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Posted 4/27/2010 by ~Jenn H~ in General Photography
 

~Jenn H~
AncestralPea

PeaNut 255,703
March 2006
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Posted: 4/27/2010 6:30:46 PM
Disclaimer: I am not a teacher. I'm awkward, I forget things, and sometimes I'm not clear enough. If any of the above happens in the course of this lesson, just call me on it and I'll do my best to clarify or add things. For the awkward, just love me in spite of it.

I've been asked many, many times how I get the look I'm known for, so though I'm going to skim over everything I do, I'm going to give the bulk of my lesson to the actual processing, and converting to b/w. For uploading, tagging, metadata, etc., Barbie's tutorial has some excellent, efficient tips, and Julie's lesson was fantastic for getting organized.

I start in LR. I import all RAW files from my card reader, and set my flags to be able to hide/reject a file with the "x" key. I go through and reject all of the bad, duplicate pose, or oof images, ending with about 20-30 proofs for a client set. I zero everything out then make basic adjustments for exposure, white balance, etc. Sidenote-I use a white balance card, so I always add the shot of my subject with the card to my catalog, then use my wb dropper, and click on that to set the wb. I also run NoiseWare from a free LR droplet available on the ImageNomic website. After basic edits are done, I export to a folder within the client's folder, and add the metadata in at that time.

Ok, my image is open in CS4. (and isn't my subject adorable? I'm not a bit biased...) Always work on a duplicate copy, never the original. Go to Image>Duplicate, and then close your original. Especially if you shoot JPEG. If you shoot RAW, you can just reopen the image in ACR, and it'll retain your image settings.



I like to start with as close to perfect a base as I can before I even touch color, so here's where I straighten the image, clone anything I see needs it, etc. In this particular case, the tuft of grass growing at the top of my driveway and the bruise on Captain Fearless' forehead needs cloned out. I always clone on a separate layer. Create a blank layer above your image, and make sure your clone tool settings at the top are set to sample "current and below". You can either flatten, or leave this layer. This is one of the few places I do flatten. If you run NoiseWare in PS, this should also be done here, so the noise doesn't influence your adjustments to the image.



Next, a little work on the boy's undereye area. He has breathing issues, and as a result, dark purple circles under those crazy-blue eyes. The pasty white skin only makes them look worse. So, get rid of them, but not to the point that there's no shadowing at all under his eyes. This gives a flat, plastic look that's unnatural. I create another blank layer above my image, select a soft round brush, and set the opacity to 75%, the flow to about 30%. Hold down alt and click on a part of his face/cheek that's more the color I'm going for under his eyes. Working in light circles, I paint over the undereye circles, then lower opacity on the layer until I see some shadow come back through, in this case, about 75%. When I'm satisfied, I flatten. I open another blank layer above my image, and using the same method I did for the undereye areas, I paint over the slightly hot spots on his face, his nose and cheek area. This kind of "powders" his face a little, giving it a more even, matte look. Again, lower the opacity way down on this layer. Your goal for skin should always be realism, never thick or flat looking. You can flatten when you get the feel you want. And we are done flattening-I am a firm believer in non-destructive editing, and even the previous layers can be kept open if you want to keep it all intact.



Ok, so I now have a clean, well exposed, good base to start adding color to. The first thing I do is open a curves layer, and create a slight "s" with the line by dragging the top right portion up a bit, and the bottom left down. At the top of the palette, I change the blend mode to "luminosity", which tones the yellow highlights back down. I then hold down ctrl+alt+shift+e, which creates a new layer at the top of my palette from all the visible layers. It needs more color, and I love a warm, golden glow in my images. One of my favorite ways to pop and add a slight warm glow in one shot is to open a photo filter adjustment layer, select one of the warming filters (I usually prefer the one that says "85" ), and then set the mode to "soft light" and lower the opacity. More "oomph", and a sun-kissed glow. This is probably one of the main tools I use to push color.



