Sharpening Images and the Unsharp Mask

One of the most often used and abused post processing tools are the sharpen filters. When applied properly, sharpening can boost the image by making it look crisper and more defined. However, there is a tendency to go overboard with this and the image can come out looking unnatural and ‘oversharpened.’ There is the popular misconception that if you sharpen a blurry image, it will magically appear clearer. What does happen is that the blurry image will just look more terrible. 

Sharpening works by exaggerating the contrast of the object’s edges, giving the viewer the impression of distinct delineation. There are many ways to do this. You can sharpen the entire image in one click with the Sharpen filter or you can use the Unsharp Mask for more control over how defined you want the sharpening to be. Some people prefer to use the High Pass Filter or the Smart Sharpen. Whichever method you use, just remember to be light-handed when sharpening since too much can make the image look unnatural with distorted pixels. One tip would be to sharpen only certain areas in the shot instead of the whole image. For example, if your image is of a bird flying against the cloudy sky, sharpen only parts of the bird while leaving the sky untouched to keep it looking smooth. 

An image edited with a simple Sharpen filter:

sharpcomp Sharpening Images and the Unsharp MaskWhen editing your image, always leave sharpening for last. Sharpening in the middle of editing is not advisable especially if the image might be resized later on. For full effect, do it when you have settled on the final size of your image. If you’re planning to sell your shots in a stock site, try not to sharpen your images at all. The buyers of your image might want to resize the shot and if there is obvious sharpening, they might be turned off from buying the image. Microstock sites have reviewers who peruse every single image that is submitted for possible photographic defects. They are very particular with photos that look too sharpened and I have had shots rejected because of oversharpening even though I hadn’t sharpened them at all.  

Sharpening might not make blurry images clearer but it can make images with soft edges appear better defined, and this can make a world of difference in your shot.

Let us use one sharpening tool and see how it works:

The Unsharp Mask is a quick process to emphasize the acutance (edge contrast) of details and it is controlled by three settings:

Radius – this defines the section to be sharpened. If you choose a low radius, only the pixels close to the edge will be sharpened and if you use a high radius, the larger the affected area. If you start seeing unsightly halos around the edges, it means you’re setting the radius value too high and is an indication to decrease the radius value. 

Amount – The edges of details have a lighter and a darker side and this setting controls how much contrast is applied. The light areas become lighter and the dark parts become darker when you increase the percentage amount.

Threshold – this limits the amount of sharpening that is applied to the image by determining how close pixels should be in order to be considered as edge pixels.  If there is little difference between pixels in a certain area, such as skin tones or an empty sky, then the threshold can be set to leave these areas from being sharpened. 

The settings to be used vary with each shot. Image size plays a big part in this case. For an image with a small print size, you would not need to increase the settings by a big margin before the result quickly becomes apparent.  The bigger the image size, the more you can increase the setting values. 

Step 1:

For this tutorial, Adobe Photoshop CS2 is used. Open a copy of your original image and create a duplicate layer. A keyboard shortcut to create a layer is Ctrl + J for Windows and Command + J for Mac.

Step 2:

beeselect Sharpening Images and the Unsharp Mask

 

 

Make a selection using the Lasso tool. Choose only the areas that need sharpening and leave the rest of the image untouched. In this example, only the bee’s wings, antennae, upper part of the body and the edge of the leaf were selected.

 Step 3:

 beesmartsharp Sharpening Images and the Unsharp Mask

Open the Unsharp Mask dialog box under Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask. The box shows a preview of a selected area, the three settings and the preview checkbox. If you check this, you will also get to see a preview of how your adjustments will affect the image in the main screen.

If it is your first time to use the settings, you can experiment first with how they work. Try dragging each slider one at a time to the opposite side of the bar and, although the effect will be exaggerated, you will have a good idea of how each one will affect the image.

