Monday, September 3, 2007

Letting Your Image Take Off

The opening image for this column was inspired by something that I try to do all the time in real life, with my photography and in the digital darkroom: have fun! The image looks as though my son and I are soaring at top speed high above beautiful blue water in a colorful biplane. It's one of my favorites, which I created after a family trip to the Florida Keys, and it captures the speed, fun, excitement and togetherness of our experience.

By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take OffSTEP FIVE This is the result of using the Magic Eraser tool on the left side of the image. Like magic, the beautiful blue water and boats are revealed.

STEP SIX In looking at the image, I thought our faces were too red and still a bit too dark. I went to Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Color for Skin Tone. Then, to brighten up the entire scene, I used the Sunshine filter in Color Efex Pro 2.0, a Photoshop plug-in from Nik Software.

Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take Off Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take Off

Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take OffSTEP SEVEN Here, you see a brighter, more colorful image. You also can see that my use of the Magic Eraser tool wasn't perfect. I could have returned to work with that cool tool, used the standard Eraser tool to touch up the picture or used the Blur tool to blur the edges of the plane to hide the imperfections, but I had an easier solution, which I'll share with you after the next step.

Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take OffSTEP EIGHT I wanted to create the effect that we were flying at an angle over the water, which helps to emphasize a sense of speed and action in an image. On land, I would have tilted the camera downward to the left or right. Here, I selected the Crop tool, moved my cursor outside of the image area and tilted the image.

Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take OffSTEP NINE After I pressed Return, my picture looked tilted! Technically, this is called the disequilibrium effect. You've probably seen it on MTV or in fashion magazines.

Quick Fix: Letting Your Image Take OffSTEP TEN Back to fine-tuning! This is how I hid the imperfections, which is the technique that made the image soar. First, I flattened the image. Then, I created a duplicate layer by going to Layer > Duplicate Layer. Now I had two identical images, one on top of the other. Next, with the top layer selected, I went to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur > Zoom and blurred the entire image. I used the Eraser tool on the toolbar and erased the area over our faces, which revealed the sharp area below. For the final touches, I added the drop shadow by going to Style > Effects > Drop Shadow and added the black frame line by selecting the entire image (Select > All) and going to Edit > Stroke Outline. Now it's your turn to let your imagination take off with your images!

Rick Sammon's recent books include Idea to Image, Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography and Rick Sammon's Digital Imaging Workshops. He has produced a DVD for Photoshop Elements users, 3-Minute Digital Makeover, and DVDs for Photoshop CS users, Awaken the Artist Within, Close Encounters with Camera Raw and Photoshop CS2 for the Outdoor and Travel Photographer. Visit

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