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Landscape & Portrait Workflow

Lesson 5 from: Post-Processing Workflow for Portraits and Landscapes

Blake Rudis

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Lesson Info

5. Landscape & Portrait Workflow

Lesson Info

Landscape & Portrait Workflow

Portrait and landscape workflow where it's the two of them combined. We have a portrait and we have a landscape. And it's an image that, you know, as I was looking through some stock images, I wanted to find something that wasn't perfect. You know, I wanted to find something that was like okay this will be a challenge. I like the image, I like the composition, I do. Some people would look at it and say it's very central and you've got too much sky up here and the focal point's suppose to be on them and there's all this stuff going on around them. How can we isolate this and make them the focal point of the image and really make the shine so to speak. So for this, I'm gonna do something that commonly do and I make what I call a low dynamic range image. Not a high dynamic range image. Not an image that has a ton of contrast. But an image that's very low contrast and low dynamic range because this allows me to go into Photoshop and really exploit certain things in the image to make things...

darker, to make things brighter. It sets you up with a good baseline and a foundation to build upon as far tones and colors are concerned. Especially because I do this really cool thing where I isolate my highlights, my midtones, and my shadows and you can actually see what a highlight and midtone and shadow is. This is where I get real amped up. This is where we crank it up and we go to junior year. Yeah. So the cool thing about this is that here we have highlights and we have shadows, and we have whites and we have blacks and we know what those are, but we don't ever know what those are do we? We don't technically know what a highlight is. We don't technically know what a shadow is because we can't see that. We don't have something in Adobe Camera Roll that we can click some crazy hot key and see oh those are my highlights. We just have to trust that this software is giving me a highlight. Or trust that this software is giving me a shadow based off of repeated patterns of luminous values. Which to me is not a very good way to post process an image. I would rather know exactly what's happening with those and have complete control over it. So what I'm gonna do with this, is I'm gonna make that low dynamic range image but before I do that. So the preliminary thing is that this person took a decent photo to get me started with my baseline image. It's not blowing out in my, it's not clipping in my shadows. It's not clipping my highlights. It's got data in it that I can use and I can exploit. But there's some thing that I need to clean up. So we talked about the second phase is the boring stuff. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna zoom in back here because there's a boat right behind his head. And I'm just gonna go over to the the healing brush here, make it a little bit bigger and just paint over that and get that out of the way, okay. And then I'm gonna look at some other things and see if there's anything else in here that I need to get rid of. I might even do that over here too. I'm really nitpicky. The more time you spend on doing this now, the better because this is the foundation of things. If you go in and try to do this later in Photoshop, it can make your life kind of a mess. You know, because you wanna stay on the tracks that you're on. The track that we're on right now is cleanup. The track that we're gonna be on next is the post production side where we're getting into the tones and the colors and stuff. If you have to fix it later, go ahead and fix it later but the best thing is to fix it now. And you know, when we look at this, I'm also even so picky that I don't even really like what's happening right here with this little black speck sticking out out of the water. It's in the image, I know but I could've walked out there and took it out of the image and that's what I'm doing right now. My boots are a little wet. I'm gonna go ahead and make that low dynamic range image by coming in here and really dropping down the highlights and bringing up the shadows. Your typical HDR look that you would never do on a portrait, right? Exactly because it makes us look like coal miners and really odd looking people. But what it does here is it as you noticed, it bring those highlights down allowed me to see more of my sky. Bringing those shadows up allowed me to see more of the stuff that's happening inside these rocks which is gonna give me a really good foundation when I go into Photoshop to separate those elements. So sometimes I use this preliminary phase, or this pre-processing phase to do minor tone adjustments. And this is what I would call a minor tone adjustment because it's just setting me up to exploit the rest of it later in Photoshop. So we're gonna open this up. And we open up this image. We're gonna make fit all in the screen here. And I'm gonna go ahead and show you how I make one of these. And then tell you that in the downloads for this course, you're gonna have an actions sections there where you can install that action. Installing an action is really easy. You either double click the .atn file, it should automatically open you up in Photoshop. Or you go into your actions file, you drag it, and drop it in there into your actions pallet. And if you don't have the actions pallet there at all, you go up to window and you can just select actions here or press Alt-F9. So many way you get into those actions, but actions are ways that you can make your life so much more efficient. They can do, sometimes you look at actions in the form of presets and other times they're things that set you up for a good workflow. I tend to use them as a way to set me up for a good workflow. So I'm gonna show you how to make one of these first, and then I'm gonna tell you that there's actions so that I can press play on this and you can all watch how it works because I've been creating actions for like ten years now and every time I press that play button I still get excited. So I might dance, maybe. So I'm gonna go up here and go to select. And I'm gonna go to color range. And in the color range, I can either select the sampled color and make this sampled color a mask to protect that area. That's basically saying that anything that's white in this area is gonna be affected if I were to make that selection. But if I come down here in this little select area, right down here