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Experimental processing (for me)

By dudler
It's taken well over a month for me to get near to completing the edit on this. Sheer cowardice.

It involves my new Wacom tablet, and Layers, and Masks.

And I know it's not right, but it felt like putting it in the CG was a good way to get myself kicked down the road (© Teresa May).

As I recall, the process (after a bit of very basic correction during conversion from RAW) was that I made an adjustments Layer and cloned out the background obstructions, then adjusted the levels to make the remaining background fairly uniformly light. They I applied a mask and erases the mask over Freya and her parachute dress. The background is not as uniform as I wanted it... Otherwise, it seems to have been pretty successful, in my eyes.

Trying to select the figure and dress accurately - an alternative method suggested by a fellow Critique Team member - really wasn't working for me. My control of a Wacom pen is not good enough for that yet.

I need to get far more familiar with Layers, I know. Suggestions welcome - though these should bear in mind that I don't want to spend hours and hours processing a single image...

My blog today is about an area where (while I'm still learning) I know a fair amount already, and wonder what elements others want to know about.

Tags: Fashion Freya Silverwell Studio parachute dress

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jacomes Plus
5 26 26 Portugal
7 Oct 2020 10:13AM
Not bad at all for a first effort John.
The gradual shading to grayer tones upwards is fine by me, but there are obvious cloning traces (as you are no doubt well aware0 in the top left corner and above the model's head and left (horizontal) arm. And also mid left above the dress (splendid idea and colour ) and a white patch just under the dark part of the dress. Good points are the orange reflection of the dress in the floor and the shadow around it.
Like you I'm just starting to learn about layers, and building skills with a Wacom tablet which I've had for a few years. But I've yet to master cutting out background or subject to create a new background. Most good editing suites seem to have a "magnetic" outline tool which automatically outlines the selection even if you only follow the line roughly, have you tried that? My one effort with Photoshop one was not very successful and I've yet to try the tool with Affinity.
The mode,l her pose and the dress are tops, naturally.
Good luck with your learning a new skill, James
bliba Plus
15 2 Austria
7 Oct 2020 10:15AM
I like the result - very well done JWinkhn
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
7 Oct 2020 10:20AM
Hi, James - Yes - I've tried the magnetic thingy, and the problem is that I haven't found what I need to do to refine it... It's not, at first glance, entirely accurate - I suspect there's a way to make it more gentle, in the same way as you can set clone/eraser/etc to have soft edges.
7 Oct 2020 10:45AM
As above. The orange reflection on the floor is a plus and yes, a bit scruffy around the midriff. If you selected the ground with a low tolerance near the model with a feather radius of 1 or 2, then the cloned area would be crisper without spilling over onto the midriff. Hope this is usefull
chase Plus
15 1.9k 482 England
7 Oct 2020 10:56AM
Firstly John, well done, I know this is a big step for you.
A very difficult subject to isolate, to that end, practice, practice...etc Wink

You have left some tell tale signs from the bg but it's not drastic. I removed them with the clone tool set to 'lighten' on a separate layer...of course Wink
So, in my mod, I took it a couple of stages knew that was coming Blush
Removed the bits of the bg as mentioned above.
Restructured her tummy, again, with the clone tool.
Yep, added a light texture at around 29%, softened it by duplicating the texture layer and blurring it...that's another lesson, far too complicated as yet for you I feel.
Removed some of the texture on the dress etc. using a mask.
Popped on the darken/lighten centre from Nik.
Darkened some of the creases on her dress with the burn tool and lightened a couple of places with the dodge tool. All on separate layers with masks.

Converted to sRGB

I know getting your head round that kind of stuff is hard work but once it clicks you will never have to remember it all ever again Wink

Kudos John.
Janet xx
sawsengee Plus
14 6 36 Malaysia
7 Oct 2020 11:04AM
Hi John, lovely visual effect and composition, and it is not an easy image to modify but I will try these settings taking into consideration the following:
1. the background is clearly very uneven, scratchy and blotchy distribution of light and shadows;
2. the model's mid drift has been blurred off using the clone brush;
3. just to be picky, there is a large black dot under the garment shadow.
I have tried to even the background (not using layers) thereby resulting in reducing some details on the skirt folds. The resultant modification is a rather blended visual, lighter effect (with the model's face more visible) and makes the model and skirt having a "floating effect" rather than a stick on.
Hope you like it.
p.s I do not use Photoshop software but other editing tools.
Best wishes, ee Smile
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
7 Oct 2020 11:08AM
Ian - I must examine this tolerance of which you speak... And feather radius! I understand that this matters, but I'm still at the point that I cannot predict how using the eraser is going to work - showing what I want, or doing nothing, or working back to front. Rather like driving a left hand drive car, with the accelerator in the middle, and some Very Important unlabelled controls on the dashboard...

