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An experiment to enhance subject lighting

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  #1  
Old 06-15-2007, 01:17 PM
duwayne duwayne is offline
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An experiment to enhance subject lighting

I’m looking for comments/critique on both the results as well as the process.

I have been trying to enhance the natural lighting in a photo to make the subject stand out more (not to create new lighting). I thought I could do this with Curves but was getting some adverse color changes so I took another approach. I created a layer mask using the Threshold Adjustment Layer for the upper 1/3 of the pixel and another for the lower 1/3. I then applied a Gaussian blur to both masks and then did a Levels Adjustment to the image portion of shadows and highlight.

I have attached an example (before/after) of a photo previously posted here on RP. The following is a step-by-step description.



1) Duplicate background and label HIGHLIGHTS

2) Duplicate background and label SHADOWS

3) Add Adjustment Layer => Threshold on top of stack

4) Select Threshold adjustment layer. Double-click to open dialog box and move the slider to the right (to about 160)

5) Select => All followed by Edit=>Copy Merged

6) Alt click on the Highlights Mask Layer then Edit=> Paste then Gaussian Blur of about 40

7) Select Threshold adjustment layer. Double-click to open dialog box and move the slider to the left (to about 70)

8) Select => All followed by Edit=>Copy Merged

9) Alt click on the Shadows Mask Layer then Edit=> Paste then Image=>Adjustments=>Invert then Gaussian Blur of about 40

10) Select HIGHLIGHTS layer then Image=>Adjustments=>Levels and adjust midtone slider to the left

11) Select SHADOWS layer then Image=>Adjustments=>Levels and adjust midtone slider to the right


There are other things that can be done – Changing blend mode to Soft Light for Shadows and Highlights layer, Adding a drop shadow to the Shadow Layer, blending original image with 30%-60% opacity to reduce the affect or use Curves instead of Levels for more control.
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File Type: jpg jfyM0UVr2254b.jpg (99.4 KB, 89 views)
File Type: jpg jfyM0UVr2254b-a.jpg (85.8 KB, 106 views)
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Old 06-18-2007, 05:09 PM
chal chal is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

Hi Duwayne.
I was trying to follow your experiment i do've two questions,what do you mean with highlight mask and shadow light?i only see adjument layer,don't see anyother mask.can you please explain to me,thanks.
regards,charles
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:50 PM
duwayne duwayne is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

Charles - I have attached the Layers pallet to show the masks. Hope this helps. BTY I am using Photoshop CS. Please ask if you have additional questions.
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:00 AM
chal chal is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

Hi Duwayne.
Thank you very much.
regards,charles
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Old 06-19-2007, 07:58 AM
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Swampy Swampy is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

I thought there was too much green in the photo so did a quick levels and used the eyedroppers> Black on the darkest window pane, White on a highlight on her right shoulder and gray on one of the vertical bars in the widow.
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Old 06-19-2007, 11:02 AM
duwayne duwayne is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

Very nice Swampy. That's exactly what I was looking for. Did you do this with Curves only or did you use the above procedure? I started out thinking I should be able to use Curves but the colors seem get harsh and oversaturate. I played with the clipping levels (which helps) but these seem to be very abrupt cut-off points. I think the G-Blur on my shadows mask is providing a "gradient clipping". Thanks for the reply.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:01 PM
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

I just used levels, not curves. And I guessed at the true black, white and gray points, but it eliminated the green in her face and hair and brought up the pattern in her outfit and gave her better skin tones.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:44 PM
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saby saby is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

Matter is the idea what you want to see, IMHO you got it well, i like the after one. To get the result there are lots of ways, now i'll try your way and will ask you about, here is my version, what you can't see on it there were a desaturate a level correction and gaussBlur on the diffuseglow layer and a levels corr on the screen layer mask.

saby
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:03 PM
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saby saby is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

this method works well, but i couldn't get the same color on the face as on the breast what went wrong?

saby
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Old 06-19-2007, 04:15 PM
duwayne duwayne is offline
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Re: An experiment to enhance subject lighting

Saby - Very very close with your first approach. Colors look very natural. My guess (for your second post) is that the Threshold level for the highlight mask was not high enough causing the face to be masked more than her chest. I have found that some guesswork is involved in selecting the two threshold values.

Swampy - nice work with Levels. I have always used to Threshold function to mark the Black and White points before using Levels. After seeing what you did. I set the Black point using a "not totally black" point in the windows. It works quite well.
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