sets all those back to zero. And that's very helpful sometimes when you don't know what you want to undo. In this case I'm going to underexpose it a little bit, add some contrast, and add some clarity. This is where I use clarity a lot is in the regions, not necessarily for the whole picture. I'm going to click and drag down. And the further I drag, the more gradation there is, okay, so this is like that split graduated filter that you use on the front of your lens, and how far you drag depends on how much gradation you want. If you come up here and uncheck the button, obviously you can see the filter quite easily. So your job with this filter is to drag this apart far enough so that it's not discernible to the eye, but is affecting the correct region. All right? A couple things about this filter: number one, you can grab it in the middle, and turn it any way you want, okay? So what it's doing is... I'm going to delete this again. Remember, I've taken the exposure slider and I've moved it to minus 0.39 in this case. I've also added contrast and clarity. And I'm going to click, and where I click in the first position and drag in the opposite direction, it's actually making a mask of what's behind where I drag. Okay, so everything from this first point up, because that's the opposite direction of where I'm dragging is actually being affected 100% by the exposure of minus 139, the addition of contrast 31, and clarity of 39. And what's happening to those edits is that when you get down to the middle, it's now at 50%. When you get down to the last line and below, there's no effect of those sliders at all. So, again, the first place you click and the direction you drag is the... It sets where the filter goes. So I'm going to delete that again. If I come up here and I drag up, and I realize oops, I really don't want that that dark, well, you can obviously change that and lighten that area up. Okay, so once you make this filter right here, you can do whatever you want with it. You can move it around, rotate it, reset the sliders, all that is you're able to edit after you make the actual filter, so I'm just going to reverse that again, and I'm going to bring it back down to a place where I like it. And then the other thing I want to point out is when I get this edit made all I'm looking at is the sky. That's really what I want to see here. But what happened was, look at my histogram. Right? Because I... Just like cropping, when I reduce the luminance, or the exposure in that sky, I change the overall dynamics of the whole picture. So oftentimes after you're done with all three of these you have to go back into the tone curve and reset that to what it will be after... If I can grab that little guy there, what it will be afterwards. Sometimes it's just a little move, sometimes it's more, but oftentimes when I'm making these edits, especially in the graduated filter, I have to go back and reset the white point. Sometimes the black point. Okay, so one of the things that I do typically is bring down the exposure in the sky, I add contrast, and I add clarity. That gives those clouds real nice definition. But you can also do all these other things down here, okay? You've got temperature and tint, so if I wanted to I could make the sky more blue, I could make it warmer just in that region. You have all these tools. Remember you can double-tap on the actual tool to get it back to zero, and again you can add saturation, but unfortunately they don't have vibrance in the mask, and unfortunately they don't have a curve in the mask. Then I would be really happy, Adobe (laughs), if we could get that, but that's just the old skool in me. All right, so the other thing that's helpful once in a while is this color bar down here. Remember, I have selected just the mask up above, and so what I doing is I'm changing the color cast in that region as I move it around. And that can be quite helpful, and you're adding saturation as you go up and decreasing the saturation as you go down. So that's another way to change and effect that mask. Okay? The next tool I want to talk about is the radial filter, and in this case, when you take a picture like this, I'm going to show you the very end result, I also have to make the first move again just so that you guys see what's going on in this whole picture, so I'm going to bring that down across the whole image, and I'm going to include part of this ridge down here but I'm getting all the way down to the actual horizon is where I put that 50% demarkation and that's important because I don't want to affect too much of this ground down here with these edits, but I want to effect some, so... And I don't want it to be a nice-- A very tight, narrow edit. I want to keep this as far apart as possible. All right? In addition, you can even add another one. If you don't think the sky is edited enough, or you only want to select just another specific region that's much higher, so you can double up these and make as many as you want. The second one could even have a slight color change. Again, all these things are possible. Now, for the radial filter, if you go in here, and it's going to remember the last time you used it, so you have to double-tap effect again. In this case I want to add a little bit of