Flat Light Post-Processing
Let's get into image where you are kinda have flat light, and what do I do to it? Okay? And it's like, I'm not given much here, but what is my process with that? And so let's see what we can do there. So, let's say I'm in this image, right? It's a good image. There is some light coming down, but it's generally a flat area there. So, I'm gonna do the same thing, bring the shadows down here, highlights here. Lemme see what my maximum dynamic range is first, and then I'll kinda work it from there. Right there, like there. I think it's right about there. Cool. All right? So that looks very, very, you know, HDR-ish, so I wanna pull that down. Right. And give me some color toning there. Right. And then, deal with that vibrance. I like pulling my saturation down. Okay? And then, adding vibrance there. So, it doesn't mess with the skin tone that much. Okay? And then you play with the curves. Here and there. Right? Okay, so the main thing here is I wanna make this a little bit more interesting ...
than it is. Okay? And so, let's say I wanna kinda mess with this, the tonality of the picture, okay? And just change it up, so it's not so dull. And so what I love doing, and you can do this a couple different ways, where you can get into the split toning. That's correction, sorry about that. Split toning here, right? And so, you can change the color of the highlights. So, if I bring the saturation up, okay, and I move this around, you can see the different highlights that you can get. Another way to do it is just open up this color bar, and select how you like those highlights to be. Okay? And so, and then you can also change the saturation level like this. Well, did you see that? Just a slightly pink tone-- is cool in there, and what I love doing too is bringing some blue into the dark areas, just to open up those blacks. So, a lot of my style is kind of pinkish highlights. Right? And then, blue shadows. And that's what gives you my tone. And so here, I can change the saturation, right? And now, see that? I can change the lower tones to whatever I want. Here. Okay? And you can choose somethin' right there. And then, now, I can change that to whatever I want. Just to add that tone to it. So now, it's given a little bit-- so that's what I started from, and that's where I'm kind of ending. I'm giving it a little bit of blue in the darks, which I really love. And then you can finesse it, too. And so, you want this to be brighter. Right? To create a dynamic, so I can do a global here, exposure, and I can drag that. And see how they're highlighted more, by just dragging that gradient tool? So now, you're focus is on them, because you're making it that brightest part of the image. Okay? And you can also mess with the exposure level of that, to come in and out, just like that to do what you want. And that generally gets what you want. Okay? And then, again. What I did here, so that was kinda like the finished image that I did, right? So, what you can do, is bring it also into Alien Skin again. And then, really bust that up, and choose a color effect, that can give you that feel to it. And what I like doing is if you put a highlight in this corner here, then it's believable that there possibly could be their light, even though there's a wall there. If you always put in in the corner, that highlight, it's like, well, it could be over there because I don't even know what's up there. And so whenever I add a bright highlight, when I'm adding it, I put it in the corner, because there's no other information up there, so you just leave it up to your imagination, what could be there, and so it's a little bit-- but if I put a bright sun spot right in the middle here, it's like, there's no way that could happen right there. There's no way sun could be coming through at that angle, right? But if I put a highlight up at the top there, then, you know, maybe there could be that. I'm not sure. And so what I'll do, is I like to find one of my effects, right, where it's giving me kind of a highlight in the corner. You see how that's up at the top? Well, it could be like that. Maybe I switch that around, like there could be some sun coming through there. I'm not quite sure. Okay, I believe it. So, a lot of post processing is about creating it, and making it believable, too. And that's part of the process of it. Okay? So, now I can change the opacity of that. But now, I got a flat picture, but I'm giving it some highlight there, to give it some interest. Just like that, okay? And so these are some of my own little lighting effects that I threw in there, that I use to kind of give you that. Then, you can kinda come back, and save it. And then, you can kinda mess with the toning again, if you want to, afterwards, but generally, like, if ah-- let's just see some global adjustments. Oh yeah, I kinda like it warmer like that. I kinda like it bluer like that. And that looks pretty cool. And I like that effect. Bam, going with it, right? Then, you can do the skin smoothing on top of that, and everything else. So, that's one way to pizzazz up an image that's kind of flat. Right? In an overcast situation there.
I wanted to ask one quick question, and then I think we have a quick one in the audience, and that was, for people who have not heard of Alien Skin, or haven't used it, could you just explain what it is?
What it is, okay. So, Alien Skin, can be a stand alone, like, you could use it because it does organizing of your photos. It's kind of like Lightroom, and it does all that kind of stuff, too, and it's a stand alone product, where you can rate your images, and then edit 'em, and bring it in, and you can use it like that. Or, you can use it as something that complements another program. So, in this case, I'm using it to complement my Lightroom adjustments. And you could also have it complement your Photoshop, too. And you can bring it up. After you've messed with your image in Photoshop, you can say, "Okay, I did that in Photoshop. "Let me edit in in Alien Skin now." And then use those effects. Okay? Because every program has its pluses and minuses, and you have to figure out which one works good. I love Alien Skin, because it gives me those, it's easy to add those textures, and those lighting textures, and then on the presets, it gives me color toning that's really easy for me to change, and consistently repeatable. Yes?