Janet - of course I knew that was coming - the comments I'm getting are the spur I need to do more with this... You're quite right: textures are for another year. Possibly!

I am still working on the sRGB thing - I understand the concept, but PS seems to have a will of its own, and changing the colour space doesn't automatically solve it, I'm finding. There's probably some tool, setting or trick that I've not tumbled to.

ee - all helpful! (And all nicely observed) I think that the black spots are probably on the floor (keeping a white floor in a studio requires gallons of paint!) but they prove that in trying to do something big, one forgets the basics!
jacomes Plus
5 26 26 Portugal
7 Oct 2020 11:54AM
Looks like I missed some details, just shows you have to go back to an image several times to to spot all the faults. I do like the background in Janet's mod and the more saturated colour.
The black and folds on the floor behind the dress are bit messy and could perhaps be cloned out too.
kaybee 16 7.5k 26 Scotland
7 Oct 2020 12:04PM
My suggestion .............. Practice. The more you do it the easier it gets and the faster you get. There are no shortcuts (just loads of ways to it (or anything in Photoshop come to that)).
Saastad Plus
1 16 15 Norway
7 Oct 2020 12:05PM
You have not find the easiest photo to work with. All the tricky parts is where the background hit model. And you have to be a very patient person to do a job like this perfect. You have already been told witch part to work with.
And got a lot of good advice. I will not try to explain in my bad English, but give you a advice. You Tube have so many videos about different ways to do this, and you can see them over and over again. And you can find the way that fit you best.
Good luck John Smile

dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
7 Oct 2020 12:37PM
Cheers, Roy, Arne, James (again) -

I shall go for the 'practice' - at school there was a maths teacher who was brilliant, but an appalling teacher. If you asked him to go through something again, he's show you a different way, so that you now had two ways that you didn't understand. It works far better, I feel, to get one route firmly embedded before looking for a second one. Unless Route 1 is actually a dead end...
Chrism8 14 958 27 England
7 Oct 2020 2:36PM
Good attempt John,

I've tweaked further from the starting point you've given us as below :- ( mod added )

I used the magic wand to select the bg and change to white, ( could have been any colour ) use the up arrow to refine the selection, then ran a low opacity brush in white to lose the rough edge of the shadow and blend into the floor better, also cloned in the white bits on the parachute and copied and pasted a square over the totally white one on the edge of the parachute.

banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4177 Canada
7 Oct 2020 2:54PM
I wasnt to download the version but cant download it as a jpeg. Only as a WEBP file. Ill have to figure out how to convert it for Photoshop
banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4177 Canada
7 Oct 2020 3:33PM
Ok managed it and uploaded a mod of the start position.

I used quick select, zoomed in and added or subtracted bits as needed, applied a 2 pixel feather, inverted selection. Sampled an 11x11 section of background; made a layer copy; filled selection with that colour (only the dancer is visible), applied a mask and revealed the area of shadow/colour under her using black, 10 minutes total.
kaybee 16 7.5k 26 Scotland
7 Oct 2020 3:42PM
John - I have to agree, it is a case of finding a method you understand and stick with it (at least until you really get on top of it) and do not worry about people saying "I know a better way - do this, this and this".
mistere Plus
7 6 4 England
7 Oct 2020 4:33PM
As has been said, Practise, practise, practise. The tools to do what you want are in the program(s), you just have to figure out which ones to use and how to use them. There are several different methods for replacing a background, lots of instructional video's on you tube.
Its difficult on a very low res copy so the mods are very good. Mine was just for fun, sorry.
7 Oct 2020 5:43PM
Not at all bad for an early attempt, and lots of help offered above. The whole Layers thing keep at it... as you go along it gets clearer, makes more and more sense. You'll soon get to the point where you think "why oh why didn't I do this before!??!?"

" I don't want to spend hours and hours processing a single image..."

