Using Scaling Masks To Speed Up Edits

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ABOUT THE IMAGE

Birches Along the Kevo River KB Canham 4x5 field camera mounted on tripod, 120mm lens with red filter, Kodak TMax 100, V2 @ f/22, scanned (wet) on a ScanView drum scanner yielding 100MB grayscale file, down-sampled to 2400 x 1920 pixel 4.4MB grayscale .tif

Large image files, multiple layers, slow computer processors, minimal RAM, or extensive edits can all make the editing process painfully slow and time-consuming. If you employ the use of adjustment layers for making changes (as was done in Technique 16), this technique by Phil Bard can be an incredible timesaver. This is especially true if you work on files that start off as 100MB or larger files and grow to 300MB or more after six or eight layers are added, as is the norm for Phil.

In this technique, you use a relatively low-resolution image of one of Phil's photographs that he took of birch trees along the Kevo River in Lapland, Finland. Even though this small 4.4MB grayscale file is not likely to test your patience or stress your PC, it will illustrate the technique, which can be used with any image size.

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

STEP 2: REDUCE IMAGE SIZE AND SAVE FILE

■ Choose Image ^ Image Size to get the Image Size dialog box shown in Figure 17.3. Make sure that Constrain Proportions and Resample Image are both checked and that Resample Image is set to Bicubic. In the Pixel Dimensions area, change Width from 2400 to 500. Notice that the image size went down from 4.39MB to 195Kb. Click OK to resize the image.

An important step at this point — save the file. If you do not save the file, you won't able to scale it and apply the masks to the original image after editing is complete.

■ Choose File ^ Save As (Shift+Ctrl+S) to get the Save As dialog box. Type small-birch in the File Name box. Click in the Format box and select

Photoshop (.psd) as the file type. Then click Save to save the file.

STEP 3: INCREASE CONTRAST IN THE WATER PART OF THE IMAGE

■ To select the area containing water, click the Lasso tool (L) in the Tools palette. Click in the image and drag the selection marquee around the water, as shown in Figure 17.4.

■ To feather the selection, choose Select >-Feather (Alt+Ctrl+D) to get the Feather dialog box. Type 20 into the Feather Radius box and click OK.

■ Next you must create an adjustment layer for this selection only. To do so, choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer ^ Curves to get the New Layer dialog box. Click OK to get the Curves dialog box.

■ Click the bottom part of the line in the Curves dialog box to set a point. Type 27 and 18 in the Input and Output boxes respectively to adjust the point. Click the upper part of the line to set a second

Image Size

Image Size

point and then type 75 and 82 in the Input and Output boxes respectively. The Curves dialog box should now look like the one shown in Figure 17.5. Click OK to apply the settings and increase the level of contrast in the water.

STEP 4: INCREASE CONTRAST IN TREE AREA

■ To select the part of the image that was not previously selected, choose Select ^ Load Selection to get the Load Selection dialog box shown in Figure 17.6. Click in the box next to Invert to place a check mark and to invert the previous selection. Click OK. As the previous selection was feathered, there is no reason to feather it now.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Curves to get the New Layer dialog box. Click OK to get the Curves dialog box.

Once again the slope needs to be increased, but it needs more slope than last time so, set two points

on the curve at: 31,18 and 72,81.Click OK to apply the settings.

STEP 5: LIGHTEN THE BIRCH TREES

To lighten the birch trees, first select them and then make one last adjustment layer.

■ Using the Lasso tool, click in the image and select the birch trees only, as shown in Figure 17.7.

17.6

■ To feather the selection, choose Select ^ Feather (Alt+Ctrl+D) to get the Feather dialog box. Type 30 into the Feather Radius box and click OK.

■ Choose Layer ^ New Adjustment Layer >-Levels to get the New Layer dialog box. Click OK to get the Levels dialog box. Drag the White Point slider toward the left until it just begins to touch the points on the histogram, as shown in Figure 17.8. If you were to move the slider any further you would burn out the highlights in the trees. Click OK to apply the settings and create a new layer.

STEP 6: INCREASE IMAGE SIZE AND APPLY MASKS TO ORIGINAL IMAGE

In the last step, you finished all of the edits that are to be done to the smaller image. Now, the objective is to scale the masks back up to the size of the original image, and then transfer them to the original image along with the edits. In doing this, you only have to wait one time to have all the edits applied at once — to the larger image.

■ Make the Layers palette big enough so that you can see all of the layers.

■ Click the topmost layer to highlight it, if it is not already highlighted. Then click the Link box next to each of the two next layers below the top layer. The Layers palette should now look like the one shown in Figure 17.9. Do not link the background!

■ Click the Menu button in the upper-corner of the Layers palette to get a pop-up menu. Choose New Set From Linked to get the New Set From Linked dialog box. Type masks in the Name box and then click OK. If you click the small triangle to the left of the masks folder icon that you just created in the Layers palette, the folder will open to show all of the masks you just created. The Layers palette should now look like the one shown in Figure 17.10.

■ Now reopen the original birches-before.tif image. Choose Image ^ Size to get the exact pixel dimensions if you forgot them. You find that it shows a Width of 2400 pixels and a Height of 1920 pixels. Click Cancel to close the dialog box.

■ Click the small-birch.psd image to make it the active image. Choose Image ^ Size to get the Image Size dialog box. Type 2400 in the Width box and if the Constrain Proportions box is checked, Photoshop 7 will automatically place 1920 in the Height box in the Pixel Dimensions area. Click OK. Photoshop 7 now increases the image size; but, more importantly, it also increases the size of the masks to be the exact same size as the original image.

■ Rearrange and size both images so that you can see both of them in your workspace. Then, click the small-birch.psd image to make sure it is the active image.

■ While holding the Shift key, drag the masks folder icon from the Layers palette onto the original birch-before.tif image. You must press and hold Shift while dragging the Set 1 folder to perfectly align the masks from the small small-birch. psd image to the large birch-before.tif image.

You have now applied the masks from the smaller image to the larger original image. All your edits should now be present in the birch-before. tif image and it should now look like the one shown in Figure 17.2. You can continue to work in the large scale image if it needs further editing. Or, you can once again scale it down and transfer it up again; however, be careful not to duplicate layers if you do this.

While working with this small sample image probably has not pushed the limits of your hardware or your patience, one day you may have to edit a large image, and for that this technique is a real timesaver. You should avoid downsizing your working image too far, however, as there is a point at which the masks will show some loss of shape, particularly if you have one that closely follows a shape and it is not feathered. Dropping to or of the pixel dimensions is usually safe enough. You could always use this method for the simple area masks first, and then create any precision masks in the full size image after the other ones are transferred to it, thereby still saving you considerable time.

To learn more about Phil Bard and his work, read his profile at the end of Technique 16.

17.10

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