Pyroklectic, Lightroom, Photoshop & Topaz

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Notes from Rich, Photography, Photoshop, Prescott, Tech Tips 4 Comments

kneeling (1 of 2)

Tommy kneeling down. Interesting shot, but there's a truck in the background!

The sorting from Tuesday’s fire show shoot is almost done.  And yes, I put a lot of the photos up yesterday.  Promise, this will be the last round of these shots this week.  🙂

After sorting I found a few photos that I wanted to work with more.  Don’t ask me why, it’s all about my taste and what appeals to me.  While working on the shots this morning I thought I’d take you through what I did with each of them from start to finish.  This could be a long post, so grab some popcorn (don’t get the butter on your keyboard) and follow along if you like!

The first image is of Tommy kneeling down and taking a break.  Well, that’s what was in my head at least.  I thought it was a pretty interesting scene, but there’s somebody’s truck in the background.  Total bummer.  Something’s got to be done!

From Lightroom2 I selected “Edit in Photoshop CS4” and sent the image over to Adobe Photoshop.  Pretty simple, pretty easy stuff.  The first step once in Photoshop?  Make a second layer which is a duplicate of the original.

There are so many ways to duplicate a layer in Photoshop, but I always use the same keyboard shortcut.  Command J (on the Apple keyboard).  Folks always ask how I move through Photoshop so quickly.  It’s simple, I’ve finally learned the keyboard shortcuts.  Took me long enough to learn though!

After duplicating the layer I popped over to adjusments panel.  It’s a new panel that’s one of the perks to CS4.  When you select an adjustment from the panel it creates a new adjustment layer and provides you with a layer mask.  Very slick.  More tools to make sure your edits are non-destructive.

kneeling (2 of 2)

Dropping the exposure, painting in the area I wanted lighted, and a minor adjustment with Topaz yielded this result

So, the image now had 3 layers.  The original, the duplicated layer, and an adjustment layer.  The adjustment I chose was Exposure.  Pretty simple.

I dropped the exposure of the whole image until the background was completely unlit.  Tommy was still lit, but not well.  That’s where the mask came in.

I simply selected my Brush tool, and then on the layer mask painted Tommy, the torches, and some ground back in.  Tommy and the torches were painted back in at 100% opacity.  The surrounding ground was painted in at 40% opacity and gone over to create the effect of tapering light.

Where did I learn this stuff?  Scott Kelby’s 7 Point System, his CS4 for Digital Photographer’s Book, and Matt K’s Layers book.  All good stuff, and that’s where I finally learned all the keyboard shortcuts too!

I still wanted a little more pop to the image.  It was pretty cool to begin with, and now that the truck was eliminated I liked it even more.  But I wanted a little more “edge” to the shot, so I turned to Topaz.

I selected layer 2, the duplicated layer of the original, and went into my Filters and selected Topaz adjust.  Once in adjust I previewed each preset filter and landed on Spicify.  I liked the look, but toned it down a little.  Once I was happy with the preview I applied the filter.

I still wasn’t done at that point.  On layer 2 (now adjusted with Topaz) I popped a mask on.  I painted at 50% opacity, so the original layer showed through to a degree.  That toned down the Topaz effect a little more so it wasn’t over powering the image.  It has to look real, right?

So, there’s the wrap on the first two images, and their before and after.  The original image was shot with the following settings.  1/100th of a second, f/2.8, 66mm, and ISO of 3200.

Edit Number 2

startingpoint (1 of 1)

This is the starting point. I liked the scene, but a few things were bothering me.

I decided to toy with this second photo for several reasons.  First off, it was one that I flagged yesterday and knew I liked.  But I didn’t like everything about it.  While it’s pretty cool from the outset there’s a few problems with it as well.  In addition to the “coolness factor” my buddy Josh also stopped on this one as well.  He left a comment this morning about the lighting of the image I’d posted yesterday, and I agree with him.  The lighting is very interesting no matter how you slice it.

If you looked at yesterday’s post, this image is the 6th one in the post.  It doesn’t look the same on yesterday’s post, does it?

Nope, not at all.  See, I’d adjusted it in Lightroom for fun.  I wanted to reseet the White Balance so the scene wasn’t so gosh darned yellow.

If you haven’t noticed, fire casts a yellowish orange glow.  If you haven’t noticed that you really need to go camping or something and toast some marshmallows.  Get out a little more, would ya?  Anyhow, I wanted to see what resetting the White Balance would buy me, if I liked the image more or less than the original, etc.  So, that’s what I posted yesterday.