Ok, color intensity looks pretty good, but it needs to be brighter, and it's looking kind of dull. I do another curves adj. layer, this time slightly raising the top right side of the line, and bringing the bottom left back down to where it started. This gives me a brighter background, and makes the image a little richer. My blues have gotten a little bright for my taste, so I'm going to open a hue/sat adj. layer, and pull the saturation down to about -30 under the blue channel. I don't want it to affect my son's eyes, though, or the blue of his shirt, so I'm going to click on the mask beside the adj layer, hit ctrl+I, and invert the mask. Then with a soft white brush, paint over the jeans.

My son has clear, intense blue eyes, and this image doesn't really do them justice, because of the cloudy, grey day. There are images of him where I don't touch the eyes, because the rest of the processing I do to the image pops them more than enough. But in this case, I'm going to do my usual eye pop, which I added into the special section below.



The last thing I do is create one last merged layer (ctrl+alt+shift+e), and then go to Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlight, and my defaults are set to this:



This adds a dimensional feel that just kind of finishes it off, for me.



This image is pretty well where I'd want it for a clean edit, but "clean edit" isn't really what I'm known for, now is it? Enter the grunge.

The main components of a grunge look are contrast, a slight desaturation in color, and for me, I love a slightly reddish/purple hazy wash. I'm going to take my clean edit, and with 3 simple adj. layers, create the grungy, urban look I get asked about. First, contrast. A deep "s" curve on a curves adj. layer, by pulling the right top of the line up and almost to the right corner point, and pulling the bottom left down and almost to the corner point. And again, blend mode to luminosity, as contrast like this can take your skintones a harsh yellow very easily.



Next, the grunge wash. Open a levels adj. layer, and brighten the midtones a bit by sliding the middle slider to the left. Drag the output sliders (bottom sliders) in to brighten shadows and darken highlights, which is what gives that hazy look. Drop down and select the red channel, and drag the left output slider (shadows) to the right, to about 15. Drop down the blue, and drag the same slider to about 8.



And finally, open a hue/sat adj. layer, and drag the saturation slider (under the master channel) to about -15, maybe a bit more if you have a lot of color going on.



Another thing I get asked about-my conversions. I like a rich, contrasty conversion. I start with a channel mixer adj. layer, and check the "monochrome" box. Red slider 50, green slider 10, blue slider 40.



Open a curves adj. layer, and do a strong "s" curve as I described above.



From there, I sometimes add a tint with a color fill layer, set to soft light. Once you set the mode to soft light, you can tweak color by double clicking on the palette icon. I tend towards a bluish silver or a soft, silvery plum, usually. For this, my hex code was 686a6f.



After I edit (on the uncropped, unsharpened file), I "Save As", and rename it to filename_edit. NEVER just save-you'll save right over your original. I also save the .PSD file with all of my layers, and I use the note tool (lives under the eyedropper tool) to remind myself any action or special effect I may have used. If it's a proof, when all my proofs are done, I run a batch action on them that resizes my longest side to 600px (a bit bigger if it's for my blog), sharpens for web using the USM at 300, .2, 0, places my wm on it, flattens, and SAVES TO A NEW FOLDER. Again, careful to never overwrite the original. If it's for print, I generally do a USM around 200, .5, 2. If I see it getting too sharp, I'll back off to around 150-170.

SPECIAL TIPS:

Eyes:

For eyes, I open a levels adj. layer and pull the middle slider way over to the left, the right slider to the left slightly, and the left slider a little to the right. For this, my numbers were 11, 1.24, 150. Select the mask the adj. layer creates, and hit ctrl+I. This inverts the mask, and will reveal your levels layer where you paint with white. Select a small, soft white brush at 100% opacity, and paint over the irises. Lower the opacity on the levels layer if it's too much. Select your dodge tool, and with it set to highlights, and about 5-7%, go over the catchlights. Switch to the burn tool, and with shadows selected, and again, at about 5%, go over the edges of the iris just to darken them a bit. I don't do this last step on my son's images-his eyes have a natural navy ring. My daughters', though, have very light iris edges, and this makes a big difference on them.

