Nov 292008
 

Let’s create the perception of a shallower depth of field in this image, with the police cars sharp, and the background more out of focus.

Before

Before

Duplicate the background layer (Ctl/Cmd-J), and add a layer mask to it ( circle-in-a-square symbol at the bottom of the layers palette.) We will blur the duplicate layer, and then mask off the foreground that we want to keep sharp.

This particular image has alot of noise, as the close up below shows. It was shot at ISO 800.

Close Up Showing Noise

Close Up Showing Noise

If we blur the background, the blur will eliminate the noise and look unrealistic against the foreground unless we bring the noise back. Notice also in the full size image that there are blown out highlights in the background neon lights. Because blurring is done by averaging pixels with neighboring pixels, a simple blur would dull these areas as highlights are averaged with shadows. The lens blur filter will allow us to retain the blown out highlights and also add back noise.

Click on the image thumbnail on the duplicate background layer.

Go to Filter>Lens Blur.

Lens Blur Filter Dialog Box

Lens Blur Filter Dialog Box

­Set the Radius to the amount of blur that you want, or slightly more than you will likely want, planning to reduce the layer opacity to fine tune it.

The Specular Highlight section allows you to retain specular highlights that otherwise would be end up dulled to light grey. Your goal is to retain the blown out highlights without making them bigger. Brightness values in an image range from 0 for pure black to 255 for pure white. In this section, all brightness values brighter than the Threshold will be brightened, by the number of values specified in Brightness. It is best to start with the Threshold at 255 and Brightness of zero, and adjust from there. Set the Brightness somewhere around 5, and watch the areas that you know should be blown out as you slide the Threshold slider down. Stop when you are on the edge of making the specular highlights bigger than they were. Then fine tune the brightness slider. Turn the preview on and off to compare. In this case I settled on brightening all values over 238 by 5 points.

Add noise back in with the Noise Amount slider if needed. Leave the distribution on Gaussian, and check Monochromatic. Hit OK.

This blurs our entire picture. Now we will mask off the blurred layer where we want the sharp image below to show through. Click on the blurred-layer layer mask, and paint in black over the foreground cars. If the blur is too much, reduce the opacity of the layer.

Layers Palette After - Layer Mask on Blur Layer, Adjust Opacity if Needed

Layers Palette After - Layer Mask on Blur Layer, Adjust Opacity if Needed

After

After

Of course I recommend spending more time painting your mask than I did for the example — my edges still need some work.

Admittedly, this was a straightforward example, with only two planes — a foreground, and a background. In other situations you may need different amounts of blur for objects at different distances from the foreground. For this you will need to create a depth map. The depth map tells the Lens Blur filter how sharp each part of the image should be. Perhaps this will be a topic for a future post — leave me a comment if you have an interest in this.

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Nov 272008
 

I would be willing to bet quite a bit that Adobe will not be offering anything in terms of Black Friday sales, but you can still save: if you buy the full or upgrade versions of Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4 at the same time through www.adobe.com, Adobe will give you 30% off of your Lightroom purchase.

If you are a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) you can save an additional 15%. First go to the NAPP site and in the Discounts for Members section under software get your promo code. Then enter this promo code when you purchase the software from adobe.com.

Speaking of NAPP, in my opinion being a member is well worth the annual $99 annual membership fee. Not only do you get their magazine, training videos and tutorials, as well as help desk support, but many companies provide discounts to NAPP members: Dell, Apple, Office Depot and the makers of the Drobo to name a few. And best of all in my opinion: free shipping from B&H! Check them out at www.photoshopuser.com

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy and be safe.

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Nov 262008
 

In my last post I showed you how to remove spots using the spot removal tool in Lightroom and Camera Raw. After I made the video, it occurred to me that I didn’t show you my most horrifying example of dust on the camera sensor. I took this image in 2004 shortly after I got my first digital SLR. (Click on the image to see it larger — there is much more dust than you can see in this small version!)

dust11

Dust on the Camera Sensor

I didn’t realize back then that it is a very bad idea to change lenses without turning the camera off — the camera has a charge that draws in dust.  So learn from my mistake on this one! I was able to clean up the image, but it took hours.   These days I turn off the camera, and also turn the camera downwards as I replace the lens so that no dust inadvertently falls into it.

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Nov 252008
 

9/2011: Here’s an updated video tutorial on how to use the spot removal tool to retouch photos in Lightroom.  I also show how to use it to reduce the appearance of circles under eyes.

This is from my Lightroom 3 Fundamentals and Beyond video series, available as a download or DVD.  Check it out if you have Lightroom 3.  And click here to check out the Lightroom 4 version!

 

 

 

 

 

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Nov 222008
 

I thought I would address this commonly encountered issue as I am learning to do videos. Sorry it is a little repetitive, they will get better. Bottom line if you don’t have time to watch the video: make sure you are in a bottom-level folder, and also that you are not in a smart collection. watch video

If you have any issues watching this video, please shoot me an email — I would appreciate hearing so I can make future videos better.

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Nov 212008
 

Sometimes you want to make an adjustment to your image almost everywhere. You could use the adjustment brush and paint almost everywhere, but that could be slow. Instead, make the adjustment everywhere, with a global change in the Basic panel, and then use the adjustment brush to change back the area you didn’t want to affect. This works in both Camera Raw and Lightroom. Here’s an example. I want to give this portrait image that glow that is popular these days, but I don’t want it to affect the eyes or the mouth.

Original

Original

I will give the image the glow by reducing clarity to -60 in the Basic panel. I also boosted contrast and vibrance.

Clarity at -100 Plus Boost Contrast and Vibrance

Clarity at -60 Plus Boost Contrast and Vibrance

With the adjustment brush set to +60 on clarity (the opposite of the global change I made), I would then paint over the eyes and mouth to reverse the negative clarity change. That is the idea — but to make the change obvious to you in this small image environment, I actually painted with +100 clarity, to accentuate the eyes even more:

Paint +100 Clarity over the Eyes and Mouth

Paint +100 Clarity over the Eyes and Mouth

Note that with this technique, Lightroom (or Camera Raw) isn’t blurring the eyes and mouth and then sharpening what it has blurred — that would not in fact work. It is only applying one change to these areas — the cumulative effect of the negative and positive clarity.

Another example of applying a change everywhere and then painting back with the opposite effect where you didn’t want it is an image that needs to be brighter almost everywhere — brighten it globally, then paint back the areas that you didn’t want brighter with negative brightness. Depending on what type of adjustment you are making, you may find that the amount that you need to paint back is not exactly the opposite of your global change … after you paint with the adjustment brush, adjust the slider until it looks good visually.

Finally, note that this will not work when you want part of your image in color and part in black and white — you can’t desaturate the image (saturation of -100) and then paint color back in with +100 saturation. In this case instead start with the color image, and with the adjustment brush set to -100 saturation, paint the areas that you want to be in black and white.

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