Burning And Dodging With Masks

© 1999 Phil Bard

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© 1999 Phil Bard

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© 1999 Phil Bard

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© 1999 Phil Bard

ABOUT THE IMAGE

Kangtega and Thameserku from Pheriche Everest Region Canham 4x5 field camera mounted on tripod, 210mm lens with light red filter, TMax 100, scanned with a Heidelberg Tango drum scanner at 2,400 dpi , 100MB grayscale file was down-sampled to a 2400 x 1920 pixel,4.4MB grayscale .tif

In the darkroom, black and white printers alter contrast and dodge and burn (lighten and darken) to improve their prints. The adjustment layers in Photoshop 7 now make these techniques possible digitally with much more precision, control, and the flexibility to go back and make changes. Rather than making a permanent change to the image's pixel information, adjustment layers are modifiable at any time after they are created. In this technique, you discover how Phil Bard, a master photographer and printer, uses adjustment layers to enhance his photo of Kangtega in Nepal.

STEP 1: OPEN FILE

■ Choose File ^ Open (Ctrl+O) to display the Open dialog box. Double-click the \17 folder to open it and then click the kangtega-before. tif file to select it. Click Open to open the file.

The image file kangtega-before.tif is a low-resolution version of the file that Phil uses to print this image. Using a 4x5 camera and a high-quality scanner, he generally works with images around 8,000 x 10,000 pixels or larger. You might now begin to wonder what kind of a computer he uses to work on images this large. In the next technique, you find out his trick for being able to edit large images quickly.

STEP 2: DUPLICATE LAYER

■ Choose Layer ^ Duplicate Layer to get the Duplicate Layer dialog box; click OK to create the layer.

Having a duplicate layer makes it possible to perform Transform functions and to view the changes from the original by simply turning the layer on and off from the Layers palette. You can accomplish sort of the same thing by using the snapshot created when the file was opened, which will not increase the document size as duplicating layers will.

■ Using the Lasso tool, click the mountains and drag around them to create a selection like the one shown in Figure 16.3. Selecting the shadowed foreground precisely is not important, as we will next soften the selection.

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STEP 3: ADJUST SHADOWED FOREGROUND

In this and the next two steps, different adjustments are made to the shadowed foreground, sky, and snowy peaks.

■ To select the shadowed foreground areas, click the Lasso tool (L) in the Tools palette.

Feather Selection

Feather Radius: 15

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PHIL BARD

Phil Bard is a master black and white photographer and printer with over 30 years of darkroom experience. While he still shoots mostly with large format film cameras and black and white film, he is a leader in developing and using a digital workflow that produces some of the most outstanding black and white digital prints that can be found anywhere. His silver gelatin and digital fine prints are collected in both private and corporate collections internationally. His Web site, www.philbard.com, offers four

■ Choose Select ^ Feather (Alt+Ctrl+D) to get the Feather Selection dialog box shown in Figure 16.4. Type 30 in the Feather Radius box and click OK.

■ To view the actual feathered selection, click the Quick Mask mode (Q) button at the bottom of the Tools palette. You can make any necessary adjustments to the selected area by using the Brush tool (B). Again, don't worry about the selection line between the two mountain ranges; just fix the shadowed foreground area if it is needed. Click the Standard Mask mode (Q) button at the bottom of the Tools palette to turn off the mask.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Levels to get the New Layer dialog box shown in Figure 16.5. Type shadowed foreground in the Name box and click OK to get the Levels dialog box shown in Figure 16.6.

Set the Input Levels boxes to 0, .83, and 105. Click OK to lighten and add some highlights to the foreground. Since you had an active selection

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when you chose New Adjustment Layer, the selection automatically was used to create the mask for the adjustment layer to determine which parts of the image are affected by the layer.

■ Your Layers palette should now look like the one shown in Figure 16.7.

Because the feathered selection that was used to create an adjustment layer causes a slight glowing effect just above the foreground range, it needs to be removed. The great news is removing the glow is easy to do because an adjustment layer was used.

■ Click the Brush tool (B) in the Tools palette. Click the Brush Preset Picker in the Options bar to get the Brush palette shown in Figure 16.8. Click the Soft Round 65 Pixels brush. If the Brush

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portfolios of his work, lots of useful links, techniques, and information about his workshops, which are well worth attending. Besides having a client list full of prestigious accounts, he has also been published in dozens of magazines including Life, Time, Newsweek, and

People. In 1987, Phil was presented with The "Leica Medal of Excellence," given "In Recognition of Outstanding Photographic Work and Achievement."

palette does not look like the one in Figure 16.8, click the menu button in the upper-right corner of the Brush palette to get a pop-up menu. Choose

Reset Brushes; then click OK.

In the Options bar, set Mode to Normal, Opacity to 20%, and Flow to 100%.

