How to shoot Landscape with Adobe Photoshop in Mind
I wanted to jump into kind of a little bit more Photoshop stuff. Like, where does Photoshop come into play for a lot of this stuff? Because I think what happens is there's some things we can actually plan in the field to make our life easier later on. There's some things that, if we wanna do right in the field, sometimes it's, you almost need to do something later on. So a few of those things would be a polarizer, shooting with a polarizer. If you ever, you know, take a look at an example that I have here. If you ever look at a wide angle lens with a polarizer, what happens? Well, you're gonna put a wide angle lens on, you put this polarizer on, and because of the way the polarizer interacts with the sun, you get this kinda deep scoop, almost, in the photo. So let's say I take that polarizer off, all right? So what did I lose? Well, what I lost, 'cause I didn't really care about making the sky blue, right? So I don't ever really use a polarizing filter to make a sky blue, 'cause I thin...
k that's an easy saturation tweak in Lightroom or Photoshop. What I use a polarizer for the most is when I want to kinda subdue reflections and glare. So this is polarized, this is not. See the difference? See how flat and kinda blah that looks? So that's why I had the polarizer on. Look how nice the sand looks, as well. So it takes that white, non-nice glare off of things. So what I did, I just kept my camera on a tripod. I took one photo where I turned the circular polarizer so it was on. I took another photo where I turned it to where it was off. So they're both lined up. And then what we do is, I kinda showed you, or I alluded to it earlier in the day, but Open as Layers in Photoshop. So what this'll do is it'll stack both images together over inside of Photoshop. So now I have the polarized version and I have the non-polarized version on top of it, okay? So from here, it becomes basically erase, right? We just need to erase the parts of the photo that we don't wanna keep. So what do I have? On the top layer, I've got the good sky, but I have the foreground that I don't want. On the bottom layer, I've got the bad sky, but I've got the foreground I want. So what I do. There are a couple different ways we could go with this. Method number one. This is for if you're just starting out with Photoshop and you're kinda not quite comfortable with masking and all that stuff, we go really simple, all right? We take our top layer. Got the good sky, bad foreground. I press E to get to my eraser tool, okay? It's just a brush. And all I do is erase, probably at 100% opacity, I just erase, and now I'm, whoa, I went a little bit too far there. Just erase away all that stuff, all right? I'm not gonna be real particular about it. But just erase it all away, okay? So what it's doing is if you look at that layer, if I turn the bottom one off, I'm just basically erasing a hole. Cutting out a hole. It's like I took scissors on a photo and I cut it all out, and now it's showing me what's underneath it, okay? That's the, you know, you're kinda just starting out, not quite comfortable with masks. Easy to do, still works. It is destructive. That means when I save this file, close it, I come back to it, and I decide I wanna change something, I won't be able to do it 'cause I will have permanently deleted all that stuff. So if you wanna go the non-destructive route, what you do is just click the little layer mask button at the bottom here, okay? And we're gonna make a selection. So let's take our quick selection tool, and I'm just gonna make a selection... A lotta times people ask, what do you make a selection of, the sky or the foreground? I usually do what's easiest. So the sky looks pretty easy here. So I'll just quickly select the sky. If it happens to select too much, like it did over here, notice it's got a plus icon. Plus means it'll add to the selection. If I hold down Option or Alt, minus. So go over here and say you went and selected too much, take it away. A little bit over there, too. Okay. So now here's the way layer masking works is it only accepts black and white, okay? So we get, and then we can get caught up and think, okay, what does black do, what does white do, whatever. Right now the layer mask is white. If I want to affect this layer mask, what's the only thing I can do? Black, right? Paint on it with the opposite color. So I want to affect the layer mask and I wanna hide that foreground. The trick is I selected the sky. So if I wanna get access to the foreground, I just go Select, Inverse. So it just selected everything but the sky, okay? And now we wanna fill that with what color? Edit, Fill, Foreground Color, and change that to black. So you see that happened there? If you look at the layer mask, all black and white. So when you're thinking what do I do with the layer mask, if it's all white, paint on it with black. It's all black, paint on it with white. Just switch between the two. It's gotta be one or the other. So do you, the best thing about layer masks is, if you're wondering which, if it's, try black. If it doesn't work, try white. There's a 50/50 shot you're gonna be right the first time. Okay? So I'll kinda, I'll go over that one more time. We selected the sky, all right? I don't wanna do anything with the sky. It was just easy to select from. So I go to Select, Inverse. Selects the foreground, the opposite of whatever I had selected, okay? And then we know we have to fill it with a color. It's not white, so I