Since the Radius setting is the most essential of the three, you can start with that and then adjust the Amount and then the Threshold. Once you are satisfied with the adjustments of the three settings, the outcome should be an image that is more defined than the original, yet with the appropriate areas kept smooth and unaffected. The result most likely will be subtle but still apparent, especially when compared to the original such as in this side by side comparison:

beeunsharp Sharpening Images and the Unsharp Mask

What happens if you go overboard with the Unsharp Mask? Unattractive and obvious effects begin to happen. If your radius value is set too high, halo artifacts begin to appear. These are very light and bright outlines near the edges of details. Jagged edges and pixelation might also occur along the edges. There is more visible noise and graininess which is most evident if you oversharpen sections with no edges. This is the reason why none-edged areas are too be avoided when sharpening. 

beeoversharp Sharpening Images and the Unsharp Mask


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: , , ,

1 Comment »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
How Pictures are Combined

Combining two or more pictures in a single frame enables digital photographers to come up with great artistic images that cannot be otherwise done with a single photograph of an image. This type of manipulation can be considered a distinct art form all on its own. By combining pictures, you can use your older images you have stored in your computer to create unimaginable artistic pictures and use it as your creative medium.

combine1 How Pictures are Combined

This type of manipulation will take a lot of creativity and imagination on your part because it requires more than the usual tidying up of an image. This can be used  for more than artistic interpretation but to create an actual believable image.

combine2 How Pictures are CombinedPlacing several shots in a single image is not at all difficult. You can take multiple exposure shots to replace a sky in a landscape to give your photograph a more dramatic impact.  For example, if you were to use a portrait, it would be useful to combine two frames from one shoot. If you photograph two models at the same time, it is difficult to make them look at their best at the same time. By combining pictures, you can merge a facial expression from one shot into another to get a perfect pose.

A technique used in photomerging is isolating each element using layers to be able to do small corrections in each piece of the jigsaw puzzle without affecting the image as a whole. Each piece may need its own distinct adjustments, effects and distortions. Layers are then arranged in groups or folders. The layers work within a folder enabling adjustments to not affect other elements. The folder will then act as a master layer that interacts with each other by using various blending modes, masks and opacities.

Layered Montages are separate images that have isolated elements in its own folder full of layers. This will allow you to remove each element in turn with respective adjustments.

Advanced blending such as in Photoshop will enable you to control the exact densities at which the blend will become visible. This further allows you to specify what areas you want the blend to affect whether it be light tones or dark tones within an image. This is also known as auto-masking. This can create effects that are impossible under natural circumstances.

 

 

 


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Photography Tutorials
Tags: , , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Photography Tutorials
How to Use the Dodge and Burn Editing Tools to Enhance Your Photos

There are several ways to edit a shot in Photoshop and two of the most underrated yet highly effective tools are the dodge and burn tools. These are found at the toolbar on the left. The default icon is the dodge tool and if you click on the little arrow, a dropdown list will appear showing the burn tool and also the—-.The dodge and burn tools are the digital equivalent of the methods used in the actual darkroom, where to 'dodge' meant to obstruct the light hitting a section of the photo paper from the —- with the use of an object. While to burn meant to allow more light to hit a specific section of the photo paper. Since one cannot really see the results until the image has been fixed with chemicals, the procedure would usually be trial and error with a lot of test prints involved. Now, digital technology has made it so much easier to achieve the visual results we want.

Let us try out the dodge and burn method with a sample image. Open an image in Photoshop and make a duplicate layer.

dodge1 How to Use the Dodge and Burn Editing Tools to Enhance Your Photos

Pinpoint the areas that would need to be darkened and/or lightened. Let us start with the dark area. In this image, the bottom part of the snail's shell and the lower left corner are too much in shadow and it would be a good idea for a little more light to show more details. Click on the dodge tool and keep the hardness set to 0% so that the edge of your brush is soft. Set the diameter to a manageable size so you have better control of your strokes. As for exposure, choose a percentage that gives a subtle yet visible result. A high exposure value would mean a more drastic dodge effect. Use the dodge tool like a brush and swipe the dark areas until they are light enough.

dodge2 How to Use the Dodge and Burn Editing Tools to Enhance Your Photos

dodge3 How to Use the Dodge and Burn Editing Tools to Enhance Your PhotosNext, choose the areas you want to darken such as the upper right corner. Burning would make that area more balanced in terms of tonal value. Click on the arrow on the dodge tool icon to show the burn tool option. Again, adjust the settings and swipe over the light areas until you are satisfied with the results.

The burn and dodge tools are great for spot adjustments and using them can enhance the light and shadows in your photo by making the light areas appear even lighter and the shadows darker. They can also lessen the degree of light and shadow detail to make the lighting appear more even.


