Illuminated Pumpkin
Pumpkin House
South Capitol Neighborhood
Olympia, WA

Read about the annual display at Thurstontalk.com

Photo of the Week - October 28, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Movie
Historic Capitol Theater
Olympia Film Society

Olympia, WA
October 28, 2012

Replacing the Sky in an image

Replacing the Sky in an image using the Paste Into command
Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

Original Image of Skateboarders at Jefferson Park, Seattle
Graphic Image of Skateboarders with Blue Sky and Clouds

This is one of those tutorials that requires lots of side notes. While it might seem to be straightforward to drop a nice blue sky into an image with a big dull white horizon, it isn't really that simple.
Some things to consider:
  • Scale - your replacement sky should look realistic behind your original image. If the clouds are too big or small, they will look highly unnatural.
  • Horizon - it is easier to replace the sky when you have a simple horizon, such as a hillside slope. Irregular horizons, such as those with trees or grasses, can be difficult to create realistic transitions. Often soft original edges can become blurry looking replacements. Or, the photos can look like they were merged with a dull pair of scissors.
  • Light - make sure that lighting conditions are similar and the highlights and shadows match in direction between the two images.
  • Crispness - both images should have similar crispness. Don't blend a soft primary image with a crisp sky. It will look unreal.
  • Experiment and have options - you may need to play with 3 or 4 base images and 3 or 4 skies before you find the 2 images that work together best. Be patient and enjoy the process.
How to:
  1. Make preliminary brightness and contrast adjustments to your two images individually.
    • Save your work
    • If you make any layers, create a duplicate image.
    • Flatten the layers duplicate images (last item in Layers menu)
    • Save your work
  2. Open your images/flattened duplicates in Photoshop
  3. Make the image whose sky needs to be replaced the active image.
  4. Use a selection tool to select the sky. Choose one of the following
    • Try the magic wand (which selects by color); set your tolerance at 20 to begin.
    • The quick selection tool selects by choosing pixels of similar qualities as you drag across an area.
    • Polygon lasso tool can be used if you have a regular, geometric edge.
    • All selection tools can be added to by holding down the shift key while clicking or dragging a second time.
    • All selection tools can remove information by holding down the Alt key while clicking or dragging.
  5. Refine the edges of your selection. This is found under the select menu. Your feathering will most likely be at less than 2 pixels for a crisp edge.
  6. Make your sky image the active image.
  7. Select > All
  8. Edit > Copy
  9. Make your primary image the active image. It should still have the marching ants from selecting
  10. Edit >  Paste INTO . This is very important. It will give you the greatest flexibility in resizing your sky image relative to the original.
  11. Save a COPY of the image as either a psd or tiff. These two file types preserve layers.
  12. Resize your sky as needed. Use the Free Transform command
    • In Photoshop, click Edit > Free Transform
    • In Elements, click Image > Transform > Free Transform
  13. Save your work

Replacement sky

Photo of the Week - October 23, 2012

Agatha Smith Graveyard
Halloween comes early to Capitol Way
Olympia, WA

October 23, 2012

Image with a blurred edge vignette

Creating a soft blurred edge on an image in Photoshop
Original Image without editing
  1. Open image in Photoshop. Adjust brightness, contrast and color as needed. Save changes.
  2. Create a duplicate image
  3. If needed, flatten this new image to a single layer by clicking Layer > Flatten Image
  4. Create a duplicate layer by clicking Layer > Duplicate Layer
  5. Click File > Save As to save the duplicate image as a psd or tiff file (with layers)
  6. Blur the duplicate layer by clicking Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
    You will have a preview of the amount of blur as you slide the slider.
    Most often it is desirable to see some of the shapes and details of the original image.
    When you have the desired amount of blur, click OK.
  7. Choose your elliptical marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M)
  8. Draw an ellipse over the area you wish to keep.
  9. Feather the edges of the selection by clicking Select >  Refine Edge.
    You should have a preview of the softness of the edge. Slide the slider until you have the best balance of softness and realism. Click OK.
  10. Cut the selection by clicking Edit > Cut.
  11. Review your results. If you don't like what you see, undo and redo until you like the results.
  12. Save your work.
  13. Flatten your image. Layer> Flatten
  14. Click File >  Save As to save in a jpg file format for sharing and posting on the web.
Finished image with blurred edges

elliptical marquee before and after

Photo of the Week - October 14, 2012

Still Life of a Padlock
Olympia, WA
October 14, 2012

Students and fellow photographers often ask me about the process I use when taking photographs. They are often surprised to learn that I plan and pre-visualize many of my photographs before I press the shutter button. And, they are often incredulous when I tell them that I often plan the photographs before I leave home to shoot for the day. I often think about what I am likely to see on an outing and what kind of messages I wish to communicate. This helps me decide which lens to bring and what settings to plan to use on the camera.

This week's photo of the week is a good case in point. I planned the story and anticipated the look before I pressed the shutter. The photo was part of a small project featuring a single subject as the focal point in an image.

Some of the options I chose for this image:
  • Black and White - limits distractions and unifies image.
  • High Contrast - to create gritty, urban, isolated feel.
  • Shallow depth of field - low numbered f-stop focuses eye on primary subject.
  • Underexposure - limits impact of surroundings; focuses eye on lock's shiny highlights. Also, emphasizes curvy shape of lock.
  • Tele-photo lens - flattens the look of the image, making it more graphic and isolated.
The image above is what I shot in camera. It was not edited or re-imagined in the computer.

The image below was taken at the same time, in color, with normal exposure, to show how the scene actually looked to a passerby.

Photo of the Week - October 5, 2012

Party Lanterns in a Box

October 5, 2012

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