clarity and possibly a little bit of exposure, but just to this region right here, because see that natural curve of the ridge, and so what I'm doing, a couple things: number one, this mask is default to effect what's outside of the area that you draw in. So it's a little bit in my mind, my dyslexic mind, it's counterintuitive. So you have to click that button down there which inverts the mask. Again, that's at the very bottom of this radial filter tool, okay? So once you select that, then you have the ability to basically click first, and instead of dragging in one direction you can drag in different directions, and change the shape of this tool. It's actually a wonderful way to make an effect and edit circles or shapes in a landscape. Unfortunately they don't have a square, but... Or a triangle. But you can do that with the brush. All right, so again, one of the edits I make constantly is to add clarity to some of these regions, especially in specific areas like this, I want to make this area a little brighter because I want our eyes to go there, if we consider the visual path. And I might want to make this area off in the background which is our distance, further away, affected in the same way. And this is really the benefit of this tool because if you make a graduated filter you can only affect one side of it, but with this filter you can drag it across the middle of the picture and go beyond the picture. And so now you're affecting this little band of light or of this region right in the middle of the picture, and I only want to make that slightly brighter so I'm going to bring that exposure down. It's just a little edit that you can see. Now I'm turning these filters on and off so that you guys get an idea that once you get out of that filter you don't see the button. You don't know that edit has been made, so you have to activate the filter and then you'll see the buttons, or the pins, sorry, as long as you have that chosen, okay, so it's either auto, selected never or always. I leave it on always, and that's way down here in the lower left-hand corner, and that's so that I know where I made those edits. I like buttons. They're called pins, but you get the idea. The other adjustment I want to make to this picture is to a very specific region and I'm not sure it's in any particular shape yet, but I do know that these are two people walking down this ridge, and a dog, and so I want that to be a little better read, so I'm going to go in there with the brush. And the brush is a little different, it's a little more complicated, not much, but you just have to set some preferences before you start using it. So, I went into the adjustment brush, and way down at the bottom of this panel you have some options for size. That changes by moving the slider back and forth, or you can come over the image and use a gesture on your track pad to change the size. But you also have feather, flow, and density. And then you have Auto Mask. I rarely ever use Auto Mask, okay? It just... It's easier to do this in Photoshop if you want to work quickly. For some reason Lightroom this is where it kind of slows the computer down if you're trying to use the Auto Mask, but it's designed to select a region based on the density of the pixels. I will show you an example where you could use it in the next picture, but 99% of the time I don't use Auto Mask, so uncheck that. And 90% of the time I have feather, flow, and density at 100%, so max those sliders out, all right? That's just to make it simpler. I want to make an edit here, and what I want to change, because those are affecting the amount of change that I make with these sliders. So before I even start applying this brush I'm going to move it towards the brighter sides, so I'm going to take the exposure slider and make it brighter, because I know that's what I want to do to this area down here, and I'm going to make the brush just big enough and start painting in that region along the ridge, okay? Maybe I'll hit these rocks a little bit on what could be the sunny side of them. And then I realize, ah, it's a little too bright, so I'm going to bring that down a little bit, and now I might add a little clarity so that it doesn't look as though it were soft light. Maybe it looks like a little harder light is hitting that ridge. Okay, and then I come back to the point where I realize you know, I'm not sure where I painted, so if you hover the cursor over the pin, I got it right that time, it's not a button, it's a pin, then it'll show the mask, okay? And that's something that you can choose down here as well. It's another little feature. If you check that button then it's going to show that overlaid mask of where you painted all the time. But I really don't want to see it all the time. I just want to know where it is once in a while when I hover over it. So, what I see here is that I went over this ridge a little bit down here in the lower left-hand corner. At the bottom of this panel you have the ability to erase, and if you check that box then it turns into an eraser for the mask. But the way I prefer doing it is holding the option key down, and that brings up the eraser, and you cannot perform this while you're on the fly. Go in there, change the size, and start erasing where