Yes, the question is: If you don't have those programs in Mac, 'cause I work in PC, can I do that filter--
Kind of like, filter you put, in Photoshop, for example?
Oh, like, let's say you--not using Alien Skin?
No, I don't have it. No.
Can you do it in Photoshop?
Yes, you can. You just have to manually bring it in. Okay? You can bring those, I don't have those textures here separately, so I can't show you, but you can bring the texture in, and then all you do is change the mode of it. So, you bring the texture in, and then you either change it to multiply, or overlay, or screen. Okay? Screen makes everything brighter. Multiply makes everything darker. So, if you have a very dark background-- Let's say, you're shooting, and there's a lot of negative darkness there, right, you could bring in this overlay, and select screen, and it will make it brighter. Okay? Or if you have no sky, and you bring a sky in, which I'll demonstrate, and you hit multiply, then that makes it darker. So, let's do that. So, let's go in and do a really easy, how I change my skies, okay? SO, this is what I was given, okay? And so, I shot this in camera. And so, let me show you how I change the sky of this. So, lemme just quickly-- do this without a lot of-- Okay. So, let's bring that in, and now that I've added flash here, I've got a little pop in the image. It's okay for me to add a little contrast in the sky, and still look believable. And lemme show you a trick on how to mesh this together, so it doesn't look like, "Oh, you popped a sky in!" You know, you see some of those images, where it doesn't-- Oh yeah, obviously they popped that in? Let me show you how to blend that in, a trick that I use. Okay? So, I'm gonna edit this-- in Photoshop. And I'm gonna do exactly what you asked, okay? So now, I'm gonna open up another-- Now, what's great if you're online with Adobe, you can keep your assets online, always accessible. You can have files and pictures back there. Okay? So, I put a lot of my clouds in there. And so, when I need it, it's always there, and I drag it in. But in this case, it's on the laptop, so I gotta find it. So, I'll take cloud number one. And so, we'll open this up. Okay, so there's my sky. All right? So, I'll select all. I'll copy it. And then, I'll paste it right down. Okay? And so now, I wanna enlarge this sky. I can position it. And I hit transform. I transform it, which is command T, and then if you hold option and shift at the same time, it will equally increase it. So, it's right there in the center, right? And so whatcha gotta do is you come over here, right were that skyline is, kinda meshes together. Right? And double click that. If you did that like, that is totally fake. (laughs) Okay? And so, if I hit multiply, now, it's starting to get there a little bit, right? And so, the areas that it's overlapping, and that you don't wanna see, you could do a couple things. You could delete it. But what a kind of a cool way is is you could select those areas that are overlapping there, that you don't want. Right? And you could Gaussian blur it to death, and it would slightly go away. So, you gotta wrap it way-- See that? Isn't that cool? I get excited about stuff like that. See that, it adds a cool fade, right? And so now, you kinda blend it in right there. Right? And it looks natural there. But it still doesn't look natural enough to me. Okay? I am shooting with a shallow depth of field, right? And if my sky is kind of sharp, that's throwing it off. So, a lot of times, you gotta go in, and you gotta blur that sucker. Okay? So, Gaussian blur it and-- that's way too much. So, I start at zero. And then you just say what looks believable to you. Okay? Okay, it's starting to be cool right there. I don't know. I'm not thinking about it too much, but you know, you decide on what it should be. Okay? And then, you're starting to blend it out. But it still looks like a pasted sky to me. So what I do is, you know what? You don't have to do it at full strength. And so, the less strength you give it, the more it's blending, and the more believable. Because that's what I started with, right? And so if I start to blend that in, there, then that's perfect right there. Then, on top of that, let's flatten that. Now, let's tie this all together. So, what I do, the reason why it doesn't look together is that the highlights and the lowlights aren't the same color. So, that's what I'd do, is I'd go over that, and I have this action called blue yellow. So it automatically makes things blue, and makes things-- So the yellow part here, are the highlights. And so what that is, is I select a color, and I fill it in that yellow, and I choose multiply, because that makes it darker. Whatever's lighter, it's gonna make darker. And then, on the blue, I'd make a blue layer, and I'd change that to screen, because whatever's dark, it's gonna make it bluer. And now, see how it looks tied together, color-wise? And I an adjust the opacity of how much yellow I want, and how much blue I want, to give it what I want. Right? And now, it looks tied together. So, you've got that, and you've got that, so that's what we started with, right? And that's what we ended with, but it looks tied together. And the key is that the highlights and the shadows are matched, and that's what you wanna do.