Picture-Within-a-Picture Makeover (continued)

Taz's Take Don't ignore the horizontal crop! When you're looking for the picture within a picture, don't forget to consider cropping in both directions. In the photo for this particular makeover, the obvious crop is vertical (as in the previous step) — but you can apply a horizontal crop as well.

Q Choose ImageoAdjustmento Levels to access the Levels dialog box.

Always check your image's histogram after you perform a crop, just to see whether you may need to adjust the lighting. Often a previous highlight or shadow area may have been given the boot during the crop.

Note, for example, how the Shadow Point slider here is way to the left of the image data. This means the shadow data in the image will be much lighter than it could (or should) be, and therefore present a lower contrast with the rest of the image elements.

6 Click, hold, and drag the Shadow Point slider until it's snuggled up under the start of the significant shadow data in the histogram.

You can see how this improves the overall contrast here: The shadow areas of the image darken.

Foregrounds, Middlegrounds, and Backgrounds

Good image composition is often about managing the relative importance of (and the relationship between) the foreground, middleground, and background areas of your image. For instance, if all three have the same significance or characteristics (such as lighting), an observer's eye may be confused about where to look. This can result in a less interesting image.

1 Open the Illiamna.tif image.

This image is available for download from the Web site associated with this book.

2 Choose ImageoDuplicate to make a duplicate copy.

As always, stick to working on a copy.

The interesting parts of this image are the mountain (Mt. Illiamna, an 11,000-plus-foot volcano on the west side of Cook Inlet in Alaska) and the water taxi. The image lacks drama for two reasons: 1) Both the mountain and the water taxi are in the middle-ground, and 2) the current foreground (the water), and background (the sky) are boring, boring, boring.

3 Select your Crop tool from the Toolbox, and then click and drag to mark out the boring parts for elimination.

I'd recommend marking most of the current foreground and background (water and sky) for destruction.

4 Press Enter to apply the crop.

Note how the foreground components have completely changed. The interesting parts of the image now occupy different positions and have an altered degree of prominence. Initially, both the water taxi and Mt. Illiamna were in the middleground. Now, the water taxi is in the foreground, and Mt. Illiamna is in the middleground. And the really boring background sky is now reduced, as it should be, to a minor player.

Alternate Method: "But wait!" you say, "I like the water. It creates a nice foreground." Okay . . . try this crop where the water is retained but most of the sky is tossed out.

Either image is a marked improvement over the original . . . the creative choice is yours.

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