you see highlights, midtones, and shadows. So if we hit highlights, that's gonna tell us what all the highlights in our image are. And it's gonna allow us to use this thing called fuzziness which is really interesting. I don't know why they call it fuzziness. As an inside joke that's kind of carrying on throughout creative live today. Hint, hint Adobe. But I think it's cool. So if we bring this up it's going to mask bigger because it's branching out a little bit more to add I guess, more contrast to that mask. To make those areas more white. So it's reducing I guess, the amount of fuzziness that's in there. Or the range, if we bring it down it's gonna make that whole thing white or we bring that range down up to the white areas. And what it's doing is, if you look at this, this is 0 to 255 so it's looking at things on the pixel level because pixels are from 0 to 255. So if we look right here, that would be a very small highlight adjustment. But what I want is I want a highlight adjustment, or highlight mask that's gonna give me enough of her dress plus enough of the background there to work with. So I might go with something like this, okay? And that's where I would press okay and I would come down here to my adjuster layer and I would click on a curves adjustment layer. I always work in curves. Curves are the most powerful tool on the planet, all right. They allow you to segment your highlights, your midtones, and shadows. Your reds, your greens, and your blues. And allow you to just play. They are so much fun when you accept the fact that they're fun because some people don't accept them as fun. But, so I told you that's how you make that mask for your highlights. I would do the same thing repeated for the shadows and for the midtones. But I've got this action here where I can, right here in this thing that I'm giving away with this. If you just press all tones, it's going to go ahead and thank you, it did it successfully. Whew. I'm just kidding. Sometimes you make them and you're like, awe man, it broke. It's gonna give me my highlights separated from my midtones separated from my shadows and I can modify all of them independently. So that I know that when I make this adjustment to these highlights, it is only affecting this area of my image. So I'll go ahead and move this down a little bit here. So I've got my curve. Boost it up, make all this high. It's more highlighted. Boom it down, make it more in the dark area. Now because this is separated on it's own layer like this I can actually compartmentalize it because right here is my midtones. Right here is my highlights. And right here is my shadows of my highlights. So I can boost up the highlight areas of my highlights while protecting the shadow areas of my highlights. Believe it or not there are shadow areas there and there are midtone areas there. So then I can independently modify, maybe those midtone areas of those highlights. You see the difference here? Much bigger difference than just going into Adobe Cameral Roll and saying highlights, highlights, give me more, give me less. All right. You know we never really ask for more or less. A lot of times we're specific. Give me a teaspoon. This is a teaspoon as opposed to just more or less. So if we go into our midtones now, we can get our midtones where we want them to be. We're gonna make our midtones maybe a little bit darker and then we can come down here to our shadows. And this is where we can make our shadows really dark right there and get his tux nice and dark, but it also makes our shadows nice and dark too. It does make a difference. It makes a huge difference and if you were to just do this in some other type of software, because now you've got all of your highlights, midtones, and shadows broken down and at any time you can press alter option and you can say, okay these are all my shadow areas. But the cool thing about this is because its a mask, you can steal it and put on anything else. So if you wanted to put a color overlay on just your shadow areas, you've already got a mask for it. It's right there. Now similarly, I do this for color. I make color zones. If we go up to select and we go to color range and we go to red, that's going to tell us where red is. And you can't really see it here, but right there. It's just basically right here in their faces and stuff. That's where the red are gonna be. So now I've their skin tones and I've got those rocks on their own individual layer. So when I modify the reds, I've got them on a mask. I can paint on that mask. I can do whatever I want on that mask. So what I've already done is I've already created those for you. And this one, I just chose the four common colors because as I said before cyan and magenta typically don't find themselves in here but if you wanted to make those you're more than welcome to. So if I press play on this, it's gonna break down my image into red, blue, yellow, and green. For just this one. But the thing is you might be like man this is a lot of layers and you're right. It's layer intensive. It's not labor intensive, okay. So if I look at my reds, I get complete control over the reds in my image and I can zoom in here and I can see exactly what's happening with them. So if I wanted to modify their skin tones, make them a little bit darker or a little bit brighter, I've got those skin tones pretty much isolated. And I can come into maybe the red curve and I can make them a little bit more red or a little bit more green. So if their skin wasn't really popping, I could bring this down by adding a little more green to it, or I could boost it up by making them a little bit more red. And because it's isolated with a curve, with our highlights, our midtones, and our shadows, I can say just the midtones of those red get a little bit more red and I can make sure that those shadows don't get touched or those highlights don't get touched. So I did say we're progressing into that junior level here, okay. It's a little bit more advanced than just hopping into Adobe Camera Roll and playing with red because what does red give you in Adobe Camera Roll? It gives you hue, it gives you saturation, and it gives you luminance. This gives you the shadows, the highlights, the midtones of that red. In the red of the reds, and the greens of the reds, and the blues of the red. Man, love it, love it. Calm down, Blake. So progressing on down we have our blues now. Here we can modify a blue tonally. So you don't have to just think about blue in the form of highlights, midtones, or in the form of hue, saturation, and luminance. You can think of blue in the form of tone. So you can bring this down, make those