March 24, 2011
Shoot and Edit: Week 11 – Flowers EDIT
Welcome to the 11th week of Shoot and Edit: Part 2. Click HERE for all the details and upcoming prompts/themes. 

This week’s theme or prompt was to show us one “flower” SOOC shot (this was just a suggestion, you can show us any SOOC shot). Hopefully you linked up with Jill’s blog earlier this week.

Each Thursday, I will take my SOOC shot and provide some basic editing tips (I will try to keep it basic and work my way up). You can then try these tips on your own photos and link up here – linky will now be open THROUGH SUNDAY. If you’d prefer, can simply share your own edit and show us what you did to achieve the look. We want this challenge to be a learning experience, so feel free to teach us something new too! Also, it does not matter what editing program you use. Although I tend to work within Adobe CS5 (Photoshop), Photoshop Elements and Adobe Camera Raw…it does not mean that you have to use the exact same program. I hope you’ll be able to take the concepts and apply them in the program you feel most comfortable using.

Once again, here is the first of my SOOC shots:
Flower SOOC RS
Building on what we’ve learned in the past tenweeks (Week 1: Edit, Week 2: Edit, Week 3A, Week 3B, Week 4: Edit, Week 5: Edit, Week 6: Edit, Week 7: Edit,  Week 8: Edit, Week 9: Edit and Week 10: Edit), I started this edit in Adobe Camera Raw and then ran my photo through my typical clean processing steps in Adobe CS5. It’s been a while since we’ve covered basic processing, so I thought I’d share my ACR edits today: 
Spring Flower ACR
As I’ve said before, my hope is that at this point in our lessons, you have gotten really comfortable with clean processing in whatever editing program you use (Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Picnik, Picassa, etc). As your SOOC shots continue to improve, you’ll need to do less and less processing (unless you enjoy creative editing – I won’t remove that from you because I enjoy editing way too much).
ACR Adjustment
In a lot of cases, an Adobe Camera Raw (ACR or Lightroom) adjustments is all you want to mess with (that is, if you’re shooting RAW). However, I find that I continuously use the same steps for a clean finish before applying any other actions. This week, I thought you might enjoy those steps in a neatly packaged action I call “Nice & Easy.”
Nice and Easy Layers
In this action, I’ve included (from bottom to top): high pass filter with soft light blending mode, a levels adjustment, slight brightness/contrast adjustment, hue/saturation adjustment (pulling down your reds and yellows but adding just a little more saturation overall), a 12% warming filter (optional) and a 12% pink layer  with a soft light blending mode. Each of these layers is completely adjustable to your tastes so I hope you’ll enjoy using it! Here’s my photo after applying “Nice & Easy” with a few tweaks to my basic action (I increased the shadows just a touch):
IMG_3135 Nice and Easy RS
The adjustments are meant to be very subtle. The only thing I left out of the action, in an effort to be PS and PSE compatible, is your curves adjustment layer but you can certainly add make that adjustment on your own before running the action. Here’s a side-by-side comparision:
Flower Compare
To download “Nice & Easy,” click HERE! 

I hope I did that right – if you use Photoshop Elements, you’ll want to download both files in that folder (the atn and png files). With that said, let’s move on to an “artsy” edit. Remember my second SOOC shot?
Pink Flower SOOC RS
I’ve been drooling over Rosie at Leavesnbloom  photography’s beautiful “oil painting” photos for months. I recently asked her to share her secret and she was so gracious to share Pixel Bender (links to Flickr group – prepared to be amazed) with me. Click HERE to see more of Rosie’s work using Pixel Bender. 

I decided that “flower” week would be the perfect opportunity to test drive my new plugin…and if you’re interested in trying out this technique, you can download the plugins here:
Before we get straight into Pixel Bender, I thought we’d look at photoshop’s artsy filters . These can be found under Filter>Artistic (it’ll be toward the top of your drop down menu). You have a number of options as it relates to an artsy edit (you’ve often seen me use the photocopy option – I’m going to work on a tutorial for that adjustment soon). For purposes of today’s edit, let’s look at Dry Brush:
Dry Brush
With Photoshop filters, your option menu will vary depending on the function. “Dry Brush” gives you three options: Brush Size, Brush Detail and Texture. Ultimately, it’s just a matter of playing with the sliders until you see something you like and click okay. From that point, much like any of my edits, I recommend running your high pass filter with a soft light blending mode to bring out the details. You can make any other adjustments you see necessary from there. 

Now let’s look at Angled Strokes: 
Angled Strokes
“Angled Strokes” can actually be found under “Brush Strokes” rather than “Artistic.” Much like the previous filter, you have three options: Direction Balance, Stroke Length and Sharpness. Once again, you’ll play with the sliders until you’re satisfied with the image and click okay. You can then run the high pass filter with a soft light blending mode and any other adjustments that you feel are  necessary to your image. 
Pink Flower Artsy Compares
If I’m completely honest, after playing with Pixel Bender, I wasn’t at all satisfied with the artistic filters in Photoshop. However, these options can provide an interesting twist to your photos. I encourage you to download Pixel Bender though (I provided the links just a few scrolls up)…the effect is way too cool.
Pixel Bender Steps
For the best results: 
  • After running a clean edit on your photo, duplicate your photo and resize the photo (I resized to 1500 px wide) so that it’s a little easier to work with – Pixel Bender is an energy hog so it can take forever to make adjustments unless you’re working with a smaller photo. 
  • Once you’re working with a smaller photo, duplicate your background…then select Filter (at the top of your screen) and select Pixel Bender (it should be there if you downloaded and installed per the instructions). 
  • You’ll get a menu like the one above. Be sure to select “Oil Painting” to achieve the particular effect I used (the other effects are interesting, but like Rosie…I like oil painting the best). Play with the sliders until you’re satisfied.
  • Click okay to go back to Photoshop (or Elements unless you’re using the stand alone version). 
  • Create a duplicate of your Pixel Bender layer – apply a High Pass Filter with a Soft Light blending mode to make all of the adjustments pop. 
  • Perform any additional processing you feel are necessary (For example: I used a layer mask to reduce the effect and saturation from the background. After making those edits, I merged my layers and duplicated again to apply a screen layer and lowered the opacity.). Get creative and apply the lessons you’ve received over the past few weeks.
Here’s what your final edit will look like using Pixel Bender. Pretty cool, huh?
Pink Flower - Oil Painting RS
So, to recap our lesson, today I gave you my first PS action: “Nice & Easy” for clean  processing (to download “Nice & Easy,” click HERE!). We also discussed using artistic filters and Pixel Bender for a creative twist. For your edit, I would love to see you continuing using the lessons we’ve covered in the past ten weeks as well as apply today’s lesson. Also, tell me how you like the new action.

With that said, here’s a final look at my SOOC , Clean and Final image using Pixel Bender. I hope you found today’s lesson useful. If you have any questions or need more explanation, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Pink Flower Compare
I hope you all have a great Thursday and I look forward to seeing your edits!

By the way, I will be in a meeting in NYC today. Although I’ll have my blackberry on me, email and blog hopping will have to wait until tonight.