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: , , , , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
How to Create HDR images

HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a method that allows you to take a picture of a subject with a brightness range that your camera’s sensor normally cannot capture.  This is done by shooting identical images that have been taken at several different exposures.  These are then blended together with the use of a photo editing program.

hdr31 How to Create HDR imagesAlthough two separate exposures can be used to produce an HDR image, three exposures are generally recommended to achieve quality results. The objective is to have one exposure that captures highlight detail, another that has shadow detail and a third that covers the midtones. The easy way to take these exposures is to use the auto-bracketing feature of the camera. This will capture what the camera considers as the regular exposure, another that is underexposed to a degree and still another that is overexposed. 

Auto-bracketing can often do the work for you but there are instances when you have to take manual control of the settings. An instance is when the multi-pattern metering systems of some cameras may detect the shadows of backlit subjects and compensate by overexposing the shots.  In this case,  you can make use of the spot metering mode or check the histogram  for more information.

Most current digital cameras allow you to adjust exposure bracket intervals and exposure compensation, but usually up to +/-2 EV (exposure value).  This may sound like a lot but you may need differences of 3EV or more.

hdr21 How to Create HDR imagesIf you want a quick way to take an HDR image, auto-bracketing could be sufficient. However,  you might benefit more by using manual exposure since you have control over the adjustments. Needless to say your camera should have the manual mode option.

Spot metering is often used to precisely measure exposure. To do this, take a spot reading from the darkest shadow portion of the scene, then another from the brightest portion. You can then use these readings to measure the average of the two for the midtone exposure value. 

Today’s cameras are equipped with features that can help provide exposure readings and the simplest is the histogram. If you have a compact or DSLR camera with Live View, turn on the histogram display. If your DSLR has no Live View, use the Playback Mode after you have taken your shot. 

First, choose your lens aperture and keep it the same with all your bracketed shots.  Let us say you are using an aperture of f/8. Only change the shutter speed when bracketing. For the ‘shadows’ exposure, adjust the shutter speed setting so that the left end of the histogram meets the left edge of the scale. The speed here could be slow such as 1/30sec. For the second exposure, set the shutter speed so that the right end of the histogram just meets the right edge of the scale. This will take care of the highlights and you might use a much faster shutter speed such as 1/500s. To get the midtones in the third hdr11 How to Create HDR imagesexposure, adjust the shutter speed midway between the previous two you used. You do not have to be exactly in the middle and in this example,  a shutter speed of 1/125sec would adequately capture the midtones. 

Since we have kept the aperture size the same and changed shutter speed settings, these speed variations increase the chances of camera shake. A tripod will take care of this issue and will be most helpful in other ways as well. Good HDR images have merged exposures that are perfectly aligned and although HDR merging tools do a decent job of automatic alignment, it is preferable to get it right in-camera. With a tripod, you can change your shutter speed settings while the camera remains completely immobile. 

Aside from camera movement, another thing to worry about is subject movement. There is a possibility that something in your scene might move or be moving, however slightly, and this can cause portions of your HDR image to come out looking blurry. People walking in and out of the scene or trees and bushes swaying in the wind can be problematic but there is not much you can do except to wait for the right moment or shoot duplicates of the three exposures. You can then choose which ones would be the best matches. If you are adept in using a photo editing program such as Photoshop, you could edit the bracketed shots to make them blend better into one quality HDR image.


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques, Photography Tutorials
Tags: , , , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques, Photography Tutorials
Reinventing the Darkroom Techniques

Since the digitized era penetrated the world of photography, the underlying dynamics of the art has been revolutionized enabling its ream to be practically limitless. With the many types of software available in the market such as Photoshop allows you to do things that was not possible in the days of film and the darkroom. There are extensive techniques and useful tricks that are still waiting to be discovered even by the most skilled photographers.

Even with all the newly developed methods that are waiting to be discovered, there are still the ageless practices that many photographers never get tired of recreating since the art of photography started over 160 years ago. Converting images to black and white and toning digital images with the use of Photoshop give the opportunity of showcasing your images in classic photography styles.

darkrm2 Reinventing the Darkroom TechniquesManipulation software is ideal to give your images a distinct style from a wide range of older techniques that were obscure or more popular at the time. These programs often have plug-ins or applications that can be downloaded and used on your images. But by using the standard adjustments and effect in Photoshop, you can make your ordinary images standout and add a lot more character.

