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Drab To Fab

In this installment of Quick Fix, I’ll cover some of my favorite Photoshop features. Don’t worry if you don’t have Photoshop since many of these features or similar effects are found in other imaging programs. Okay, here are the features I’ll cover: Adobe Camera Raw, Shadows/Highlights, Lens Correction, Levels, Sharpening, Sponge Tool, Transform and Cropping. I’ll also touch on a cool plug-in effect.


The image that opens this column took me about 15 minutes to create in Photoshop. As you can see from this screen shot of the Adobe Camera Raw window, the original looks very flat because it was taken on an overcast day. What’s more, the horizon line is curved because I used a 15mm fisheye lens on my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which is a full-frame image-sensor camera. Originally, I liked the effect of the curved horizon line, but as you’ll see, I leveled it during my image-editing process.


I do as much editing as possible in Adobe Camera Raw, which is basically the same as working on RAW files in Lightroom or Apple Aperture. In this before-and-after screen grab of the main Adjustment panel, I made these adjustments:
•?Recovery—to bring back some of the lost detail in the water
•?Fill Light—to fill in some of the shadow areas
•?Contrast—because the image looked flat
•?Clarity—to give some "pop" to the picture
•?Vibrance—to add Rsome color to the noncolor saturated areas


Next, I used Shadows/ Highlights, a feature that’s sort of like Recover and Fill Light. I used it here because, after opening my image, I still wanted to enhance the shadows and highlights—which, if you think about it, are what a picture is all about when it comes to light.


As you can see in this screen grab, I opened up the shadows and toned down the highlights with the Shadows/ Highlights adjustment.


One of the very cool features in Photoshop (and Lightroom) is Lens Correction. In the close-up on the left, you can see what’s called a chromatic aberration—the magenta fringe where the dark areas in the picture meet the light areas. In the right close-up, it’s virtually gone. As you saw in the opening images, I cropped out this area of the frame. However, there was a slight chromatic aberration in the distance, where the water met the trees, so this was a good adjustment to make.


Reducing chromatic aberration was easy in Photoshop. I went to Filter > Lens Corrections > Custom Panel and moved the control on the Fix Green/Magenta Fringe all the way to the left.


As I mentioned, I originally liked the curved horizon line, but I changed my mind while I was working on my image. To level it, after Selecting All, I went to Edit > Transform > Warp. Then I pulled down on the top horizontal line until the horizon line was straight.

I was almost done! I used the Sponge tool, which is nested with the Burn and Dodge tool on the toolbar, to add some saturation to both rainbows.

Next, I cropped my image to draw more attention to the double rainbow. Then, because sharpening should always be the final adjustment, I sharpened the image using Unsharp Mask.


I like to play with plug-ins, so as an experiment, I played with different plug-ins to see how they would affect my picture. I tried the Midnight filter in Nik Color Efex Pro and liked it, as it changed the mood of the picture—to one with a softer feeling.

Rick Sammon, teaches Photoshop and Lightroom in his workshops. For information, visit

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