Digital scrap items in the header, layouts and sidebar are by Miss Mint at or Jen Wilson at

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Photoshop. Wow!

I've been working with photoshop since 2003 and I'm not ashamed to admit I learn something new almost every week. It's a powerful program that does so much more than I can grasp right now. Someday I hope to be able to utilize it's full potential.

Lately I have been trying (in vain) to get my camera to take close-up shots that rival nicer, more expensive SLR cameras. Miss Mint has been in on my attempt to get my point-and-shoot hybrid project images to look more professional and while it's probably not going to happen, I have learned some REALLY cool tricks along the way.

You probably know I only share my photoshop secrets with my closest friends, which is why they're rarely if ever posted here. And if you don't know, I *HATE* actions. I much prefer to do things by hand and customize the settings for every image. You get much better results that way, as opposed to fixing errors created when some action blew your photo coloring out of proportion. This week I stumbled across a trick for a very quick and easy way to "defog" photos that I think everyone with a digital camera can benefit from. I've come up with my own settings that I find enhance the outcome and shared them below. This may or may not work in Photoshop Elements and if you want any additional help, I charge $8 per hour for lessons, question answering or help with anything Photoshop related. This is for intermediate photoshop users. Here's the trick:

Tay's Quick & Dirty Defog

1. Open your picture in photoshop. Do NOT edit anything & immediately do step 2.
2. In Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3 go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask
3. The Unsharp Mask control box will open. Enter these values:
Amount: 20%
Radius: 25 pixels
Threshold: 0 levels
4. Click Ok and wait for the Unsharp Mask filter to run. You should notice some new clarity.
5. In the Layers window, select the background layer & hit Ctrl-J to duplicate the layer.
6. Click on the new layer (Layer 1) and set the Layer Blend mode to Luminoscity to keep the overall color balance as is OR set it to Screen to also enhance vibrancy. (Drop the layer opacity if it adds too much and blows out your photo.)
7. Hit Ctrl-E to merge the layers back into one and continue editing as usual.

Examples: I took these pictures of a hyrbid card I made outside in indirect sunlight on a mostly sunny day with my point-and-shoot set to digital macro (no flash possible with this setting) at an ISO of 100. The first is the disgusting, straight-out-of-the-camera original:

The image below is the same image with most of the fogginess removed using the steps above with the blend mode set to Screen (100% opacity):

The above image wasn't quite defogged enough so I re-ran the Unsharp Mask and increased the radius to 50 pixels. The next image is what I got after setting the duplicated layer blend mode to Screen (79% opacity):

I liked how the grayish fog had gone away but I was starting to notice some color wash-out on the pinks. Not to mention it lacked the overall "pop" I wanted it to have to show off Miss Mint's bracket mats & Hot Mama papers. After a few more tweaks (no, I'm not sharing!) I got a final image that represents the real life coloring of the card and printed digital elements:

Unfortunately this shot is a great example of what I mean when I say a point & shoot can't do an SLR's job. It's great for a gallery image but it's not ever going to make the cover of a scrap magazine. I'm also not a professional and will have to learn how to shoot across the surface of a satin print, reflective rhinestones and matte elements all at the same time without getting such glare. (What I really need to learn is to just take things over to Kelsey's house! LOL!)

For whatever reason, I like these funky, artistic angled shots of my work. Unfortunately Photoshop can't work too many miracles if your starting image is crap. I'm probably going to have to throw down for a nicer camera in the future.

1 comment:

mchilly said...

You have a nice blog, and your work is an art. Keep on learning photoshop its an amazing software.