Sunday, January 18, 2009

Masking a Yellow & Blue Flower

Where I live, a deep cold sets in every now and then (Ottawa the coldest capitol in the world). The one good point about –33 degrees is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s in C or F. It’s the same and it’s very cold.

This week I thought I would take a review of some of my sunnier and warmer images and I had one subject in mind. While on route through the hard drive folders, I came across an image that for some surprising reason has always peaked my interest but as yet never experienced any playful adjustments. What better is there to do on such a cold day.

Part of the interest with this image was that I thought I could create more colour contrast between the yellower parts of the flowers and the yellow-green and darker lower parts of the flowers. Another appeal was from my previous article Winter Fog – Great Photography Weather , which looked at creating masks. Sometimes it’s just fun to play.

I thought with just the right mask I could add more blue and cooler tones to the under world and with the very yellow flower heads I could make them warmer (orange) and increase the contrast of the softer petals.

For the blue changes I duplicated the layer and used LAB mode to adjust both the blue and green channels and then converted back to RGB mode.

Initially I tired using the same techniques as last time but as you can see from the original camera image below there is really only varying tones of lime colors and the copy/paste and fade to screen or multiply didn’t give me the right separation for a mask.

Another Method to find a Mask

It hadn’t occurred to me before and maybe some of you are already using this method, but in camera RAW with the temp adjustment and the curves and B&W adjustment I should be able to create a good mask. A Photoshop layer can also be created with the adjustment layers but I find the color temp along with the 2 extra colours available in the RAW adjustments that this is better than a Hue/Sat and a B&W layer.

It was easy to create 4 similar but slightly different masks, as I wasn’t sure which would work best for the changes I was going to make.

Top Left
Standard B&W RAW setting
I just set the HSL / Grayscale tab to convert to grayscale’ and a slight yellow increase and then imported the image through ‘the ‘Place’ function in Adobe Bridge.

Top Right
Hue and Sat B&W
I increased the yellow and orange and decreased the green and blue channels.

above image is 1200x800

Bottom Left
In this version I maxed out the orange and red and left the yellow at 70%, the rest remained the same. This mask was for parts that were more pure yellow less green or cool tones.

Bottom Right
H&S Curves B&W
In this version I used the Curves Tab in RAW for radical adjustments to create more of a true mask. The other settings being set as before.

The 2 bottom masks seemed useful and with a slight bit of cleaning up these would work as masks.

The blue leaves and the darker greens were created in LAB on one layer and masked in. On other layers, curves and hues with mask were used to increase warm colours and contrast of these parts.

I often use the ‘Difference’ mode on some layers as image file is being created. You never know what strange beauties will emerge. The blue flower version was created by using several layers and the mask above played with blend mode. I then used a hue-sat adjustment layer on the left image to change the hue of the blue flowers to red flowers.

You may wonder why and sometimes I do also, but I do find a certain charm in their abstractness developed from a photo image.

Niels Henriksen


Anita Jesse said...

Another wonderful post. Wow. Thank you for sharing your techniques. I hadn't thought of creating masks in ACR and one brief experiment showed me how right you are. Thanks!

Jack Cabbage said...

Nice step-by-step.

nielsp said...

Anita and Jack:

Thanks for your kind words. The feedback I receive helps me to better understand what the readers of this blog enjoy and gives feedback on more articles to include in the future.



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