Over the years I’ve been asked many times if I do Editing tutorials, and I never have until now when Photography Masterclass invited me to share a few of my favourite Techniques, so here goes my very first..
I don’t have an exact Workflow that I follow as a rule, every image is different, therefore deserves its own treatment. People often ask what Plugin or Effect do I use, the answer is none. I wish it were that simple but the truth is you need to work at it with several techniques from your Creative self. I’ve been known to spend weeks on one image and even then there’s a possibility it will get deleted or I walk away for a few months till I’m in the right head space for that particular image. Other images can flow easily and done in an hour.. It all depends, they’re all different.
So …grab a Coffee, pull up a chair, load Photoshop, and chillax for some unconventional Jenny style editing. OHhh..and don’t forget the biscuits, they’re the most essential part!!
I thought Id start with the ever popular Romantic Orton Effect, its like something you’d see in the Movie Lord of the Rings. Developed my Michael Orton in the mid 80’s, which gives an almost surreal dreamy effect. There are so many different ways to do this and Tutorials all over the Internet. It’s a great effect that I use in the majority of my work and normally applied towards the end of Processing, which I personally think gives an extra polished look. Here’s how I do mine and the image we will be working on below.
1. Duplicate your background layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
2. With this New Layer selected, go to Image>Apply Image. Copy my settings from the image below.
3. Make another Copy in the Layers Panel by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac .Your Layers Panel should now look like this.
4. Now go to> Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur. Select a Radius around 38 which is what I prefer when using my Canon 5d mark iv in Raw Format, but it depends on the size of your own image file. Have a play around with different Radius.
5. Close the Eye icon on your Background layer (see example circled in Red). Go to Layer > Merge Visible, this will Collapse your Three Layers into Two. Go back to your Eye icon and Open by un-checking it. Your Layers Panel should now look like this.
6. Go to >Blend Mode >Multiple. This will look way too heavy and over cooked, so don’t lose hope, stay with me. Go to your Opacity Slider and Dial it down to whatever you feel looks good, usually anything between 12 and 30 Percent.
Tip: You can also Experiment with different Blend modes ..Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light can work quite well too for more Pop! Word of caution though, dont over do it, it’s very tempting I know but it will stand out as overdone and fake. The trick is so nobody knows how you’ve Edited. Suiltity is your best friend, bet you never thought Id say such word ..lol.
Controlling Blown out Highlights.
Apply Image is one of my favourite tools in Photoshop, you can use it in many situations. Here’s how I control any blown out or over powering highlights as illustrated in the Image below.
1. Start by duplicating your Background Layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
2. Select Blend mode Multiple on your top Layer.
3. Select a White Layer Mask.
4. Go to Image > Apply Image . Make sure your settings are the same as mine below.
5. You can Experiment with different Blend modes and Channels within the Apply Image box. Have a play, see what you come up with.
6. To achieve different Effects you can take it a step further by checking the Mask check box in the bottom part of Apply Image dialogue box, this will crush the highlights more. Click OK. Follow the example below.
7. If you feel it’s too soft and flat you can always add a Curves Adjustment Layer. Start by making the Curve a steep “S” shape > if you double-click on the White Mask it kindly provides for you it allows you to add a Feather, making it not too harsh of a Contrast. Set the Feather to approximately 10 pixels.
8. Adjust your Opacity to taste and Mask off any areas that you don’t want.
Give it some Punch! This gives extra Detail/ Clarity.
1. Duplicate your Background Layer by holding Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
2. Go to >Filter> Convert for Smart Filter.
3. Filter > Other > High Pass > Set to 3 Pixels.
4. Blend Mode >Overlay ( or Soft Light / Hard Light ).
5. Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options.
6. Go to the Blend If area in the lower half of the box where you see two sliders ( This Layer and Underlying Layer) > Go to “This Layer” > . As in the image below.
7. Hold down the Alt Key or Option Key on a Mac > Place your mouse over the left slider and click > this will instantly separate the slider in two.
8. Move the sliders to show> 50/100.
9. Do the same with the Right hand slider making sure your still working on “This Layer”> Hold down the Alt Key or Option Key on a Mac > Place your mouse over the Right slider and Click > this will instantly separate the slider in two > Set to 150/200 > Click OK.
10. So your Image looks like mine below. Area to work with Circled in Red.
11. Ctrl+J, or CMD+J on a Mac.
12. Adjust your Opacity to what you think looks best. You can use the White Masks on the Smart Filters within the Layer Stack to Mask off any areas with a Large Soft Black brush that you don’t want.
Painting with Light
Here we are literally going to be Painting Light and/or Shade directly on the Image. Learning about Light was one of my first Nemesis, it didn’t come natural to me at all, but I knew I had to fully understand it if I wanted to pursue any type of Photography.
Really think about where your Light source is coming from, ie. the Sun, Moon, Diffused Light from a Window or a Light leak/s from Clouds to name a few. Remember one thing, Light always travels in straight lines, and wherever there is light there has to be Shade.
Photoshop really does make this an easy task.
1. Start with your Background Layer in your Layers Pallet.
2. Go to >Layer (on your top row) > New > Layer >You can name this “Light” or whatever you prefer to use and set the Blend mode within the pop up box to Soft Light. Like the example below.
Option: You can use Blend Mode Overlay as an alternative if you prefer, it will give a stronger contrast.
3. Select a Colour from your Image using the Eye-dropper tool to give a more natural look that matches your image. Look for a slightly more Saturated & Lighter Colour in the Colour Swatch. Always best to experiment till you have the right tone that your happy with.
4. Grab a Large Soft Paint Brush with your chosen colour, this gives a more feathered natural look.
5. Using your Bracket keys for the correct size> Simply paint in the light you need on the New Layer.
6. You can do this with Several Colours. I tend to work in areas and make sure you use a New Separate Layer for each Colour, it’s just easier and more controllable.
Tip: You can do the same for Painting in Shadows with darker colours. Rather than having plain Black and Boring blocked out Shadows.
It’s very time-consuming, there’s no quick fix. The best way I’ve found so far ..Put on some great Music, zone out whilst you Paint some Beautiful Light & Transform your image like a boss! It’s actually very therapeutic.
Within Photoshop and Lightroom you can change the Background colour by simply right clicking over the area. It brings up a drop down menu, with the options black, dark grey, medium grey, light grey and customized.. Try changing the colour to see how your image looks on different backgrounds and also zooming in and out, this can really help to show your Highlights and Shadows. Remember to always stick with the Default for your main workflow ( darkest grey). Think about where your image will be displayed. Social Media platform layouts are all different, sometimes it’s a small thumbnail that viewers see first or maybe displayed in a Gallery.
Never worry what other people think, do it for yourself, what pleases you. I’ve tried listening to the Purists who can’t wait to tell me I’ve overdone something, but it doesn’t rock my boat, why should I please them? Would you start a Career in something you don’t want just to make others happy? I think not! You might not always get the most Likes, Comments or Followers on Social Media, but does it matter? Do it for yourself, listen to your heart, it will guide and fulfill you I promise.
I hope you guys all enjoyed this and have lots of fun experimenting with the new techniques.