Some of the more popular effects that you can try are:

Split-toning – this is an old darkroom practice where a black and white film is treated with two metallic tones in succession to make some of the midtones in the image become the same color and other are another. This can be done using an RGB scan of a black and white negative or to a desaturated digital image file. The adjustment is made by using Curves or Levels tool to the red, blue and green channels.

darkrm1 Reinventing the Darkroom TechniquesCross-processing – this is a technique that was popular in the music industry and many fashion photographers. Here color print film was processed in slide chemistry or slide film was processed like they were color negatives to create strange distortions in color and contrast that was very much the rage for magazine art editors.

Similar to split-toning, this can be done using Photoshop by adjusting the Curves of each channel such as using a full color image. Portraits yield better results. This type of adjustment typically recreates the processing of C41 negative film in E6 slide chemistry.

Sabattier effect – also known as solarization, is used to involve exposing the film or printing paper to light before it was fully developed. This can cause sight reversal to some of the tones darkrm3 Reinventing the Darkroom Techniquesand creating a tinge that is somewhat an in-between color of the original. This technique only allows you one opportunity to get the desired effect you want, and can rarely be replicated.

In Photoshop however, there is no such difficulty, and the Sabattier technique can be used in both monochrome and color images with definitive control. The basic technique is to make adjustments I the Curves to form a U shape line. And by further distorting the curve you can create even wilder effects. When you have the effect you are satisfied with, you can then make further adjustments to the color with the curves in each of the channels or by utilizing the other color adjustment tools. You can also try Filter>Stylize>Solarize in Photoshop for a quick effect.

The digital era has made photography limited only to your imagination, and with knowing how each tool works, you can apply it to you photographs to create visual depth in your work.


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Using the High Pass Filter to Boost Image Contrast

The High Pass filter is often used to sharpen or even soften image details but did you know that you can also use it to create a high contrast image? If you want your image to have a high contrast effect, there are many ways to achieve this in Photoshop and this filter is one of many effective ways to do it. In this tutorial, we will show how using the High Pass filter can enhance your image and give it more impact. 

It must be said that each image is different and the High Pass filter might show great results with some but not with others. Also, there are many other adjustment settings that you can use in connection with the filter to get various results. For this tutorial, we will be using Photoshop CS2 as the photo editing program although you can use another if it has the High Pass filter option.

Step 1:

Open your image and create a duplicate layer so you can leave your original image untouched. Click on Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and a dialog box will appear. Another way is to make it show is to click on the half black, half white circle under the Layers palette and choosing Hue/Saturation. Drag the saturation slider to around +15 then press OK.

hpcont1stlayer Using the High Pass Filter to Boost Image Contrast

Step 2:

Create a new adjustment layer, this time using brightness/contrast, drag the contrast slider to +15 and press OK.

Step 3:

Press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+e if you are using a PC (if on a Mac it is Shift+Alt+Cmd+E) in order to merge all these document layers into one new layer on top of all the others.

Step 4:

While targeting the new layer, go to Blending mode and choose Soft Light. You can use other blending modes such as Hard Light or Overlay if you want a stronger effect. If it is too strong to the point of being unappealing, you can reduce the opacity to tone it down. For this tutorial, we will be using Soft Light to show a more subtle effect.

hpcont2layer2 Using the High Pass Filter to Boost Image ContrastStep 5:

Click on the Add Layer Mask icon found at the bottom of the Layers palette to add a layer mask to the top layer.

 

Step 6:

Select the Brush tool and set the Hardness to 0%, the Opacity to around 50%, and the Mode to Normal. Make sure the foreground color is black and set the diameter to a manageable size. Now paint over the areas where you want to retain defined detail. Your brushstrokes will reveal the layer beneath it that is still in clear focus. In the meantime, the layer mask will show black lines which represent the strokes you are making. 

Step 7:

Again, merge all the document layers into one new layer and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Next, go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the radius value to around 3 pixels, depending on the image size and content. You can check the image preview and work at a suitable value based on the results shown. 

hpcont2hp Using the High Pass Filter to Boost Image Contrast

Here is a comparison between the original image and the final result after using the High Pass Filter:

hpcontcomp Using the High Pass Filter to Boost Image Contrast


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: , , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Using the High Pass Filter to Create a Soft Effect

The high pass filter is often used for sharpening images but it can also be used to have an opposite effect, which is to soften the details of an image. The softening can be applied to the whole image or just selected areas, leaving key details sharp and focused. 