Set Foreground color to Black by typing D; then press X to set the Foreground color to Black.

You can now carefully brush over the white halo above the lower mountain range to remove the halo

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effect caused by the feathered selection. You may notice that the painting darkens the image. This is because you are now painting on the mask, affecting the area it covers and, correspondingly, the area that the adjustment layer influences in the image below. If you overdo the painting, select white as the foreground color, and the Brush tool erases the mask. Should you want to change the Levels settings that were used, you can at any time by clicking the levels adjustment layer in the Layers palette and change settings.

■ Now add some contrast control to the same foreground area. Click the Shadowed foreground layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer.

■ Choose Select ^ Load Selection to get the Load Selection dialog box. Click OK to reload the previous selection. The selection marquee now reappears indicating that the unmasked area is once again selected.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer ^

Curves and click OK to get the Curves dialog box which controls the new layer that was just created. Set points on the Curve, as shown in Figure 16.9.

To display a ten by ten grid instead of the normal four by four grid, press Alt while clicking in the curve box. You can now set each of the points by clicking the curve and dragging them to where they should be. Or, you can click to set a point and type in the Input and Output values for each of the three points, which are: 32 and 22,56 and 55, and 80 and 86. Click OK to apply the settings.

With this curve, you are expanding the mid-tone contrast while slightly compressing the highlights and shadows. As before, the effect is governed by a mask, which is resident to the layer and was created from the loaded selection of the previous layer. You now have separate Levels and Curves controls for the same foreground region, allowing you to do extremely precise fine-tuning at any time.

■ To darken the thin strip of light-toned gravel on the left hillside, use the Brush tool set to black to add mask density to the Curves 1 layer, which flattens out the gravel tonalities nicely.

■ With the Curves 1 layer in the Layers palette highlighted, choose Select ^ Load Selection to get the Load Selection dialog box. Make sure to check the Invert box and then click OK.

A marquee appears around the peaks and sky, and if you retouched the light gravel area, you notice it is selected as well. Deselect the gravel area if you retouched it by selecting the Lasso tool (L). Press Alt and draw a marquee around the selected gravel area.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Levels to get the New Layer dialog box. Click OK to get the Levels dialog box. Set the Input Levels to 4,1.14, and 240. The Levels dialog box should now look like the one shown in Figure 16.10. Click OK to apply the settings. This produces better contrast and lightens the area a little.

■ Choose Select ^ Load Selection and click OK to reselect the peaks and the sky.

■ Choose Layers ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Curves and click OK to get the Curves dialog box. Set three points on the curve, as shown in Figure 16.11.

STEP 4: ADJUST SNOWY PEAKS AND SKY

Now you are ready to work on the remaining portions of the image, the snowy peaks and the sky. Because you want to work in the areas not governed by the first two adjustment layers, you load that one first and invert it.

If you find it easier to type the values in, the three points are: 22 and 15,46 and 51, and 65 and 84.

Click OK and take a look at your work so far. If the last layer mask is causing the tops of the foreground hills to look too dark, add some mask density there with the Brush tool. Also feel free to make changes to the other adjustment layers you have created so far, although you're not quite finished yet.

STEP 5: DARKEN SKY

■ To darken the sky slightly, click the Curves 2 layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer. Using the Lasso tool (L), carefully draw a selection marquee, as shown in Figure 16.12. On the left side of the image, drop down into the cloud a small amount. Make sure you select the entire sky, extending all the way to the top of the image.

■ Choose Select ^ Feather (Alt+Ctrl+D) to get the Feather dialog box. In the Feather Radius box, type 10, and then click OK.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Levels to get the New Layer dialog box, as shown in Figure 16.13. Click OK to get the Levels dialog box. Set Input Levels to 0, .73, and 255. The sky

now darkens slightly adding drama to the peaks, which is balanced to the rest of the image.

One further refinement you can make is a Levels adjustment layer for the stream in the foreground. In order to place this layer just above the Levels 1 and Curves 1 layer, highlight the Curves 1 layer, and then draw a marquee around the stream and create the new adjustment layer. The only histogram change needed is to drag the center pointer to the left a bit, thereby lightening the water. Remember that you may go back and make changes to any of these layers at any time, or turn any or all of them off if so desired.

When employing this technique on your own images, keep in mind that the layers add together from the bottom up to create changes in the rendering of the tonal range. For the best efficiency, try to avoid overlapping layers of the same type. This is especially true if one layer darkens image pixels and the other lightens. Also, when working with lower resolution scans that have areas of even graduation (open skies, smooth services), avoid making radical changes to the histogram and curves layers that affect these areas, or posterization of the values may result. This technique is applicable to color images as well, and with a little practice you will quickly be achieving professional results in all of your photographs.

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