Step 5: Create Adjustment Layers And Make Final Adjustments To The Image

After you blend the images as you want, you can begin making the same kinds of image adjustments that were covered in Chapter 2 — only make sure that you use adjustment layers for each of the adjustments! Doing this allows you to go back and modify the settings; plus, because we used a layer mask to blend the two images, you can also go back and fix any part of the mask that you don't like — all without causing any irretrievable loss of picture data!

■ Click the Layer 1 thumbnail (the left thumbnail on Layer 1) — not the Layer 1 mask thumbnail (the right thumbnail). There is a big difference between these two thumbnails!

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Levels to get the New Layer dialog box; click OK to get the Levels dialog box. Using the RGB channel, slide the left slider toward the right until Input Levels shows 10,1.00, and 255, as shown in Figure 28.6.

Click the Black Point Eyedropper and click once in the darkest tree trunk you can find in the foreground to set the black point to pure black. This helps to increase image contrast. Click OK to apply the setting.

■ Click once again on the Layer 1 thumbnail (the left thumbnail on Layer 1) — not the Layer 1 mask thumbnail (the right thumbnail).

Once again, I make the point that it is important that you click the correct thumbnail. As we want to add another adjustment layer to the image — not the Levels adjustment layer, you must select Layer 1 — not another layer — not the layer mask!

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Curves to get the New Layer dialog box; click OK to get the Curves dialog box. Click in the image in the foreground and drag around the foreground while watching where the point moves up and down the curve in the Curves dialog box. This indicates the part of the curve where the slope must be increased to increase contrast in rich-colored foreground trees.

Try setting one point at 54 and 47, and a second point at 91 and 91. Setting these two points greatly improves the foreground tree area. The curve now looks like the one shown in Figure 28.7.

If you want to perform a similar adjustment to the sky to increase the contrast of the sky, once again drag your cursor over the sky to see what area of the curve needs to have the slope increased, which increases contrast. I liked the results of setting two points at 202 and 200 and another one at 226 and 230. Click OK to apply the settings.

■ Click one last time on the Layer 1 thumbnail (the left thumbnail on Layer 1) — not the Layer 1 mask thumbnail (the right thumbnail). By now, you should understand how you add adjustment layers and how they work with a layer mask.

Even though the image now shows some rich fall colors, they looked much richer and brighter before the wind and rain began. So, just because we can — increase color saturation a tiny bit to make those orange colors pop out off the screen and later off the print.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Hue/Saturation to get the New Layer dialog box; click OK to get the Hue/Saturation dialog box shown in Figure 28.8. Using the Master channel in the Edit box, slide the Saturation slider to +12.As you move the slider, watch carefully to see how the red and orange trees begin to glow — stop before

you overdo it. Click OK to apply the settings. Your image now looks like the one shown in Figure 28.2.

At this point, the Layers palette should look like the one shown in Figure 28.9. The significant point here: By clicking on any one of the layers — you can go back and change any of the settings and you can even modify the layer mask, which determines how the two original images blend together. You can also click the eye icon in any of the layers to turn a layer on and off to see the effect — try it.

As these few steps fully illustrate this approach to capturing the full dynamic range found in real life settings, we end this technique here. However, be aware that many other changes can still be done to this image — some of the other techniques in this book can be used on this image to further improve it such as sharpening.

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