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Enhancing Details with Adobe Camera Raw

You can use the Details tab in the Adobe Camera Raw dialog to really enhance your photos.  This works great if you’d like to create custom settings for your raw files before you run the HDR or Photomerge commands. The Detail tab offers precise control over both sharpening an image as well as reducing noise.  All raw images will need some sharpening.  Noise on the other hand may not appear unless the image was shot with a high ISO setting or under low light.

1.  Open a raw image with Adobe Photoshop.  The Camera raw dialog will open.

2. Double-click the Zoom tool in the top toolbar to switch to 100% magnification.It’s easier to accurately judge both sharpening and noise at a 100% view.

3.  Click the Details tab. In the Detail tab, you can adjust sharpening to bring out fine image details.

  • Amount – Increases definition at the edges of an image.  Use a lower amount for a cleaner image. When you open the file, Camera Raw plug-in calculates the settings to use based on camera model, ISO, and exposure compensation.
  • Radius Use a low number for fine detail and a higher number if the photo lacks much detail.
  • Detail Controls how much high-frequency information is sharpened in the image and how the edges are emphasized.
  • Masking – This controls the edge of the mask.  Using a value of zero means that everything receives the same amount of sharpening.  A higher number will limit the sharpening to those areas near the strongest edges.

An easy way to tell how much masking to use is to hold down the Option (Alt) key while dragging.  White areas will be sharpened while black areas are ignored (masked).  Try this out, hold down the Option (Alt) key and drag slowly to the right.  A value of 50 seems to be the right balance for this image.

4. Noise reduction controls let you remove extra grain from the image.

  • Luminance – Reduces luminance noise. Set this to 10 for this image (it’s not very noisy).
  • Luminance Detail – This sets a threshold for the noise reduction. Higher values preserve detail but can produce noisier results. Lower values tend to produce cleaner results but likely remove some detail.
  • Luminance Contrast – This option works best for very noisy photos.
  • Color – Reduces color noise.
  • Color Detail – Use a higher value to protect detailed edges.  A lower value preserves more color, but can result in color bleeding.

5.   Toggle the check box for Preview to see the before and after states.


Two Down & Dirty Techniques to Make Your HDR Photos Pop

Like your HDR images? Want them to pop more? In this 3Exposure tutorial, Rich Harrington shows you how the Find Edges Command, a Black & White Adjustment Layer and blending modes can take your image from wow… to WOW!

These techniques are easy and fast so take 4 minutes and extend your skill set.

© Richard Harrington

How To Use Photoshop’s Merge to HDR Pro Option

Rich shares a video podcast on how to increase the dynamic range of an image by combining multiple images using the new HDR toolset in Photoshop CS5.

Yes, You Can Create a Time-lapse Movie with Photoshop

Many photographers are experimenting with creating timelapse or stop motion animations with their cameras.  Yes, you can create a time-lapse movie with photoshop as long as you have the Extended version.

To do this kind of work, the camera is typically placed on a secure tripod and a series of still photos is taken with their camera of a scene.  Typically teh photos are taken at regular intervals.

  1. Organize your frames. You’ll need between 12 and 30 images for each second of animation, so chances are you’ll have a lot of source material.  Make sure all the images are in one folder and that they are named sequentially. If needed, you can use the Batch Rename command in Adobe Bridge to fix any naming issues.  Files should be named similar to frame001, frame002, frame003, and so on.
  2. Open your animation. When you’re ready, it’s time to open the image sequence in Photoshop.  Choose File > Open and navigate to your folder that contains the image sequence files.
  3. Import a sequence. Select only  the first frame of animation (selecting more than one frame will disable the animation).  Make sure the Image Sequence option is checked.  Click Open to import the sequenced frames.
  4. What speed?The next dialog box asks you to specify a frame rate.  All of the standard video frame rates are offered.  Check with your video editing software to determine which rate you need for a particular project.
  5. Check playback. You can use the Animation panel to check your animated movie.  When satisfied, you can choose File > Export > Render Video.

How to Sign Your Work – Adding a Digital Signature To Your Photographs

A popular trend these days is to sign your images when posting online.  The thought is to treat the image more like it was being shown in a gallery and less like pixel dust in the wind. The process is really pretty easy to do.  I’d also like to state that this is a much more attractive way to watermark a photo.

Here’s the process for Photoshop Users

  1. Sign your name… take your time and give it a few tries.  If you’re using pen and paper, go with a thicker felt tip pen or marker.  If using a tablet, that works too.  Be sure to create a nice large signature so you’ll have plenty of pixels to work with.
  2. Scan or digitally capture the signature at a very high resolution.  You’re likely adding this to high-resolution imagery, so better to start large and scale down (instead of up).
  3. Clean up your signature with a Levels adjustment to make the whites and blacks crisp.
  4. Save two versions of your file.  One black on white and one white on black.  You can choose Image > Adjustments > Invert to make a negative image.
  5. When you’re ready to sign, choose File > Place and navigate to your signature file.  Choose the black or white signature based on your photo background.

  6. Scale the image to taste by dragging a corner handle.  Be sure to hold down the shift key to constrain the proportions of the scale.
  7. When ready to place the image, press the Return (Enter key).  The layer is added as a Smart Object which can be scaled or resized as needed.
  8. To blend the signature file, change the layers blending mode.  Use Multiply to drop out the white background or screen to drop out the black.

There you have it… a classy watermark that’s easy to reuse on all your online photos.

Do you have a favorite way to sign your digital images?  Share it in the comments please.


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