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Old May 25, 2004, 8:31 PM   #1
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PART 1

For Eric s and others interested, I'll explain from A to Z my normal workflow I use for birding. I do shoot in RAW with the DRebel, so I'm also using Capture 1 software to produce 16 Bit TIFF for 2 particular reason ; one is for correct WB and the other is to adjust Exposure Compensation (from now on, I'll use EC), sometimes I may use different TIFF with different Contrast Compensation (CC), different sharpness etc. All this to later on layer different TIFF in PS to create a final TIFF (print)and JPG for the web.

I use 16 bit for one good reason, I noticed that 8 bit TIFF output from Capture 1 (C1) creates banding in the sky when I resize that TIFF in jpg. This is quite problematic when the sky has even tones throughout the image. Please note that you could use other software to extract the RAW to a TIFF. Nikon has their own software, Canon has their own, Photoshop 7 or CS have their own too.

Also note you could use the same principle using JPG in PhotoShop (PS) by playing with each 'frame' with different levels and or curves to later on layer them to create a final image. It's a longer process than just playing with EC in C1. That's the reason why I prefer to work with RAW than JPG.

I'll do multiple follow-up from this thread, so we don't get lost for the entire process.

Note that I use 'frame' for TIFF which will be used for layers or background image

So here's the start of the workflow and why I did it this way :

This is the 1st frame, which is not the original image, it's one adjusted with C1 at -1.0 EC, CC is 10 and I use Extra Shaddow, I'll use this 'frame' for my background layer :



Next image is EC at -0.50 , same CC , same other settings



And for last, the last 'frame' with EC at 0, and all other settings the same :



I'll use this last 'frame' for also my proper brightness of the background, including the sky and the tree. Look carefully that this shot was taken with slightly blown highlights of the feather, although its recoverable. Both other 'frame' above will be used to bring back the white feathers of the Hairy Woodpecker.

So next is the start of the workflow, the 1st image (-1.00 EC) will now be the background, the 2nd is Layer 1, and the last will be Layer 2.

I'll carry on with the follow-up reply



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Old May 25, 2004, 9:02 PM   #2
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PART 2

Ok here's the start of the workflow, in PS I opened all 3 'frame', I also renamed them so you can see what's going on. Also I took screenies of how it looks in PS, these screenies are highly compressed

In PS, open all 3 frame :



So now click on Layer1, and choose Select All, then do CTRL-C (Edit -> Copy), then click on the Backround image and do CTRL-V (Edit -> Paste), it will look like this :



Note we already layered 1 'frame' and on to the right, in the box called Layer, we see there's a background and now Layer 1. You can now close the TIFF named Layer 1, and click on the one named Layer 2, again the same : Select All, Ctrl-C (Copy), then click on the background and do CTRL-V (Paste), so now we'll have the background and 2 Layer.

Again close that TIFF named Layer 2, we'll now work with the background with both layer :



Now this is quite important, you have to understand some basic of layers in PS, on the right in the layer box, there's little 'eyes' where we'll toggle quite frequently. For now, we'll work with Layer 1 only, and click the 'eye' of Layer 2 so its not visible, also click on the Blue box of Layer 1, so its the one active.



Part 3 coming up ina follow-up reply.



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Old May 25, 2004, 9:47 PM   #3
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PART 3

Note : I don't mind if you guys download the 3 JPG in the original post to play with this, to follow me.

Is this boring so far or ? Now we'll start the fun part :roll:

Question we have to ask so far, why layers ? Simple, I want to bring most of what the original image can offer. Meaning, I want to exploit the strenght of layers by bringing out all the details possible. In this case, I'm looking at the darker feathers and lighter feathers. Note that the original image (now Layer 2) has superb details of dark feathers, I won't need to work this out much.

I aim more at the white feathers, since they are blown but recoverable. Also in my choice, I decided to keep the background of Layer 2, most of the time, I'll prefer to choose a darker background, but the shot was nicely exposed for the black feather/ background.

So here we'll use the eraser tool, many swear at using mask instead, I got used to the eraser tool, I know masking has more potential. Don't be shy to zoom quite a lot at the image, we'll zoom to 200% and start to use the eraser tool to bring out very fine detail of the white feathers - Remember that Layer 1 is -0.50 EC, the background is -1.00, while looking carefully Layer 1 already shows blown highlights of the white feathers, we'll erase these.

Toggle the Layer 1 'eye' and you'll see what I mean, you'll see already blown highlights, I will play with the Opacity of the Eraser and play with different tool size.

I'm starting with the head and aim at white feathers where I see blown highlights :





If you erase part you feel shouldn't be, always remember there's the Edit -> Step backward feature in PS. Also note that this whole thing will look grey , keep in mind that throughout the process further down, we'll make adjustments of brightness of layers or the final image.

I really like to use lower opacity with the Eraser tool, most of the time I'll choose 33% and will make multiple pass to area that needs the most, less pass in darker area. This is quite handy to make more subtle editing.

When happy with Layer 1, now we'll highlight Layer 2 and also toggle the 'eye' :

Next two screenies shows the difference here while toggling the 'eye' on Layer 2 :





Huge difference uhh ?