Resetting the WB was pretty simple.  I used Lightroom to do that work for me.  Lightroom has an amazing develop section, and 9 times out of 10 I can accomplish everything I want to with an image just with Lightroom.  Pretty slick, no?

So, I selected the photo in Lightroom, and went into Develop.  There I jumped to the first section available to me.  The WB section.  There’s an eyedropper where you can sample from the image that works well.  Unfortunately, in the case of this image I didn’t have anything that I knew to be “white”, and I hadn’t sat down with a WB card prior to shooting that night.  The eyedropper was skipped.

steptwo (1 of 1)

The second phase of this image. I just dragged the temp slider left until I was happy

Instead of using the super easy eyedropper tool I just jumped over to the “Temp” slider.  That’s short for temperature.  The color temp of the image that is.  Clearly the yellowish orange glow implied the image was too warm.  I simply slid the slider toward the cooler side of the spectrum and stopped where I decided I liked it.  No rhyme or reason, it was simply to my taste.  When I said, “Hmph, that’s pretty cool,” I was done!  🙂

Yesterday’s picture is the second one you see in this series.  Very different with just the WB reset, don’t you think?

This morning I received a comment from Josh.  Like me, he liked the lighting in this one.  With just the WB move I found that the scene was a little more interesting to me than the original.  But there was more to be done.

I didn’t like the background.  Josh commented the same sentiment.  2 out of 2 people agreed, something had to be done.

This morning after coming into the gallery I immediately popped this image up in Lightroom and selected my Edit in Photoshop CS4 option.  Tossed the image into Photoshop and really went to town on it.

Step 1:  I immediately duplicated the layer, as I always do when bringing something new into Photoshop.  “Non-destructive” editing.  What’s that mean?  Well, if I totally screw up the edits, butcher the tar out of the image, and find myself weeping in front of the keyboard about what I’ve done, I can still go back to the original layer which hasn’t been altered.  The new layers get altered, and I can always step back.  Hoorah for Layers!

Step2:  I agreed with Josh’s comment.  The background wasn’t a happy place.  So, I labeled my new layer “Clone Stamp” to remind myself what I did in the layer.  Take a look at the image.  2 people in the background, fire extinguisher, pretty bright stuff from the street side…….a lot could be done.  What I did in the clone stamp layer was simple.  No more fire extinguisher, no more background people.


The layers I used to alter this particular image

Step 3:  I was happy with my cloning, and didn’t want to do anything further to that layer.  So, I duplicated it again.  The new layer had the edits from the previous layer.

Step 4:  Another Exposure Adjustment Layer was added.  I wanted to highlight the two fire dancers, not the background.  Drop the exposure a good bit, then paint in only the areas I wanted to accentuate.  Just like the previous image!

Step 5:  With the dancers highlighted to my satisfaction I still wanted a little more.  So, I went to the layer below the adjustment layer and relabeled it to Topaz.  Just another friendly reminder note to myself of what I was doing.

Step 6:  I went into the filters in Photoshop and selected Topaz again.  Once again, I went through each of the preset functions until I found something close to what I liked.  In this case, Spicify.  I changed the settings and toned it down a little, and once I was satisfied I applied the filter.

Step 7:  I still wasn’t done.  I decided that I wanted to blend my Topazed layer with the one below it.  After sorting through blending modes I settled on Overlay.  Just another adjustment made to my taste, nothing more.

There ya have it.  The final image that I’m happy with was completed in under 15 minutes.  I still have a slew of options available to me, and we’ll see what I finally settle on.

Below you’ll find the last two moves.  First the Topaz move, then the Overlay blend mode.

Oh, and the original image’s settings were as follows:  1/40th of a second, f/4.0, ISO 3200, 70mm (with my 70-200mm lens).  There ya go!

topazlayer (1 of 1)

The exposure has been changed, I've painted with light, and Topaz has been applied.

overlayblend (1 of 1)

My final adjustment. The Topazed layer was blended with Overlay.

Hope you enjoyed the little step by step.  What do you think of the final image?  Like an intermediate step better???

Comments 4

  1. Post

    Glad you enjoyed it Jay! I used to do a lot more tutorials, now they’re randomly interspersed. 🙂 Thought everyone might enjoy this one because they are such fun images!

    See you next week!

  2. Very cool technique – funny you mention Topaz too…(not sayin’ more than that here…) 🙂

    This is just great stuff Rich, love that final look too!

  3. Post

    Jason, thanks!

    Hmmm….wonder if you’re going to review Topaz or something. You know, yesterday I downloaded their new tool “Detail.” They’re running a special for current customers. I’ll be testing it out today.

    Glad you like the final look. I’m stil picking between what I really like. I think the final for each of these would make a good show poster.

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