A soft, diffused look is often used when you want to soften the texture of skin or if you want to create a dreamy effect. In this tutorial, we will explain how the high pass filter can be used for this purpose. Photoshop CS2 is the photo editing program used but other programs that include the high pass filter will also be sufficient in getting great results.

hporig Using the High Pass Filter to Create a Soft EffectStep 1:

Open your image and create a duplicate layer. If you have an existing image opened that has adjustments, create a new layer with a flattened version of the image. Click on the top layer to target it and then click Layer > New > Layer. Choose the new layer you created and press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E (if on a Mac it is Command + Option + Shift + E).

Step 2:

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass and a dialog box will pop up showing an image preview and the radius settings below it. Note that the higher the radius value, the softer the image will turn out. For this tutorial we will be setting the radius value at 15.

hphighpass Using the High Pass Filter to Create a Soft Effect

Step 3:

Now time for some diffused lighting! Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert so that only the areas that were untouched by the filter will be affected. Go to the Blending Mode dropdown list at the Layers Palette and choose Soft Light to produce a soft focus look. If you are happy with the overall appearance of the image, this can be your final adjustment. But if there are areas you prefer to remain sharp then proceed to the next step.

hpsoftlight Using the High Pass Filter to Create a Soft Effect

Step 4:

For this next step, we will be creating a layer mask where we can show the parts of the underlying layer which are still defined and clear. By clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon found at the bottom of the Layers palette, a layer mask is added. This appears as an empty white rectangle beside the active layer.

Step 5:

Now go to the Brush tool and set the Hardness to 0% so that the edges are at their softest. Keep the mode at Normal, the foreground color should be black and have the Opacity at around 80%. The brush diameter should be just large enough to trace the details you want to keep sharp without affecting the irrelevant areas. With the brush, paint over the areas that you want to remain sharp. You will notice that the sections you are painting are revealing the matching areas of the layer beneath it which are sharp. These parts that you are brushing will appear black in the layer mask.

hplayer Using the High Pass Filter to Create a Soft Effect

Note that if you think you overdid the brushing and want the revealed areas to be more hidden, just set the foreground color to white and paint over the selected areas. This will bring back the details from the top layer. To lessen the strength  of the overall blurriness, you can adjust the opacity or fill to a lower degree. 

Using the High Pass Filter to soften images is just one of many ways to achieve similar results in Photoshop. Also, some images could benefit more with other soft focus techniques compared to the High Pass option so if you don’t like how your image turns out with this method, try experimenting with other options.

hpcomp Using the High Pass Filter to Create a Soft Effect


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
How to Use the High Pass Filter to Sharpen Images

Photo editing programs offer various methods for you to sharpen your photos and the High Pass filter is one of the easiest yet most effective tools for the job. It selects the edges found in the image and sharpens them without affecting the areas that have no edges.

People have personal preferences over which sharpening tool works best for them and the High Pass filter is arguably the most popular for good reasons. One is that it locates the edges for you and you don’t have to manually select areas as you would with the Sharpen filter or Unsharp Mask (insert link to unsharp mask article). Another reason is that adjusting the filter is very simple since there are less settings to tweak compared to the others; in fact there is only one (unlike the Unsharp Mask which has three settings and the Smart Sharpen which has even more.) 

Here is a short tutorial on how to use the High Pass filter. Adobe Photoshop CS2 is used for this purpose and you might be using another photo editing program, but the concept works the same. If it is your first time ever to use this technique, you would be surprised by how quickly you will get the hang of it and make it a part of your post processing routine. 

Step 1: 

Open a copy of your original image (one can’t be too careful with keeping the original image safe!) and create a duplicate layer. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + J for Windows and Command + J for Mac. 

Step 2:

Change the duplicate layer’s blend mode from ‘Normal’ to ‘Overlay.’ You can find the blend mode options in the Layers Styles dialog box at the bottom right of the screen. The High Pass Filter works by turning to neutral gray all the areas of the image that do not have edges and the Overlay blend mode keeps all neutral gray areas from being adjusted. Therefore, the neutral gray areas will not be included in the sharpening. 

When you click on the Overlay blend mode, your image will suddenly appear to have more contrast like this:

highpassoverlay How to Use the High Pass Filter to Sharpen ImagesThis saturated effect will disappear once we click on the High Pass filter. 

