Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fine Tuning Photoshop

The real trick to adjusting images in Photoshop is to select precisely the area you want to specifically work on. One can use the lasso tool for this or the quick selection tool (both in the vertical menu bar on the left). However, a key element of using these tools successfully is to "feather" the outline – this allows you to use the lasso tool in a rather 'rough" and not so precise fashion, and even with the quick selection tool it "bleeds" the boundaries between what you are adjusting and the surrounding areas so that you don't have sharp lines of demarcation.

The feather tool is found after you make your selection by going to "Select>Modify>Feather…." At this point you have to make a judgment – you must set the "pixels" of the feather radius. As a rule of thumb, if you have selected a very small area, try ten pixels. For a large area, try 100. You can tell by the amount of "halo" or demarcation you get if you've not used enough pixels or gone too far.

The picture at the beginning of this post is the original image I took on the island of Crete, of the Greek coast, many years ago – an image with which I've always been disappointed, although I knew at the time I took it that this "portrait" had a lot of potential. Below is the adjusted image. The adjustments included lassoing the man's face and hand, feathering the borders (around 70 pixels), adjusting the brightness and contrast to the selected areas, and then using the sharpen command (in the filter menu).


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