Cloning:

As I said, I always, always clone on a separate layer. This allows you to lower the opacity to avoid the thick, unrealistic splotches, or, if you don't like where it's headed, you can chunk the entire layer and start over fresh. Overlap and vary your brush size when cloning-this helps you avoid duplicating patterns in your image. Build your cloning in layers-if you have your clone tool set to sample "current and below", this is easy, and makes for the most realistic cloning. Utilize your transform capabilities to get proportions to look realistic if you have to. Go to Edit>Transform, and play around with distort, perspective, and even warp. If there's something symmetrical in the image that matches what you're cloning (part of a face, like the cheek, for instance), it's sometimes easier to select that area of the image, hit Ctrl+J to copy that selection onto it's own layer, Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal, and then move that to the area you're attempting to clone and use a mask to replace the original area with the new area. Lower the opacity when you're moving, to make it easier to line things up.

Double Exposures:

One of the things I struggle with most is making my exposure look the same as my eyes saw it. That's because of the way our camera exposes, and if we were to, say, expose for a backlit scene in a field (like this one of my friend Melissa's daughter):



then we'd have to blow out the sky, as Melissa did to correctly expose for her precious subject. But, there's a really great sky there, too, and it would be nice to see the whole scene correctly exposed.

Can we do this? Yes. It's MUCH easier if you shoot in RAW, so that's what I'll cover, but for you die-hard JPEGgers, you can do it, too. You just have to remember to take a shot exposing for the sky as well, and then use a mask to combine the two.

RAW Shooters, you can do this in ACR and PS, though, and here's how. Open your image in ACR, and make corrections for the subject, or majority of the photo. We'll cover our problem area in a minute. When you're ready to open in PS, hold down the shift key, and your "open image" button becomes "open object". Aha! There's the magic. A Smart Object retains all the image's information, and allows you to return to ACR with the double click of an icon.

Okay, our Smart Object is open in PS. Duplicate your smart object layer. We can't just duplicate Smart Object layers, because they're linked, and if you edit the duplicate for the sky, etc., the changes will happen to your first layer, too. So, right-click and select "New Smart Object Via Copy". Now, double-click the icon of this duplicate layer, and it'll open it back up in ACR. Re-edit the image, this time for the sky or problem area, using the Recovery slider, etc. to gain back detail. Don't worry about what the rest of the image looks like for now. Once the sky is edited, again, hold down the shift key, and your image will open as a Smart Object, right where it was before, which is right where you need it-perfectly aligned with the other layer. "



Add a mask to the top layer, and paint back the sky or blown-out area. And here's where I'd like to introduce you to a good friend of mine, the rubylith.



Anne/paintedmoon first introduced me to her, and it was truly instant love, on my part, at least. To see her, click on your mask, and then hit the "\" key. You'll see everything you've painted in a transparent red, so you can happily paint with black and switch to white, and back, until you have painted precisely where you need to. Perfection. Get to know the rubylith-I guarantee she'll make your editing easier.

Ok, now you can see that gorgeous blue sky, and your subject is perfectly exposed. The last step is to create a merged layer, again, with ctrl+alt+shift+e, and that is the layer you start working with. Ta-daa!



And, fully edited with my workflow:



I hope some of this helps someone-and thank you, Jami, for letting me be a part of this awesome new part of 2Peas.


~Jenn H~

Canon 7D | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.8 | 28mm 2.8 | Tokina 10-17 fisheye | 430EX II

PS CS4, LR 2.0

"Why can't life just be polite?"

~FM Static

KrisDan
PeaNut

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Posted: 4/27/2010 6:47:06 PM
Wow Jenn this is GREAT stuff. I really felt like I can follow what you are saying. Can't wait to try it all out. Awesome Job. Just what I've been searching for. Thank you so much.