...I often do.
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
7 Oct 2020 5:56PM
OK, an extra bit of info, prompted by Dave's comment - I didn't want to replace the background - just make it simpler. Ideally, I'd have shot against a massive white infinity cove, but there aren't many of those around.

But much of what people have said applies anyway, and I'm fine with zany mods, Dave. If you'd like a full-size RAW file to play with, just ask!

Thank you for the detailed repairs, Chris and Ian - I'm not sure how i feel about these... The line of the dress isn't neat (there's so much cloth that it necessarily has some folds in it), so it's a question of whether the mods look more natural to the casual viewer. As I'm not a casual viewer, I don't have an unbiased opinion: part of me always says 'but it was LIKE that', and I was there... I know Chris to stick close to reality, and Ian often spends a great deal of time removing distracting detail that I'll consign to 85mm and f/1.8! Thank you both, though, for offering me some extra thoughts. I note, though, that the rough edge of the shadow is the result of selecting with the lasso tool, and it's not in the original or the lead that I posted. I think discovering that the selection tools can't really cope with that moved me away from trying that route.

And I realise that is a personal decision, to stay conceptually simple. It feels sort of inelegant to do something that causes secondary problems, but maybe that's the darkroom me thinking that.

Willie - beautiful and subtle.

I shall play with more images from the day...
7 Oct 2020 6:15PM
Not a bad attempt John. Whilst as you have acknowledged there are areas needing refinement you've avoided the problem that I generally don't, that is you've avoided making the subject look like a cut-out.

dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
7 Oct 2020 6:41PM
Thanks, Alan. Though I did it the coward's way, by not using the selection process...
7 Oct 2020 6:55PM

Quote:Thanks, Alan. Though I did it the coward's way, by not using the selection process...

I think it's probably best be selective (no pun indented) with the selection tool if you don't need to totally replace the background. Just work on the BG and try to achieve what you want.
Jestertheclown 12 8.3k 253 England
7 Oct 2020 8:46PM

Quote:Ill have to figure out how to convert it for Photoshop

"Affinity" recognises WEBPs.
sherlob Plus
14 3.1k 129 United Kingdom
7 Oct 2020 10:12PM
Hi John, sorry but I prefer Janet's (Chase) mod. Out of interest - take a look at Topaz AI Mask. I downloaded the 30day trial version to have a play with complex star scape masks. It worked really well (albeit I couldn't then get my star stacking software to recognise the blooming mask I had created!)
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
7 Oct 2020 10:32PM
Thanks, Adam, but I am not looking to get any extra software! I am learning about some areas of PS that many people consider basic: Layers and Masks really are not a part of my armoury. Therefore, I can't say that the problem is that PS doesn't do it well enough - I have no idea whether it's PS, me, or my inability to manipulate a pen (and that is a non-trivial part of what I'm consciously working on: my hand moves a pen on paper that I'm watching well enough: but I can't draw. There are movements and strokes that I cannot perform even when the pen is touching the surface I'm working on. With a stylus and tablet two feet from the screen, it is VERY unnatural, fells wrong). If I get over that, drawing outlines may be easier...
8 Oct 2020 12:44AM
This is all a very interesting discussion..for someone who does not and has not used layers.....I tend to do very scant modification of my images...And, fascinating to see the mods.

Jestertheclown 12 8.3k 253 England
8 Oct 2020 8:24AM

Quote:There are movements and strokes that I cannot perform even when the pen is touching the surface I'm working on. With a stylus and tablet two feet from the screen, it is VERY unnatural, fells wrong). If I get over that, drawing outlines may be easier...

Same here.

I can use Photoshop pretty well but only if I'm using a mouse.

I bought a Wacom about five years ago and no matter how hard or often I've tried to make it work, I've failed miserably.
8 Oct 2020 8:45AM
I do it all on my laptop, using the trackpad. Works well enough for me, though the occasional lack of fine precision can involve a little extra effort.
I can appreciate your feeling of disconnectedness, using a tablet/stylus... I wonder if you might find it easier working directly on your computer using a mouse, same as Jester?
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1740 England
8 Oct 2020 9:54PM
I've got more experience of using a mouse, and it feels more natural to use that 'disconnected' than a stylus. However, there are some movements that simply don't come naturally to my hand. (If I could draw easily, I'd never have started taking pictures... Well, maybe: but you get my drift...)

I know that I need to master the tablet, as well as Layers and Masks. But it will take time!

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