Has anyone ever had a “take the photo now or loose the moment” experience? Sometimes when this happens, you lose a little control of your background and need to do work in post-processing.
Well..this was my “moment.” We were at the very end of our photo-shoot for the day. It was HOT. Very hot. 98 degrees hot…and high noon. Not the ideal situation for any photograph. We were walking to one last shaded spot and came across an AMAZING hill. I told the family to go ahead and run up there as I had a super fun idea. At the time they thought..”oh no…Emily and her crazy ideas again.”
We persuaded an entire soccer team to move for just a minute..so we had to do this shot quickly and having them move would save me much time in post processing. When coming up with this idea, in the back of my mind I knew that Jodi had created the perfect actions, that I had back home on my computer, which would allow me to make this come to life. I told the family, “I PROMISE…this will be so fun…just trust me….” (in the back of my head I was thinking…oh my gosh…no clouds, high noon..multiple skin tones…shooting uphill….just go for it Emily)….and I did just that.
You may see this and think…so what. They are on a hill. Keep reading…
You will see how this…
Turned into this…
To start, I shoot with the Nikon D700 and had on the 50 mm 1.4 lens with this shot. I did not have time to switch to my new favorite 85mm 1.4 lens, or I would have! Gosh I LOVE that lens!!!
I exposed off of the mothers skin for this shot. I knew exposure elsewhere would not be ideal, but because I shoot in RAW I could tweak it later. In Adobe Raw I tweaked exposure using the white balance, contrast and fill light sliders, before pulling it into Photoshop.
After I pulled it into Photoshop here is what I did:
1. Magnetic lasso and free transform:
I needed the tree and the light post gone for the photo that I had envisioned. This is where I used my magnetic lasso tool to select the family, and just move them over.
First..select your magnetic lasso tool…it’s the triangle lasso with a horseshoe magnet on top. After you lasso what you like, right click and click “free transform”. You can then move what you have selected somewhere on the screen…where ever you want. See below.
Yes there is a huge hole, yes there are still trees intertwined in the family. That’s next! (If you have CS5, you can also try Content Aware Fill. It is not perfect but often will help or even succeed saving you from step 2).
It’s time for the trusty clone tool. I won’t go into much detail here as this is a common tool that photographers use for many occurrences. Here was my thinking through my process. The sky in my photo is pretty light. Not totally blown out, but just pretty light with not much dimension. It was a perfect opportunity for me to take some sky and cover up the tree, the light post, and the small tree and post to the right. If the sky would of been bluer, it would of been more difficult to clone accurately. This is why I always do my cloning and any other touch ups I need to do before I run any sort of action, or add any adjustment layers.
To clone, make a background copy of your image (or Jodi adding in here – you can make a blank new layer and clone by selecting sample all layers). I never clone on to the background image. If I accidentally do something that I really don’t like, it can be hard to back up and it also affects your actual image. I won’t go into details about this as Jodi has numerous Photoshop tutorials on this blog. Click on your clone tool and start covering up where you want covered. Here is how it looked after I cloned in some sky.
Note that there are still pieces of tree behind the subjects. If I go back to this location, obviously I will have them stand to the left of the tree, but sometimes when you are so excited about an idea, things like trees don’t win in your thoughts. To clone in-between them (you could also use the eyedropper tool and paint in there as well), I blew up my image so big I could ALMOST see each pixel. This way I could keep it perfect and make it look more realistic. If you don’t blow up your image during editing, you run the risk of chopping off noses, etc. As I was doing this, to smooth out the lines, it ended up making moms legs look longer because I went over her jeans just a TAD. I would be totally cool with that as a fellow mom, so I just left it. To fix the grass, I cloned another spot of the grass and sky combo. Grass is not a straight line so I could not just paint the sky on top of it. I wanted to keep the blade of grass sticking up to make it look more natural. I took different samples as we don’t want the hill looking exactly the same across the top. When you clone, remember to choose an area where the colors match where you are trying to replace. This goes for the sky as well. You don’t want a big white splotch in a bluer area, etc.
You could then move the family back over to where they were at this point if you wanted to…just repeat steps 1 and 2. I personally liked the composition of where I had placed them.
3. Photoshop Actions:
A. Grass is greener. I wanted the grass to be greener. We have had a lot of rain to the point where the grass is over saturated here in Chicago. I ran MCP’s the grass is greener, illusion 1, from Jodi’s Bag of Tricks collection. I have been waiting for the perfect photo for this. I selected where I wanted the grass to pop and left the action at it’s set opacity of 67%.
B. Sky is bluer. As is obvious, I exposed off of skin tones which caused the sky to be almost blown out. There is still blue in the sky (it may be hard to tell on these small images) so I ran the sky is bluer, also from the Bag of Tricks collection. I did not need to add a totally fake sky, just enhance what was there. To keep the sky looking natural, I set the opacity to 30%. It looked really really fun higher, but I was going for realistic at this point. In other instances I may of had it higher, making the sky even bluer.
C. One click color. My favorite go to action. For everything. I ran one click color from the MCP Fusion set. I masked off some of the spotlight off of the center areas as it was a tad too bright. I also lowered the opacity of the contrast, as the subjects and grass started to blend just a tad. There is a screen shot below where you can see the action run. I honestly didn’t have to do much to this action set as it was meant for this photo.
Even though the one click color action has a great vignette layer, I wanted a tad more of an edge vingette for this photo, so I used my burn tool at 10% and gave it more of a kick. Alternatively, you could use the Free Touch of Darkness Photoshop action and paint on your vignette non-destructively.
There you have it! So many things are possible in Photoshop, and even more so with Jodi’s actions from MCP. The new Fusion set it my “go to” action. I almost ALWAYS use it in some way. There are many times I will run it and turn off some of the layers, increase a layer, etc. It is meant for everyone. It’s always there when sometimes your photos just need just that little “pop”.
Emily is a professional photographer with Emily Lucarz Photography. She specializes in newborn, child and family photography in Chicago. Emily also loves to write mini tutorials for aspiring photographers,which can be found on her blog.