Kristy

jodar
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Posted: 4/27/2010 6:50:41 PM
Oh Jenn Thank you so much for this fabulous class. It is really interesting to see you step it all out. Thank you very much!


Jodie
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NessyB
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Posted: 4/27/2010 6:57:52 PM
A very big thank you Jenn for this lesson! You are so generous to be giving us this insight to your workflow, I know I'll be referring to this time and time again


In my bag
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hampton32
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Posted: 4/27/2010 6:58:36 PM
Jenn,

You are AMAAAAAAAAZING !!!!

Thanks so much for taking the time. I will save, print, and read very, very carefully.


~Carolyn

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AlyCait09
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Posted: 4/27/2010 7:15:26 PM
Thank you so much, I am definitely going to print this.


Alesha - MWAC
*********************
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TREZmom
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Posted: 4/27/2010 7:16:40 PM
Jenn, this is a wonderful lesson with tons of detail. Now I just need to go and try to absorb some of it. Thanks for taking the time to do this...I REALLY appreciate it.

karene
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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Posted: 4/27/2010 7:16:43 PM
Thanks Jenn!!!!!!!!!!

I am so excited to try this out. I so appreciate your taking the time to do this for all of us!



~ Karen


UtahMomX4
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Posted: 4/27/2010 7:31:51 PM
I love, love, love it!!!! Thank you, Jenn!


~Jami

Life in Moments Photography Blog

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For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. - Audrey Hepburn

_Shanna_
I pea a lot...

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Posted: 4/27/2010 7:42:38 PM
I want to see the finished photos as well! The screen captures don't do them justice, I'm sure. Good work!


Shanna

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TrUcksR4CowGirlS
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Posted: 4/27/2010 7:43:58 PM
YEAH!!! There it is! I was, like WAITING...all day.

Sorry I missed your call, was napping.

Hey...and I know there were threads about this before...but your take on zeroing out? I tired that, even have an ACR preset for it (thank you Molly!) but I either don't know what I am doing, or just don't get it. Because I end up doing more work, I like what I have to start with when it is not zero'ed out. So, what am I missing?




Staci
Staci Brock Photography

What's in my Crumpler bag:
Nikon D200; Nikkor VR 18-55mm; Nikkor 70-300mm; Nikkor 50mm 1.8; Tamron 28-75mm 2.8; .5 Wide Angle with Macro

On My Computer:
CS4, Imagenomic: Portraiture, Noiseware, Real Grain


katieFLapple
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 4/27/2010 8:02:05 PM
Thanks so much for taking the time to write up this great lessons! The rubylith seems like it will be particularly helpful!


~Katie~



My Gear -
Canon 50D
50mm 1.4
Tamron 28-75 2.8
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craftyluv
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Posted: 4/27/2010 8:05:18 PM
This was AWE.SOME.

but your take on zeroing out? I tired that, even have an ACR preset for it (thank you Molly!) but I either don't know what I am doing, or just don't it. Because I end up doing more work, I like what I have to start with when it is not zero'ed out. So, what am I missing?


I'm with Staci on this one. I've just recently started shooting RAW, (past few months) and began with zeroing out because that's what Anne talked about in her PPC lesson (what does a good SOCC look like?). It seems I almost always end up at the same place, or near to, where the default settings were. The only thing I've gotten from zeroing out, is I've learned I've been underexposing.

Thanks for such a great lesson!


Blessings, Rebecca





My gear:
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70-200mm (old AF film lens)
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clindroos
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Posted: 4/27/2010 8:05:21 PM
I always love reading about people's workflow - yours is great and I cannot wait until my babes are in bed. 6pm is probably a little early?!


~~ Corrie ~~

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TrUcksR4CowGirlS
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Posted: 4/27/2010 8:08:10 PM
Rebecca, from what I understand...it is not that you are underexposing...I thought that too. Molly explained, I got it then...uh. Can't reiterate it though!




