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Help with this great landscape look

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  #11  
Old 05-27-2011, 06:37 PM
Aether Aether is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

As far as the look I'm trying to get, I'd like to get the sort of dramatic illustrated look, where it almost looks CG. I'm also partial to the rich but muted color pallet, and that sort of metallic look to the color contrast.

I realize the approach will depend on the initial image, but any work through that ends up with something resembling these images would help me and anyone else interested get a good grasp of the techniques we'd need to learn.
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  #12  
Old 06-05-2011, 06:51 AM
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MacBurg MacBurg is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Hey Aether, thanks for including me in your selection of images you'd like to learn about. It is kinda hard to explain the editing process for the images as there's no specific workflow that I strictly follow.

I do only get the camera out of the bag when the lighting is good for a particular shot, if it's not and I know it might be I wait, other times it just doesn't happen and I'll return home nothing lost. For a lot of my landscapes & seascapes I do location research, mostly to figure out lighting and time of day and to figure out access to a particular viewpoint, I use google earth a lot for this. I have a crappy piece of cardboard cut into a triangle that I place on my screen, it is scaled to a particular zoom level in google earth and to my 50mm or 100mm lenses. This helps me to figure out shots that I like to shoot, where I need to be for a particular composition and if its a morning or afternoon shot. Other times its just luck and being in a good place at the right time of the day! My camera's magical number would be -

1/125th @ f5.6

So that's a big key to getting a good image into the camera, having good light and sharpness to work with from the Raw. This is a retouching forum however so I better get onto some of that before the mods do me some damage
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  #13  
Old 06-05-2011, 07:21 AM
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MacBurg MacBurg is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

I'm not a big fan of HDR, though when it first came out I did shoot a lot of HDR images and used Photomatix for processing, some shots worked some shots didn't but it was always an end result of crushed contrast and loss of the delicate lighting that was there in front of the camera. I now use my own technique to extend dynamic range, not by a huge amount but it adds crucial information to the file that lets you push it and hold top quality. It starts with shooting 2 images on a tripod -

1st image slightly underexposed, spot meter for the whites in your image and place them 1 1/3 stops over midtone

2nd image open up 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 stops depending on your scene and shoot another shot which should be nicely exposed for your shadows

Make general adjustments to Raw files in ACR, enhance midtone>highlights for general exposure, enhance shadow detail in overexposed image

Open general exposure image and overexposed image in photoshop

Import copy of Red, Green or Blue channel from overexposed image

Rename the new layer "Shadows 1"

Hide "Shadows 1" layer and play Luminosity Mask action for shadows, "Super Darks"

Apply levels to increase contrast in "Super Darks" channel

Surface Blur "Super Darks" channel, settings Blur-15 Threshold-25 apply mask to "Shadows 1" layer (5616x3744px)

Set "Shadows 1" layer to "Screen" and opacity 70-100%

Go back to overexposed image and duplicate background layer into main image, set to "Colour" and move to top of layer stack

Rename this layer "Colour 1"

Use again the "Super Darks" mask for colour layer mask or use a new "Dark Darks" luminosity mask

Adjust opacity to suit saturation of image

Create Hue/Sat Layer clipped to "Colour 1" and set to "Colour"

Saturate appropriate colours, experiment with de-saturating blue


These are my notes from a long time ago when I came up with the idea, some further notes I have made -

When you have opened both images at the start and are at the overexposed image, go to your channels palette and click through each RGB channel to figure out which has the most detail in shadow areas. If you are working with a really dark image, lots of shadow areas, you may want to use "Shadow Darks" as a luminosity mask instead. Using the "Colour" layer towards the end is optional, I find it does give nice results on certain images and because the colour has come from a correctly exposed image for the shadows you have accurate colour and no contamination from noise colour. Depends on what your shadows are in the image and whether you want accurate and saturation in your shadows, depends a lot on your image too, maybe as a finishing touch you'll be adding a colour effect to the image so accuracy is not so important.

