Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ex. 20 Improvement

This was a far more complex project than the last one, stretching my Photoshop skills to the limit and requiring some quality time with Martin Evening and "Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Photographers".  The first and simplest challenge was to select and image that would work well in the context of the exercise:

I originally took this as a candidate for Assignment 3, ultimately rejecting it because the figures in the frame were too dark.  This is a difficult subject to select for lightening as there are very distinct differences in both colour and brightness on the two figures.  I also wanted to maintain the dark shadow at the back of the photo, so could not use a broad levels adjustment to add some fill light to the people.

I turned to Photoshop CS4, can't afford the upgrade at the moment, and started playing with the selection tools. My first ploy was to use the Magic Wand Tool, but I kept getting bleed into the background or too little selection.  I then used the Quick Selection Tool in both add and subtract modes to build a basic selection around the two figures.  At this point I was puzzled how to refine further, but learned that I could further refine the selection in Quick Mask Mode.  I did this using a variety of different brushes and pencil tools to add to the mask and the eraser tool to eliminate any mistakes.

A further step I took was to save the final selection as an Alpha layer, so that I could retrieve it as needed.  The eventual mask looked like this:

The final step was to apply a curves adjustment to the selection and I eventually finished with an image containing two very much brighter people:

They now look as if they are walking in the sun rather than the shade, so a big improvement to the image.  This was a complex technical challenge and a useful skill, although I still think this is an emergency recovery rather than a technique I would choose to deploy purposefully.

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