Staci
Staci Brock Photography

What's in my Crumpler bag:
Nikon D200; Nikkor VR 18-55mm; Nikkor 70-300mm; Nikkor 50mm 1.8; Tamron 28-75mm 2.8; .5 Wide Angle with Macro

On My Computer:
CS4, Imagenomic: Portraiture, Noiseware, Real Grain


_Shanna_
I pea a lot...

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Posted: 4/27/2010 8:16:12 PM

It seems I almost always end up at the same place, or near to, where the default settings were.
That's why I don't bother to zero anything out. If anything I just adjust it down if need be. I almost always zero out the blacks though if I'm clipping them when I don't want to be.


Shanna

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suzihastwo
Going Up

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Posted: 4/27/2010 8:59:04 PM
Thanks Jenn, so informative. I like seeing what other people do for workflow, and how they achieve the look they get. I'll have to try yours out. I especially love what you did with the photo of the girl in the field, nice colors.

rachag03
WHOOPea!!!

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Posted: 4/27/2010 9:04:36 PM
Love your processing and style. Thanks so much for sharing!



~Jenn H~
AncestralPea

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Posted: 4/27/2010 10:34:13 PM
Thanks, guys. I tried to break it down pretty far for the new kids, and also use PSE friendly tools (like hue/sat instead of selective color) so that the most amount of people could benefit from it.


I want to see the finished photos as well!


Ack, Shanna! How on earth did I not post those?! I seriously thought I did...Anyway:









and my conversion method on Melissa's image, too:



BTW, you'll get to see more of Melissa's amazing shots in June, when she has graciously agreed to add her skills to the Photo Peas Classroom.


~Jenn H~

Canon 7D | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.8 | 28mm 2.8 | Tokina 10-17 fisheye | 430EX II

PS CS4, LR 2.0

"Why can't life just be polite?"

~FM Static

ptphotog
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Posted: 4/27/2010 11:03:34 PM
This is AWESOME!!! Thanks so much for all of your hard work!!!!


Danielle

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amarvel
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Posted: 4/28/2010 12:31:40 AM
thank you so much for doing this. this is great info!


Angela
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LoriLeigh
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Posted: 4/28/2010 6:49:11 AM
very cool! can't wait to try it out


~Lori
My blog


paintedmoon
Ancient Ancestor of Pea

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Posted: 4/28/2010 7:30:33 AM
Holy moly, Jenn, that is an awesome amount of information! I know how long it takes to write all that out with screen shots, so thank you for doing all of that for us. Especially thank you for sharing all those "secrets."

Quick note - I think you have a typo in this sentence under your explanation for enhancing eyes:


pull the middle slider way over to the left, the right slider to the left slightly, and the left slider a little to the left.


I think you mean you slide the left slider to the right....the left slider doesn't slide to the left.

Re. zeroing out in ACR - I've been thinking about doing a post asking if people had changed how they do that and if it was working for them. Maybe it's time for that. Sounds like it's working for you.

Thanks again for sharing all of this!

Anne

Molly C
PhotograPea Enabler

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Posted: 4/28/2010 7:32:56 AM
Yay!! Thanks so much for your tutorial, Jenn. You have a couple of tricks up your sleeve that I will have to try.

For those of you who are experimenting with zeroing out, push your exposure in camera. I am now shooting a full +1, with spot metering for my fair children and my exposures are much more accurate for zeroing.

There is no gold star award for zeroing, it just depends on the way you want to process. If you don't want to spend a lot of time in post, stick with the raw defaults and tweak as necessary. If you want more latitude in processing/contrast/color OR you are a sadist for processing like I am, then push your exposure in camera to give you a better starting base. Make sure you are heavily ETTR, even a few blinkies on your LCD screen will be okay if you shoot raw and will be recoverable when you zero out. I might even try +1 1/3, but I sent my camera to the spa yesterday, so I have to wait for its return to experiment more. Some of it will depend on what else is in the frame; like if there is a lot of white, I'll stick to +1, but if the rest of the scene is relatively dark or midtoned, I think I can do a higher exposure.