you think you don't want the mask. Okay? So now I just eliminated some of that mask on the far left side of that ridge. And maybe I don't want as much right in the middle, right past the hikers. What I'm trying to do in a lot of these situations is I'm trying to dapple the light because sometimes in cloudy environments like this the light is really even. But like I said earlier when we're looking around there's a lot more interest in dynamics to what we're looking at than that even flat light. So to enhance that, I'm adding a little bit of brightness, which is exposure and clarity as well at the same time. Okay? And you can make as many of these as you want. There's another new one, and I can come up here and I can decide you know, I want to exaggerate the difference in the clouds a little bit and just keep painting. I'm not going to add that much light in this though, I'm going to make it a little darker, maybe add a little contrast, and maybe a little clarity. All right, so every time you make one of these edits, you're going to see here it's going to make a significant change to the sky. And that's just adding a little more character to the sky. It's not adding contrast to the whole thing, and that's why these edits are so important to making your images looking a little more sophisticated, rather than taking the contrast slider in the whole picture and just (lip squelch) cranking it over. Okay, so I'm going to go here to the final image which I did and you can see all the buttons that I used, and some of the places that I put them once it loads here. Again, this button right here or the pin I used to paint that in, and then I went over here to make another adjustment brush and I realized I wanted to make just those highlights brighter, so a whole 'nother rendition of the same picture, just by where I painted with the adjustment brush. In this case I was kind of highlighting this region off in the distance. Okay, now for this image, what I did, I want to show you how I used the Auto Mask. This was a castle in Scotland, and the light-- They turn the lights on right at blue hour so it's a wonderful picture to take and I got down low with the grasses blowing in the breeze, pointing right at our old barracks is what they were. But in order to highlight those grasses I had to come in here with the brush, and paint some of that exposure, clarity, and in this case a little bit of saturation into that area to give ourselves a better viewer's path. I'm just creating that light so that the eyeball goes from there up into the old barracks, and I'm exaggerating what's there. If I remove that, you can see it gets a little flat. There is some actual light in there though that's natural, so I'm really exaggerating the light that's there. In this case, up here on the barracks, you can see I painted a brush, and I'm going to zoom in a little bit here, so you can see it. If I paint just a brush even with a small brush and I start adding exposure to this, you can see it's a little difficult to get just the edge of the barracks. And so in this case and so some of that exposure adjustment goes over into the sky, and that's where you see that halo. So in this case you could try using the Auto Mask, and what that's going to do hopefully is just paint within that region of the barracks and leave the sky alone, okay? Now, just because you made a mask doesn't mean you can change this, you know, to 100%. But if you do, and you zoom in close you can see where the mask is effecting this data and where it's not. So if you ever question whether your mask is working, or is creating one of those things we call a ghost or a halo, then you can take one of these sliders and exaggerate it all the way. It's a good way to check your mask. And if you have a bright sky you can do it in the very same way by bringing it all the way to zero. Okay, so in this case I would probably use the Auto Mask just to lighten up that wall a little bit more. I would probably extend it all the way up, and make it a little more even, maybe go around the window, come down here a little bit more, come inside that dark side of the window, and once the mask is done, then I would crank it down a little bit so that it looks natural but just like it had a little bit of fill light, okay? Something I want to mention about working with these masks is that oftentimes we're wondering about well, you know, if I make this slider move, will it effect another region in a bad way? And so if I go back to this image here, and I want to use a graduated filter, and I'm going to exaggerate this a little bit and I'm going to make it really dark, like that, and I really wanted that drama, but I didn't want it to affect as much of the blacks in the rocks down here. Well, what I can do is I can come up to the shadow slider and drag that up, and you can see that all it's affecting is basically the shadows in that part of the picture. And so this is essentially just a luminance mask, which, you know, is very simple to make, you make the mask, and then you only affect one part of the scale of the luminance of the picture, whether it's the shadows, or the highlights, you have that choice, depending on what edit you're trying to make. Okay, this is another example I want to show you real