Next part in the next follow-up



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Old May 25, 2004, 10:19 PM   #4
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holy cow! you've spent a lot of time on this! i can't read it now...but i will tomorrow!

are you sure you want everyone to know your PS post processing secrets?
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Old May 25, 2004, 10:20 PM   #5
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PART 4

Now we're working the 'final' part of the white feathers with Layer 1, using 33% opacity with various size, I'll try to get close to what I really want in terms of details of the white feathers.

I won't take screenies of everything I'm editing, you get the idea at this point. Always keep in mind there might be other areas on the photo where some blown highlights can be seen. From this photo, I have few area along the tree, I'll fix that.



When happy, we have few options. The image was taken at ISO200, some slight noise is visible when looking at the blue sky and OOF trees in the distance. I'll use the Blur tool to smoothened everything but the tree and the bird.



Important note, when using the blur tool, you have to work either with the background image (if you chose it would be the background level of EC) or a Layer which you chose to blur the noise out. You can toggle the 'eye' off of any layers that won't be part of the Blur process, in our case, we can leave only Layer 2 toggled, with the 'eye' toggled.

At this point, I'll blur everything needed, by tracing bird contours, do the same with the trees to. Carefull not to blur any part of the bird (or in Focus objects). Use a small Brush size to trace contours :



Then increase the Brush size to work the rest to save time.

Next part coming up in the follow-up

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Old May 25, 2004, 10:21 PM   #6
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I don't mind Vito, I'll still keep little secret of mine :P
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Old May 25, 2004, 10:30 PM   #7
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ok good

you gotta keep some of the tricks of the trade a secret....otherwise you might get a young talented photographer giving you competition

lol i wish....

cya dude! can't wait to read this tomorrow...i'm hoping to have some pictures to work on too!
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Old May 25, 2004, 11:21 PM   #8
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Part 5 :

Now that we've Blured the noise, white feathers have details, black feathers have details, darken some blown highlights on the tree, we have 2 choice. The first one is to Layer -> Merge Visible (Shift-CTRL-E) or work with each layer (and background) with Curves and Levels -This is a next level of post-processing, which I don't wish to exploit here.

So lets Merge Visible (SHIFT-CTRL-E)and now we'll play with contrast tricks.

Now that we've merged everything down, we'll create a new layer :lol:, crazy isn't it ? Don't worry, I'm doing a lot of merge down, new layer, LOL.

So top bar of PS, Layer -> Duplicate Layer :



Now the little contrast trick, lower right part of PS where the Layer box is, highlight the Background Copy, and choose Soft Light, instead of Normal :



Ohh no ! what's going on ? hehe, no panic, now adjust opacity to about 30% :



Toggle the 'eye' of Background Copy, take a look at what's going on. Now I'll erase everything on Background Layer (which is Soft light 30% opacity) that I wish to keep. Erasing them is what the background is, not the copy. I really like the tone of the sky, tree and some part of the bird, I'll erase the rest where I want maximum details.

When happy, again Merge Visible (Shift-Ctrl-E), we'll do the next step. Try to bring some "white" in the white feathers, but by trying to keep the max details. Let's create anoter Duplicate Layer, and we'll work with Curves (CTRL-M)this time :



Again we're concentrating on the white feathers, if you feel you've overdone the Curves with Background Copy, we'll play then with the opacity of that layer - lower right part in the Layer Box :



Adjust to your taste and when happy, we'll erase everything else, which is not white feathers (long process).

Then you can do another Merge Visible (Shift-Ctrl-E), and again ! Do another Duplicate Layer and work the darker feathers, using the same technique explained above.

Next steps in the follow-up


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Old May 26, 2004, 12:06 AM   #9
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LAST PART

Now, as you can see, I like to work in layers, you can at this point try to play with Levels, Auto-Contrast, Auto-Levels, adjust opacity to your taste.

Merge Visible (Shift-Ctrl-E), and save this TIFF either by renaming, or on another folder. We're done with the TIFF if you wish to print.

Resize to your taste, and now we'll work the final image for the web, specifically to try to bring some sharpness out of the bird.

A new method I use before using Unsharp Mask is this :

Create a Duplicate Layer -

Click on Filter -> Other -> High pass, choose 10.0 pixels in the radius box :



Dont Panic !

Now choose Soft Light (instead of Normal), adjust Opacity to 20-25% :



Just a note, I will use the eraser again,I don't want to sharpen OOF part of the photo, so I'll erase everything but the bird.

Merge Visible again, now we'll do the USM trick ->

Duplicate Layer

Filter -> Unsharp Mask

Choose 400, 0.3, 0

Duplicate Layer again

Now we have :

Background, Background Copy, Background Copy 2

For Background Copy, choose Darken, adjust opacity at 30-35%

For Background Copy 2, choose Lighten, adjust opacity at 10-15%

Merge Visible, and.. Voila !





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Old May 26, 2004, 12:12 AM   #10
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LET'S COMPARE :

'Original Image' :



'Worked' Image :



Not bad -

Just a note, this was taken long time ago in December 03, with a Canon 100-300 USM lens, which is not the sharpest lens.

Cheers everyone ! Time to sleep :roll:
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