Step 3:

While still highlighting the duplicate layer, click on the Filter menu (found on the toolbar on top of the screen) and choose ‘Other’ from the dropdown list, and then click on ‘High Pass.’ The High Pass dialog box will appear showing the preview of an area of the image in gray (edges are darker gray), the preview option and the one and only setting we mentioned earlier, the Radius setting. 

The Radius slider controls the amount of sharpening to be applied around the edges. Dragging the slider to the right will increase the radius value (in pixels) and affect a bigger area, while sliding it to the left reduces the intensity of the effect. By keeping the preview checkbox ticked, you can see how the image in the main screen is affected when you move the radius left or right. 

How much radius value to use depends on the pixel dimension of your image. Generally, the larger the image size, the higher the radius value you’ll need to use. A sign that you’re going overboard with the radius value is when halo effects begin to show up around the edges of details. This image size is rather small so a radius value of 1 pixel is enough to sharpen the edges without causing ill effects from oversharpening. 

highpass How to Use the High Pass Filter to Sharpen Images

Once you have chosen the radius value, just press ‘OK’ and you’re all done!

The photos below show the difference between the unedited image (photo on left) and the result of using a High Pass filter (photo on right):

hpf How to Use the High Pass Filter to Sharpen Images

Notice that the areas with edges, especially the hair, eyes, lips and the yellow curls, have become more defined while the areas with no edges, namely the cheeks, have remained smooth. 


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
The Advantages of Watermarking Your Photos

If you post your photos in the internet or email them to others, these images are at the risk of being copied without your permission. One deterrent to scare people away from stealing your shots is to place a watermark on your image. It can also provide information that would benefit the people you want to share your image with.

A watermark is an obvious text or logo that has been superimposed on an image. There are many types of watermarks and here are a few:

Generic text – this kind of watermark does not give any detailed information about you. For example, it can simply say ‘Do not copy’ or ‘Sample’.

Specific text – your watermark can also be used to identify you or the photograph in some way, such as your name or your website name.

Image – instead of text, an icon or logo may be used as a watermark for your image. This looks a bit more complex than a simple text but you just need to make the image watermark once and then apply it to all your photos. It is a great watermark if you have a business logo.

Copyright © – this is very often used because it tells everyone that you have placed copyright protection over the image. Although some will try to get a way around it by cropping out the watermark, or by removing it with a photo editing program, it does raise a red flag that you’re on the lookout to make sure your images are not stolen.

Embedded – this type of watermark is found in the image file data, rather than being displayed on the image itself. The advantage of this is that there is no visible watermark that may detract the viewer from fully appreciating the shot. However, embedded watermarking is not free and you would need to purchase a software or program if you prefer to use that method.

Many photographers do not like to add a visible watermark to their image because it covers a portion of the shot, even if it is transparent, and it can disrupt the concentration of the viewer. However, having a watermark is good practice especially if you are into online commercial photography. If you would notice, all photo stock sites have their or the photographer’s watermark shown very obviously and covering most of the frame in the images that have been uploaded to the site. These images are often in full resolution and what the customer would get once the watermark is removed. By stamping the image with a huge and blatant watermark, it will be difficult for an online thief to get rid off it.

If you simply want to share your photos online without the intent to sell them, you can upload a low resolution copy with a watermark at the bottom corner. Low res images can still look great online but will be small in size if they were printed. Also, it will be harder for an online thief to just crop out the watermark at the edge of the shot because they might also crop out an important element in the image.

Watermarking an image is a matter of personal preference and is not a fool-proof method to protect your images but it will certainly make others think twice before attempting to download and use your image without your consent.

There are many ways to add a watermark, from adding it through photo editing, to purchasing watermarking software that can watermark batches of photos all at once. In this article, we will be using Adobe Photoshop CS2 to add a text watermark to an image.

There are a few important things to remember before placing a watermark:

Keep the original images. Store them in a secure folder so there is no chance they will accidentally be saved over once your start photo editing.

Make copies for watermarking. Save them in a separate folder so they will be easy to find and access.

Decide whether you want to watermark your images as a batch or one at a time. If you have loads of photos, it would be more convenient to batch watermark them. However, you will not have complete control over the watermark’s exact placement compared to if you were doing them individually.

Decide on what your watermark will look like. Experiment with its size, opacity, and its location in the image. The more obvious and bigger the watermark, the better it is for security reasons. But the downside is it could cover much of the shot and also spoil the impact of the image.  Try to find a balance by making the watermark visible but not intrusive.

watermark The Advantages of Watermarking Your Photos

Adding a watermark in Photoshop is quick and easy and it won’t take up much of your time at all.