blues a little bit deeper. And then come into our blues and maybe make them a little bit more blue to boost up those blues, okay. You're still thinking, compositionally how are we gonna make them better without cropping. Okay, we'll get to that. So we have our yellows here. Separated our yellows, made them little deeper. Make them a little bit brighter. I like them a little but on the brighter end there. And here is where we get into that we've got the tone, we've got the color. This could be a stopping point, right? We could stop here and we could be pretty happy with this. Here's the before. Here's the after. We're getting a little bit more drama in that sky that obviously the photographer saw because they wouldn't have added that much sky to it if they didn't see that much drama. But here's where we can get really creative with gradience. It's like the common thread of everything, right? So if I come down here and I add a gradient adjustment layer here, I can add a let's just keep it this way for a second. We'll go to a radial gradient. And we can put this radial gradient right over top of them right here just like this. So we're basically targeting exactly where we want this radial gradient to be. If you're really like me and you're like man, I really need to exactly where that radial gradient is, you can zoom in here and you can lower the scale if this to see exactly where that blue is gonna be. And put it right between their faces, oh look at their look. They're in love, for now. I'm just kidding. (laughing) I love you, babe. So I can go ahead and change this gradient, but I'm gonna go ahead and first before I do that I'm gonna change this to overlay first because I need to see what that's gonna look like first, because I can't see what I'm gonna do with all the other gradients I'm gonna do until I get the blend mode set up right. Because overlay is gonna give me kind of the soft light effect, but a little bit more on the contrasty side to make it punch a little bit more and that's exactly what I'm looking for in this image. So I'll double click this gradient, open it up, and I'm gonna change this to something that's more, let me add a little bit of blue over here. Like a darker blue over here. And then I'll press okay. But. That color didn't change. I love it when it doesn't change. Okay. Wondering why that color didn't change. Let's see here. Let's just change this to this gradient, perfect. So with this gradient, it's a transition from your tan to your dark blue which is what I was gonna go for anyway. So I'll go ahead and press okay. And we have this little button here called reverse because I don't like the fact that everything is like really dark here and it gives this like faux kind of like 1950s vignette than we had going on before. So I press reverse. Notice what's happening now. We are zeroing in on this couple. We are zeroing them in with the effect that we've created around them. So if we take that scale and we make that scale a little but bigger, there's a little bit more of that white into that blue and we get a nice effect, a nice targeted effect that's going into them. And we can even drop the opacity here so it doesn't have to be quite that bright. So we get the before and the after. Notice how we're looking every where else. Our eyes are like all over the place and then oh, there's a nice couple there. But now, we look directly at them. Directly at them and everything else just kind of fades out a little bit, which can actually make this a really nice mantle piece photograph for a big print because of how vast it is and it goes right into them. We could also come in here and we could add maybe a gradient map. And a gradient map is a fun thing because what it's gonna do is it's gonna map out our tones. It's gonna seal the tones and it's gonna apply these colors. This color to the dark areas. This color to the light areas and our gradient. So if I choose a gradient that is like maybe, let's make a little bit of red and yellow in here. So something like this. Press okay. And then I'll change this to something like color. Because what the color blend mode does is it allows all the tonal values underneath to shine through this gradient. Says okay, yeah you wanna supply this color here, that's cool but let all those tonal values come through. So our highlights, our shadows that we worked so hard for in the tone section there. And then we drop our opacity down and we can color grade this image. Now does tone and color make a difference? Well let's turn off tone and let's turn off color. What if I just made you a preset with these two things. It wouldn't work. You have to get your tone right. You have to get your color right and then you hop into those effects. So I said that those tone, color, and effects, is important and the order is important. Where you do them, not necessarily as important, but you can clearly see right here that because we have our tone and our color and our effects broken down into Photoshop, that these tones and these colors make a huge difference. But the cool part is is that at any point, you can come back down to these tones, open them up, and because everything that's happening above here is based off of what's happening below, we can modify anything in between too. And those colors are all changing based on the blend modes that they're set to above. So you can always go back to them too. You don't have to fear like, oh. I did that, I don't need to go back. No don't be afraid to go back. You can't break anything. If anything, you can just control Z. I wish I had a control Z on my life. (laughing)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Blake Rudis' Workflow Actions
Intro to Workflow
Workflow Blueprint

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Adobe Stock Tutorials

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Great class, great instructor. Fast, to the point and on target. Lots of useful good info. No stories, no fluff, just down to business. Well worth your time and effort.


Great class to bring you from self-taught (or free online) to professional-level performance! I’ve been working in ACR (via Bridge) for years and this material has provided me with confidence in my current workflow, tips on how I can refine my workflow to become more efficient, and given me actionable stepping stones to move up to the next level. Thank you!


Gagh! Amazing! This is a fast paced class but the topics he teaches will change how I edit my photos. Great class! If you want to make your pictures pop and understand how to use color and tone....get this class!

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