Tag Archives: how to

How I Did It: RIP

Remember Sunday’s post with the roadside memorial?

Roadside memorial

I shared it on Facebook and a couple of Photoshop-savvy friends took guesses on how I created it, but they couldn’t figure it out. Their methods were more work than what I actually did. In fact, my method was ridiculously easy. I didn’t do any painting or erasing. In fact, I barely did anything by hand.

First, let’s look at the original photograph:

Definitely missing something

It was a quick stop; I had spied the memorial earlier, and on my way home, I parked, dashed over and grabbed a few shots with my iPhone. This was the best of the bunch, and I consider it an example of why, as much as I love my iPhone camera, it often fails me. Since I am limited as to how much I can control the exposure, this photo wound up washed out and did not tell the story I saw there. But I knew from the start that what I recorded in pixels was not going to be the end product.

The first thing I did was make the corrections in exposure and contrast that the iPhone couldn’t do on its own. I also cropped it to better emphasize my subject:

It's looking better already

As much as it had improved, the dirt and dried up brush was really busy and I felt it overpowered the important elements — the cross, the flowers and, importantly, the little burnt-out glass candles. So I pulled out a trick I have been playing with a lot recently:

This photo's secret weapon

Yep, the Hue/Saturation adjustment. But the fun is in using it selectively. I bypassed the master control completely and adjusted the different colors. Since dirt is primarily Reds and Yellows, I desaturated them both by quite a bit. Here are my adjustments for those colors:

This worked like magic!

I didn’t take out these colors completely; I wanted to leave just a touch in. Meanwhile, I pumped up the Magentas, Cyans and Greens considerably and tweaked the Blues just a bit. Here is what I wound up with:

Yes, there is one more step

Yes, it is missing one thing: the cross — because when I desaturated the Reds and Yellows, it removed most of the cross’s color. What I did about that happened right after I added the contrast and minor color corrections, but before the Hue/Saturation adjustment: I masked out the cross with the Polygonal Lasso tool (I tried several methods and that one worked the best):


That was the only thing I remotely did by hand. Once I was done with the rest of the adjustments, I added it back in, and that completed the picture.

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How I Did It – the Tripod-less Night Shot

I thought it would be fun to occasionally show how I created a photograph, whether it has to do with taking the photo itself or a series of effects added later. Today, it is really simple — I’m going to show you how I captured the night shot from earlier this week:

Colorado and Mt Royal Drive at twilight

If you recall the title of that post, I didn’t have a tripod. In fact, I had gone out purely to capture the Pete’s Blue Chip sign from yesterday. But of course no photographer can go out to take a photo of one thing without being inspired to grab a few shots of something else too. It was just past twilight and I thought it would be fun to get shots of the traffic speeding by. But the whole secret of getting a photo of those headlight streaks is keeping the camera perfectly still. In lieu of a tripod or a platform on which to set the camera, I needed something to brace myself against to be able to remain still for the .6 seconds of the shot. I used the pole of a traffic light… but this pole had something special that really helped. In fact I went back the next day and took a photo of it:

Traffic Pole during the day

I squeezed myself in between the metal signs, and that helped keep me still. I also set the timer for a 2-second delay so I didn’t jerk the camera by pushing the shutter button when I took the shot. It took a couple of tries to match the delayed timing with the traffic, but once I got the hang of it, I was able to take a series of images that included the one you see above. Other than a few touch ups in Photoshop for slight cropping, color and such, what you see is pretty much what I got.

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