Learning more Photoshop

Image:  Captured by Nicki Photography

Image: Captured by Nicki Photography

As mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals this year is to work on photography, and part of that is learning Photoshop (Elements, in my case).  I’ve been learning quite a bit watching the video tutorials done by Geoff Lawrence, including adjusting the lighting and color in a photo.  That certainly came in handy when, earlier this week, I finally went to backup my wedding photos.

I had a professional photographer, who took the above photo.  In addition to the photographer, I also had a few disposable cameras scattered about, because I wanted to get photos of specific people together that the photographer might not necessarily get, being so focused on, well, me.  🙂

It was a night reception, so the disposable cameras had a built in flash.  I didn’t hold out much hope that there would be any spectacular photos among this group, and…I was right.  Most of them were very washed out, and more than half of them were so underexposed the developer didn’t even bother putting them on disc.  I decided to see what I could do to save some of the photos using what I had learned so far in Photoshop.

Here’s a typical before picture:

The original photo - and this one wasn't even as washed out as much as some of them were!

The original photo – and this one wasn’t even as washed out as much as some of them were!

I went in, adjusted the lighting levels, color curves, and color variations (the extent of what I know right now), trying to see what I could accomplish.  Now, I know this is not super great, but I did manage to make it a bit better, I hope:

My attempt at fixing the problems using Photoshop - not great, but better, right??

My attempt at fixing the problems using Photoshop – not great, but better, right??

The contrast is a little much, I know, so I went in and tried again:

Another attempt - is this one any better?

Another attempt – is this one any better?

Thank God for professional photographers!

I’ll keep playing around with these photos as I learn more, see what I can accomplish.  But really, there’s only so much you can do with a photo like the original.  Right?  Photoshop Experts out there, any suggestions?

Categories: Photography | Tags: | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Learning more Photoshop

  1. Nice post! Tried Lynda.com? All the great tutorials one can ever need, imho. Then practice, practice, practice.

    • Never heard of Lynda.com, thanks for the tip! I’ll check it out. And yes, practice…never can shortcut that one, can you? 🙂

  2. anonymous

    For almost black and white picture such as this, you want to downplay them to get some more shades at both ends of the lightness spectrum. The lack of intermediates means you can just compress that part. Simple contrast won’t do that, though. Go for the curves. Also, if the original lacks pitch black but has large swaths of same levels of black, you probably shouldn’t try to go there either – makes it very dark. Maybe it could still be brought down a bit.

    Of course, you may need to get a bit creative in order to get some gradients and not just spread out spikes of lightness values. Maybe something like extracting the lightness component, enlarging it using a bicubic filter, blurring it it with some edge-preserving method and then resizing it to the original size and replacing the original. Well, okay, that wouldn’t do, because you would want the edge-detection to also consider the other colour values, but maybe you could enlarge then whole image and try to work from there. I don’t know.

    There’s also the saturation. The flash has played a merry havoc with it. Again, the prolem is the contrast. You may want to fade the somewhat flash-exaggerated tanline on the arms and the specular on the forehead without making the face red. It looks like the lower levels (on the original) could be brought up quite a bit, low intermediates compressed and the high mid-levels brought down. The highest saturation on the image (as seen on the shoes) seem ok. Add some contrast there, maybe?

    That’s my two cents. Use it to buy grains of salt.

    • Wowsa – I only caught about half that! I’ll have to do some serious playing around to figure all that out – that will be my weekend project! Thanks for the input!

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