quick. This is before, and after. So obviously I've added quite a bit of saturation, and I've added some of these nice radial filters, so I'm going to go into the develop module, come up here and look at the radial filter, and there they are. What I've done with these though is I've made them mimic the shape of the tops of the fog, and so this is something you can use in all kinds of different shapes, but I'm trying to emulate exactly what's there in nature. I'm not trying to make a new highlight. However, on that note, if you take this, then you come over here, so it's graduated, if you take this and you drag it an a 45 degree angle, and you put it up high enough, basically what you can do is create a shaft of light. And so you could call this the shaft filter. Or the light ray filter, depending on where you want light rays. You can exaggerate all kinds of sunbeams this way. So, this might be where your little meter of whether it's accurate of whether it's photography or illustration might be pegging the upper limits of what we're doing here, but in the end it's just fun to know that these filters can be used for things like that. All right. Go back to where I was. I'm going to go back to the history, and go back to how it was when I started. I'm addition, what I did is I made a couple of these right around the tops to these trees, because that's an area where if you exaggerate the contrast in a specific area, that's going to be one of the cues for your viewer to see that region first. Remember it's one of those just like a pattern almost of how we guide our eye. This one is actually encompassing a much larger area, and I'm adding clarity, quite a bit of clarity. You can see the difference that it's making, it's just adding that contrast in those areas, and speaking of contrast I added a little more contrast as well. Okay? And then I have one of the graduated filters up here, let me go back to hit fit, and you can see what I did. I added contrast, quite a bit, and clarity. I wanted to exaggerate. You guys remember what that was called? That gradation in the morning and in the evening where the Earth is casting a shadow in the atmosphere? One of my favorite gradations: the Earth's shadow. And so that's what I wanted to exaggerate there because without it, it's very difficult, or a little more difficult to see it than the actual gradation. Okay. So, those are the three I would say key features of editing, and specifically regions in the picture. The way I learned this method was in Photoshop, and so eventually as Lightroom started adding these I think they had the adjustment brush first, I don't know what came next, but the radial filter is recent. And so these things have kind of evolved in Lightroom, because a lot of times we don't like to go into Photoshop because it takes more time, so I like to bring that up because now we're going to go into Photoshop, but just briefly, okay? So what I'm going to do is I'm going to switch gears here and go into how to merge these files that we've been taking with brackets into a 32 bit file. Before I go there, do we have any specific questions about the masks? The graduated filter, the radial filter, or the adjustment brush. Anybody in the room? I think probably good to keep going. I mean, one question from Teo and three others: "When using the mask, "does it degrade the quality of the picture any?" Yeah, good question, and I just happen to have the right image up because you can see by adding all that clarity that I've gained some noise. So what's happening is you're exaggerating the difference between the dark pixel and the light pixel, and in doing so it looks speckled, and in some cases also you're eliminating some, you're making some of those darker pixels brighter, and that's what's causing some of that less usable dynamic range. So yes, you're degrading the file, but again, it's a compromise worth making. At least in my opinion. And that's where it gets into the question of how far do you bring it? Well, that's what you want to consider is how much drama do you want compared to how much degradation of the file will you accept, so... That actually kind of leads nicely into another question from Diana I. and five other people wanting to ask it, and you might be covering this later: "If an image has noise, "at what point in the work flow would you remove it?" Okay, good question. Because what I need to do is I also need to show you guys how to create an input profile which is going to deal with some of that noise, but oftentimes I'll do those basic noise reduction movements inside the detail panel upon import, and then after I do these modifications, you can see how it effects it. Then I'll add more noise reduction, or in some cases less or change the mask.

Class Description

Good landscape photography begins with a passion for the great outdoors. Let Marc Muench show you how to capture the beauty of the scenery you love – in a photograph.

Marc is a third-generation photographer with a deep understanding of the magic and technical complexity of landscape photography. In Landscape Photography, he’ll teach you the skills and insights essential to memorable photographs of the natural world. Marc will help you:

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