Daily Walks by Diane Varner




Post Processing Technique No. 2

Creating Dramatic Lights & Darks

Page 1


Many viewers have asked how this image was processed so I have created screen shots to explain how the dramatic light was created. Keep in mind that when using this technique, it is best to start with a photograph that has good lighting and contrast rather than trying to create it in Photoshop.

Project Notes—

1). The following software was used for to process this image:  
     Apple Aperture 2.0,
Adobe Photoshop CS3 and
     Nik Software: Color Efex Pro 3.0 (CEP 3.0)

2). All Adjustment Layers can be found at the bottom of your layers palette by clicking on the black /white circled icon.

3). The instructions for this technique have been divided into 2 pages. Here are the URL's for both:
     Page 1: http://dianevarner.com/technique_2.html
Page 2: http://dianevarner.com/technique_2B.html

Photoshop CS3 Steps —

NOTE: The camera raw adjustment was done in Aperture 2.0  The original raw file was adjusted so that the exposure was darkened slightly. All other adjustments were left untouched.


1). Duplicate the Original Layer

2). Curves Adjustment

With the Curves Adjustment Layer Mask, the lights and darks are adjusted to bring out the contrast making the image "pop" more. The RGB channel is adjusted as well as the blue channel to bring out the blues and yellows in the image. (To access the Blues Channel, click on the Channel drop down box and click on Blue #3).

Both the lines on the graph indicate the applied adjustments.

3). Hue/Saturation Adjustment

With the blues too dominant in the image, a Hue/Saturation Adjustments layer is created to reduce the saturation of the blue. The other colors are left untouched.


4). Stamped (Merged) Layers

Next step, merge (stamp) all the layers created at this point with the exception of the Background layer which cannot be chosen. Here's how to do this:

1. Select all the layers highlighted in red.
2. Press Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Command+Option+E (Mac OS).

All the existing layers will now be merged/stamped into one layer that will appear at the top of the previous layers. This layer will be used in Step 6.

5). Gradient Map Adjustments Layer


With the Gradient Map Adjustments Layer, a toned image is created to emphasize the darks and lights. A hint of dark blue is chosen in this one but you can experiment with the different gradients. Make sure that both the lights and darks do not become over/under exposed.

This layer will be used as an underlying layer in the next step.


6). Color Overlay with Reduced Opacity

The Merged Layer (1) - indicated in blue in the layers palate - is now duplicated and moved above the Gradient Map layer that was just created in the last step. This layer is then changed to "Color" in the drop down box (circled in red) and the opacity is reduced slightly to soften (mute) the colors.

7). Curves Adjustment

With the Curves Adjustment Layer Mask, the darks are adjusted just a bit more to develop the contrast. I wanted this effect primarily on the left hand side so a gradient mask is added on the right to block this effect on the lighter side of the image.


8). Second Gradient Map Adjustments Layer

A second Gradient Map Adjustments Layer is added to enhance the yellow/green tones on the right and darken the left even more. Again, this is a step where lots of experimentation can be done both with color and tones.

Note: This layer was reduced to 29% opacity so the effect is subtle.


Continued on Page 2 --->         

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