Photoshop Fun!
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I have been tinkering with Photoshop for a while. I started to get serious with Photoshop when I was using version 5.5, but I am currently using Photoshop 7 but will probably bestir myself to upgrade to Photoshop CS soon.

I first learned about Photoshop when I worked as a professional photo retoucher. However, at the lab where I worked we didn't use Photoshop. Instead we used special photo dyes and painted directly on the prints. It could be painstaking at times. That's why Photoshop is so exciting to me - something that could take hours with dyes and brushes takes mere minutes with Photoshop!

Most of the techniques I show here are geared more towards "traditional" retouching tasks. But I am enjoying branching out, and exploring more of Photoshop's capabilities!

Please note: These are not "advanced" techniques I am showing, by any means. But a person who is familiar with the Photoshop interface will benefit most from some of these tutorials.

My model for some of these Photoshop exercises is my friend Bill. I had some good pictures of him, and I thought I might as well use them for my Photoshop practice!

To the right is a picture of Bill, as it was originally scanned. As you can see, it is too dark, and too blue. The scan was pretty bad, actually! But I like the picture, since it has Bill (who is a patriotic fellow) looking at the flag against a nice cloudy blue sky.  The photo has possibilities...

Too dark, too blue...

Bill and Flag, after
Much better!

I decided that the thing to emphasize in the picture was Bill, and the flag.   So, I made a copy of the picture on a new layer, and turned the original layer (so it was no longer visible). I then extracted Bill from the original background using several selection and extraction tools in Photoshop (mostly the Magic Wand). I used Curves and Levels to adjust his contrast and color, so he doesn't look so dark and murky.

On another new layer, I made some generic clouds with Photoshop's "Render" filter, and put it behind Bill's layer.  I then found a stock photo of a flag. I put on its own layer, lowered the opacity, and blurred it a little so it looks like it is in the distance.  I plop them all in together, and voilà! A nice picture of Bill and flag, without the confusion and distraction that was in the original photo!

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Yosemite Valley - before    Yosemite Valley - after
(Click on each thumbnail image to see a larger version)

Hey, this picture belongs in my Yosemite Photos section! Well, it will eventually end up there, I am sure... (This scene is from Yosemite Valley.)

I had scanned some Yosemite slides a few years ago, when I had a bad scanner, and bad software. (Plus, I didn't really know what I was doing!)  I ended up with these extremely dim, blue images. I set the scanned files aside, hoping I'd be able to salvage them later, when my software skills increased.

I will confess that I don't think the "after" picture is quite "there" yet - I think I could do more with it. Or better yet, I should just re-scan the original slide!

I gave some contrast (and got out some of the blue) by using Levels and Curves. I adjusted the Color Balance, putting some more red and yellow in the picture. I selected the trees, foreground, and background rocks all at separate times, (feathering each selection by a few pixels) and adjusted their color and contrast as I saw fit. This was tricky at times, and required me to do a little airbrush retouching to fix up trouble spots within each selected area. Another way to fix the trees and background rocks would be to make an Adjustment Layer (perhaps of Levels) to get the trees, etc. the way I liked. Then, apply a mask to the Adjustment Layer, "erasing" everything but the now-corrected rocks and trees. Voilà! There are so many different ways to color correct in Photoshop!

Frankly, I am amazed that the picture ended looking as good as it does. I now consider it "passable". The original photo was so blue, and so dim - I just didn't think there was anything left there to salvage! But that is the wonder of Photoshop.

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