This all gives you a great start to an image, you have maximum detail to work with and a good subconscious understanding of the image after working with it for a while without thinking about too many other things. Next I go onto cleaning up the image removing any crap that doesn't need to be in the image, or changing elements that distract the eye. Then I create and save masks as new channels for things like sky, foreground, water, left hill, right mountain, island etc... Don't forget to hit the "Save" button everynow and then.

I'll also start paying attention to colour in the image, is there a particular colour of something in the image that doesn't go well with everything else? Can it be changed? If you have a large area that is one particular colour but may vary in hue it sometimes needs a masked solid colour layer set to "Colour" blending mode and to a low opacity. If it has varying levels of light then its better to use a gradient map for this. I'll also make a more global change to the image colour in general using a hue/sat layer or colour balance.
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  #14  
Old 06-05-2011, 08:01 AM
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MacBurg MacBurg is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Onto capture sharpening and my favourite for this would be a sharpening of the lightness channel in Lab mode, this is on a new layer and masked out of places like the sky and anywhere I don't want sharpened, my saved masks are only a hotkey away. I also have other actions I use for contrast sharpening which come next, midtones are the focus here and again using masks for different parts of the image.

If the image is going to suit an AIM RGB conversion I'll do that now, following the details found in this post -

http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/pho...tml#post228052

I think the reason the AIM RGB conversion works on some images is how it pushes midtones into lighter values without blowing out highlights yet it still holds your shadows as they were. Gives a very unique look when it works, some images it takes a lot of further adjustment layers to bring it into play.

Image is starting to look nice now, has good contrast going on and a particular look to it, step back, walk away, even come back another day. I'll move onto dodge & burn next although this is something I haven't used until recently, I used to just lighten and darken larger areas with a mask. D&B is a far more accurate way to enhance the image from a pixel level through to carving larger areas of lighting, go at it.

Well that kinda brings things to a close a lot of things you just pick up as your working through the edit, your eye will know when something needs changing or enhancing. Hit me with any questions about any of the above, happy to help out.

Last edited by MacBurg; 06-07-2011 at 11:21 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-05-2011, 10:14 AM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Shaun, your generosity in sharing all that is most impressive.
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  #16  
Old 06-07-2011, 04:10 AM
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MacBurg MacBurg is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Thanks Flashtones been a while since I've written a decent reply, I actually really enjoyed going back through the "Christian Schmidt thread loads of good information all throughout that thread.
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  #17  
Old 06-08-2011, 03:09 PM
Aether Aether is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Awesome, thanks so much, I can't wait to try this. And I super appreciate the detailed response!
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  #18  
Old 06-09-2011, 03:55 AM
onesh0t onesh0t is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

MacBurg, thanks for sharing. How does your AIM action look like?
Mine goes like this:
Assign profile: AIM RGB
Convert to profile: Adobe RGB (1998)
Copy via Layer
Set blending mode to Multiply (100% opacity).
Merge layers.

It tends to push the luminosity of the image a bit. I think I'm doing something wrong though, because once I run the action more than once, the colour balance goes way off.

If I want to run it more than once, I use a bastardised technique of copying the image via ctrl + a -> ctrl + c -> revert to state before action -> paste -> run again. I think the colour profiles get messed up if I run it more than once.
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  #19  
Old 06-09-2011, 04:15 AM
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MacBurg MacBurg is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Yeah the action you have is missing two key steps, or maybe it isn't as I can't check the blending options of you multiply layer, it should also be adding a curves layer which you should adjust before merging. Also it should be assigning the Aim profile twice, this is what the action I use looks like -

http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/4...ionexample.jpg

Make these changes to the action you have by recording in the missing steps and let me know if that improves things.
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  #20  
Old 06-09-2011, 07:36 AM
onesh0t onesh0t is offline
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Re: Help with this great landscape look

Not sure if you and me are getting the exact same effects. But after some experimenting I came up with 3 different conversions, all of which give me different basic effects, which can then be masked or blended to taste. Check them out.

http://www.mediafire.com/?2kvi51k3m342302
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