Molly

Nikon D700
Nikon lenses & flash, AB400 and softbox

~Jenn H~
AncestralPea

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Posted: 4/28/2010 7:38:46 AM

I think you mean you slide the left slider to the right....the left slider doesn't slide to the left.


LOL, Anne! Fixed it! Thank you!

When my EHD crashed and took this lesson with it, I was only able to recover chunks of paragraph, not the first part or anything easy to recreate. It kinda felt like a big, headache-inducing fill in the blank test. So if anyone sees anything else that doesn't make sense, just post, and I'll fix it. (I proofread this thing, like, 30 times, though...)

ETA, Re: zeroing out- I'm not an expert on it, but for me, I like the idea of adding whatever contrast, color, brightness, etc. I want in PS instead. I love LR for sorting and correcting, but I feel like I have more precise control over adjustments in PS.


~Jenn H~

Canon 7D | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.8 | 28mm 2.8 | Tokina 10-17 fisheye | 430EX II

PS CS4, LR 2.0

"Why can't life just be polite?"

~FM Static

TrUcksR4CowGirlS
The important thing is not the camera but the eye.

PeaNut 214,042
July 2005
Posts: 6,406
Layouts: 91
Loc: California

Posted: 4/28/2010 10:20:58 AM
Molly, thanks for explaining the "why" of it. That's where I was stuck, and that to do so, you need to bump your exposure up. Appreciate it!




Staci
Staci Brock Photography

What's in my Crumpler bag:
Nikon D200; Nikkor VR 18-55mm; Nikkor 70-300mm; Nikkor 50mm 1.8; Tamron 28-75mm 2.8; .5 Wide Angle with Macro

On My Computer:
CS4, Imagenomic: Portraiture, Noiseware, Real Grain


thevalerie
picture perfect

PeaNut 42,646
July 2002
Posts: 19,396
Layouts: 491
Loc: Upstate NY

Posted: 4/28/2010 10:56:10 AM
Jenn, this thread is going right into my faves. Thank you so much for the lesson! Miss seeing you around here on a regular basis.




barbinga
PeaFixture

PeaNut 57,417
November 2002
Posts: 3,064
Layouts: 18
Loc: metro atlanta, ga

Posted: 4/29/2010 7:53:19 AM
Absolutely awsome - just like I knew it was going to be!!

WVButterfly
Ok, I have 5000 posts...now what?

PeaNut 230,463
November 2005
Posts: 10,109
Layouts: 1
Loc: West Virginia Mountains

Posted: 4/29/2010 8:22:18 AM

I tried to break it down pretty far for the new kids, and also use PSE friendly tools (like hue/sat instead of selective color) so that the most amount of people could benefit from it.


And it is sooooo very appreciated! I've been playing with PSE for a couple of years now and still feel like a new kid...one who just doesn't seem to catch on I can't wait to get home this evening and try out your awesome tips!

Thank you so much for putting all of this together for us, Jenn! You rock


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Carla
Sony A200 DSLR
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro
Sony 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 (kit lens)
Sony 50mm f/1.4
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Telephoto/Macro
Sony 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 Telephoto (it was on sale for $69.00...I couldn't resist!)
Sony HVL-F20AM flash

coopsmommy
sPEAch theraPEAst

PeaNut 211,790
June 2005
Posts: 6,100
Layouts: 72
Loc: las vegas

Posted: 4/30/2010 11:36:20 AM
Wow Jenn, thanks for putting this together, great info...bookmarking it for sure!

****quick question, do you run noiseware on all of your images? (is it just part of your workflow?)****

THANKS!


Nicole

my new blog

Canon 40D | 28-70 2.8 | CS4 | LR

sweetcanela
PeaNut

PeaNut 427,852
June 2009
Posts: 12
Layouts: 0
Loc: somewhere in the world

Posted: 8/3/2010 2:46:39 AM
thank you so much for taking the time to write this...i learn something new all the time!
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