Here are the basic steps:

1. Open your image, make a copy layer and then click on the Type tool. Type in your copyright symbol © (keyboard shortcut is Alt + 0169 if you’re using Windows and Option-G if you’re using Mac) and your desired text.

 2. While still using the Type tool, you can highlight the entire text and choose the desired color, font and size.

 3.  The text will appear as a solid color so if you want to make it blend more with the image, it has to look less opaque. Click on Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options and drag the slider of the opacity bar to make the text more transparent (see screenshot).

 4. Once you’re satisfied with its opacity, click on the Move tool and drag the watermark to the desired spot in your image.

 5. Save the watermarked copy image.

 


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Business of Photography, Miscellaneous, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Business of Photography, Miscellaneous, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Quick Skin Retouching, Part 2: Skin Smoothing Using Gaussian Blur

If you want to smoothen skin in a jiffy in Photoshop, the Gaussian Blur tool is one way to do it. With this method, we will be blurring out the face and masking the sections that are not skin. It might come out a little unrealistic, however, since the result might be a porcelain effect. This is great if used for quick retouching of faces that do not take up a large part of the image. Or if you are deliberately going for the porcelain look!

Before you begin smoothing skin, remove any blemishes first. This is part 2 of Quick Skin Retouching and you can learn how to do blemish removal in Part 1. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using the same image sample after the discolorations have been removed. 

Step 1:

Open your image and create a new layer just so we don’t touch the opened image. 

Step 2:

Make a copy of the face by drawing a selection with the Lasso Tool. Keep the Shift key pressed to add to the selected area or hold down the Alt key to subtract from the selection.

Step 3:

Next, we will soften the edges of the selection we made, as well as smooth the transition between the selected and non-selected area. This is called Feathering, and it will help blend the selected face copy and the layer beneath it. Go to Select > Feather and input 20px from the popup window that will appear.

gausfeather Quick Skin Retouching, Part 2: Skin Smoothing Using Gaussian Blur

Step 4:

Go to Edit > Copy Merged (keyboard shortcut is Shift+Ctrl+C) and this will make a copy of the image, not just a layer. Go back to Edit and select Paste (Shift+Ctrl+V) and a new layer will automatically be created and placed on top of the one you have been using. This is the copy layer that we will be blurring.

Step 5:

Select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and choose a radius that will blur out the face to the point where the features are just recognizable. For this I used a radius of 15px.

gausblur Quick Skin Retouching, Part 2: Skin Smoothing Using Gaussian Blur

Step 6:

Now you will have what looks like a very blurry face. We will need to make certain details reappear such as the eyebrows, eyes, nose and mouth. Click on the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers Palette and then click on the Brush tool. Make the Opacity 100% and the Flow 20% so you can be more precise when you paint. Keep the foreground color black in order to hide the layer (white as foreground would show the underlying layer). With the brush, paint back the features. Use a wider brush diameter with a low opacity over areas that also have detail, such as the curve of the chin or the section above the upper lip, in order to show more facial contours. Remember to paint over the edges of the face as well to make the masking more seamless. 

gausmask Quick Skin Retouching, Part 2: Skin Smoothing Using Gaussian Blur

Step 7:

After masking to reveal the key features, you can reduce the strength of the blur by decreasing Opacity or Fill of the layer. For this I decreased the Fill to 35%. Here is a comparison after fading the Gaussian Blur effect:

The result is smooth looking skin. 

gauscomp Quick Skin Retouching, Part 2: Skin Smoothing Using Gaussian Blur

If the skin appears too artificial, you can add some texture by using the Add Noise filter. Since we don’t want to apply noise to the entire image, we will limit it only to the selected face area. A simple way to do this is to first use the Lock Transparency option in the Layers Palette. What happens is the transparent portions in the blurry face layer will remain unaffected after applying the Noise filter. Select Filter > Noise > Add Noise, and choose a small amount such as 2%. Tick the Monochromatic checkbox to make black and white noise (which gives a better textured effect) and select the Uniform option to make it more even.


Share |

Submit a Photography Article!

Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials
Tags: , , ,

No Comments »
Print This Post Email This Post
Permalink | Posted in Advanced Tutorials, Articles, Photography Tutorials, Photoshop Tutorials