just go Edit, Fill, Foreground Color, my foreground color is black here. I could also just go to Color and change that to black, as well, or just choose black. So there's a couple different things you could do in there, but just fill it with black. So now if you look, now I got my good sky. If I turn that layer off... Good sky, good foreground. So when you're done, same thing as before. File, Save. Close it. Head back over. It just made me a copy. Okay? So that's now my new file that I can start to work with. I can edit this in Lightroom if I want to. It's still, it's not, just 'cause it's not a RAW file doesn't mean I can't do something to it. I can still do whatever I want to it. So I can edit it in Lightroom. I can do whatever I need to. But that is now my new file. So when you think about, when you're out there shooting and these situations come up, you know, I wanna use a polarizer, I wanna use a polarizer not for the sky, but I wanna use it for something in the foreground, you got that wide angle lens on, this is something to think about that I can do later, okay? All right, let's take a look at, what's another one here? So we got polarized. Let's take a look, oh, here's another good one. So I get asked this question a lot. It's funny, because I don't shoot it a lot. So I actually still have, like, I've done this demo before, and somebody says, like, hey, you know, I saw you do on those photos before, I'm like, 'cause that's, I don't do it a lot. I don't do, it's called focus stacking. But you're basically, what you're saying is... Hold on a sec. It's going to the library here. What you're saying is I got my foreground, I got my background. So what happens is when we were in the field, we talked about where we focus. We kinda focused up close, and what happens there? When we focus up close on something, if I'm shooting at, like, f/16, everything in the back is still gonna be sharp, but it's not gonna be quite as sharp, especially if I have something really close to the camera. I usually don't sweat it. It's still, it's gonna be sharp enough. I'm not too worried about it. But I can't deny that I get asked about focus stacking just about everywhere I go where people want super, super sharpness from front to back, and if you want that super ultimate sharpness from front to back, you really have to take two photos, one for the front, one for the back, okay? You'll hear things like, what's it called? It's escaping me now. The way to calculate the... Hyperfocal distance. Hyperfocal. So you've all heard of hyperfocal distance? It's great, but just understand it's still not gonna change, it doesn't necessarily make your camera sharper. It's just giving you a way to kinda figure out where's the best place to focus in the photo to get the best sharpness from front to back. But still whatever you focus on is gonna be the sharpest point in the photo and what's in back is still not gonna be quite there. So if you wanna go that route... If you wanna go that route, first of all, I moved a folder, and apparently I wasn't supposed to do that, because it's got my focus stack image inside of it. So let's just make sure I put it back in. That's what I get for trying to clean something up. Hold on, hold on. There we go, create... See, I got all good. I cleaned it up. So let's go to... And this would be a good exercise for you, because inevitably sometimes you will see that there's a photo missing. You click the little exclamation point, Locate, and we will go to... We will go down to, God, I forgot. Where did I put it? Do as I say... There we go. 10 Things, Photoshop Basics, and... More Layers. You guys just turn away while I'm doing this. You don't have to... No, there we go. So that was focus-stack1. So if you ever do lose a file and you need to link up just one file, that would be the way to do it. You know what's funny is somebody will always come up and ask a question and say, so I moved a folder and I'm getting the question marks or I can't find it, and they say, so I don't know where it is. I'm like, if you don't know where it is, your computer definitely doesn't. Like, Lightroom's not gonna know where it is if you don't know where. So that's the first step in that. You have to kinda know where it is. Okay, so we got foreground, background. We do the same thing we did before. Shift + click to select. We go Photo, Edit in, Open as Layers. It's gonna bring us into Photoshop and stack 'em both on top of each other, okay? So what do we got here? All right, we got the first photo. This one is focused up close. So this is all sharp. This one's not quite in focus. That one's a little softer. We got the second photo. That one's sharper, this is softer, okay? So what we do is I'm gonna show you two ways. One is gonna be the automatic way that will work sometimes. So Shift + click. It's pretty cool. And I wish I could say it always works. It sometimes works on this one. I don't understand. Photoshop wakes up in a bad mood some days. But you go to Auto-Blend Layers, and there's an option here to stack images. So what it's really meant for is... Focus stacking, you know, a lot of times your focus stacking is, like, let's say I have a macro lens and I'm taking a picture of a close-up of a flower or insects or some close-up stuff. If you're that close, even if you shoot it at f/22, you're still gonna have a lotta blur, so you're not gonna get that whole photo in focus. So what you do is you focus at different points in the photo, and you can use this focus stacking to bring them