Saturday, 16 October 2010

PP Tips 2 - Not Using Layers

This is part of a 'How To' series on post process work.

This one is about ways to do post process work in Photoshop, without using 'layers' yet still have control over the intensity of some of the straight forward adjustments.

I do use layers when editing. Everyone knows that any competent photographer does everything in Photoshop in layers. You must use layers. If you don't use layers, you are a Photoshop Neanderthal  !!

But - Why ? Well, one thing it does give you is the flexibility to adjust whatever step you have just taken, by varying the intensity on the Opacity slider.

Make sense ?

If not, here is a very simple technique for doing many of the straightforward adjustment steps in Photoshop, and still being able to vary the intensity, or effect, of that adjustment.

The sample image I have chosen, is a little too dark as shot. It is a Jpeg image and was shot with in-camera contrast, and sharpening, set to 'Hard'.

I like the image, but there are two simple steps I wish to do to give it a little enhancement before printing. However, I also want to be able to fully control the effect of those steps.

The original image opened in Photoshop, and as it came from the camera.

If we now view the image at 100%, we can see that the in-camera sharpening, having been set to Hard, has caused a little more 'grain' type noise than wanted.

Note : Viewing images at 100% (pixel-peeping), and judging images based on that sized view is, really, a little silly. Why do I say that ? As an example, when viewing this image at 100%, it is no different to viewing the image as if it had been printed at 30 x 40 inches. 

The image dimensions of 3648 x 2736 pixels, when divided by 90 ppi (my screen resolution) = 30 x 40 inches.

Whilst it would be entirely possible to prepare it to print at that size, how many folk really do ? I would happily print this at 23 x 32 inches, which is one of the larger sizes I do.

Step 1
One very simple step to reduce some of the luminance (grain) noise in an image is to use Filter/Noise/Despeckle.

However, there are no adjustment parameters available with this. It is either Despeckle, or not.

The image after Despeckle has been applied. It is 'despeckled' a little more than I want though.

Step 2
Adjusting the level of Despeckle.

If I were using layers, I would simply adjust the Opacity slider to get the level of effect desired. I am not using a layer, but I can still adjust the 'level' of my Despeckle by selecting Edit/Fade Despeckle.

Note : If you want to fade any adjustment, this step must be done immediately after the adjustment. If you move on, the dialogue will not appear.

Step 3
Once Edit/Fade Despeckle is selected, a 'pop-up' will appear which allows me to adjust how much of the Despeckle I wish to apply.

Here, I have chosen a value of 60%.

Step 4
OK. The only other thing I wish to do, with this image, is to apply Auto Contrast, and still be able to control the amount of application.

I selected Image/Auto Contrast, and once the Auto Contrast was applied, I went to Edit/Fade Auto Contrast and adjusted the Opacity to 70%.

It's that simple.

The original image.

The adjusted image.

The final image, ready for printing. Nothing else has been done, apart from cropping/resizing and the removal of a couple of 'spots'.


Other posts in this series - Click here for the index page.


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