all together. So that's a little bit more of what it was created for than this, but this still works. So I choose Stack Images, click OK. Check it out. Look at the masks. Like, that's what it did automatically. So pretty crazy stuff. It worked pretty good here. You know, I don't have, I mean, a little bit of a blemish over here that I could probably retouch away, but that's not too bad. Now, it's not always gonna work for you. So I'll undo. If it doesn't work, you go the manual way, and the manual way is exactly the same thing as we did in that last example, okay? You could select that layer, E for eraser, and just go over here and erase all that. Okay? Or if you wanna go a little bit further, add a layer mask to the layer. The layer mask is white. I'm gonna take my brush tool. What color do I have to pain on it with? Black. So I set my foreground color to black. Incidentally, if you didn't know, when you press B... Let's go over here to a layer. When I have my foreground and background color, if I press D, it sets to their defaults. Defaults are black and white. So if I press D, it just automatically goes to the defaults. If I press X, it swaps the defaults. So whatever color... Or it swaps the colors. So whatever you have over here, X swaps foreground with background. D is always gonna set it to the default. So now I take my brush tool and just brush. Again, spend some time on it. Zoom in. Like so. Cool? Just like before, File, Save. Sends it right back to Lightroom, and you'll get a third copy of the image. So again, something to think about when you're out there if you're super, super critical. (sighs) I don't do it a lot. I don't do that a lot at all. It's too much work. It's, you know, the... If I'm in front of a scene where I'm like, wow, like, this is epic. It is gonna change my life forever. I am gonna make, I am gonna be able to sell this photo 'cause nobody else in the world has this photo and it is amazing. I wanna make sure I'm gonna shoot it every way possible, you know? I'll shoot it at f/16, focus up, you know, in the front area, make my normal shot that I can do one photo process with, and then I'll take my time and maybe do some focus stacking and focus at a few different spots in the photo. But I don't do it a lot. Like, the reason why I don't have another example of it is because I just don't do it a lot. Okay, any, we good on... Yes?
When you are taking images to stack, do you in any way try to mark them so when you import them in, you know which ones you had planned to stack?
And, you know, you can even take that question a little bit further when we're taking a panorama. I should've said that during the video, because I forgot. But when you're taking a panorama, same thing. You know, like, how many times do you ever, you ever looking through your photo library and you're like, man, that's a stupid photo. Like, why did I take that? When, and then you later realize, oh, it was part of a pano, you know? So really the only thing that you can do is I put my hand in front of the camera, take a picture, and then when you're done with the series, you put your hand in front of the camera, take a picture again. Depends how much you really, like... Depends on your memory a lotta times. You know, if, I mean, you can get as detailed as you want. Part of it is you have to remember your own rules. So, like, do you put your hand in front of the camera and do one, click, and that means the start of the pano, or the start of the stack, and then your hand in front of the camera and two at the end, or do you just put your hand in front of the camera, and then you see the two, like, what is the two? Is the two two photos? Is the two this? You know, you start to forget your own rules, too, so... All depends. But yeah, putting your hand in front of the camera's a good... As long as you can remember why you did it. Coming from a person who forgets where they put their car keys every single day, you can imagine how all this stuff, and I forget what I was doing. All right, we're good? No, yeah?
So your file sizes are getting pretty big when you're doing all this stacking and pano and merging. Do you ever flatten them or merge the layers in Photoshop before you save them?
Did you just say the Photoshop F-word?
So that, do I ever flatten and merge and all that. So me personally, yes. Kinda goes back to something we talked about in the beginning right before our break. You know, it's personal. In the beginning, I usually tell people use layers. Give yourself an out and get used to that work flow. Now that I'm used to the work flow and I feel fairly confident that the changes I'm making are good. Remember, I'm not working for clients, right? So I'm not necessarily making my photos for a client, so my, I'm not, I don't have to give 'em to a client and then the client wants to make a change and they come back. Most of the time I'm my client, so most of the time I'm gonna make sure I don't make changes to my photos. But, you know, when I am making something for somebody else, I do tend to work a little bit more non-destructively in case they wanna go back. But when it's for myself, yeah, I flatten all the time, yeah. I try to keep my layers palette as small as possible. And yeah, you're right, it makes your file size huge, especially shooting with these larger megapixel cameras, you know, imagine you open up an 85 megabyte image, you duplicate the layer, I mean, just duplicating the layer is, just shoots up your file sizes. So it's definitely something to watch out for.