Sun & Tree  

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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 425
June 28, 2020 4:42 pm  

I typically don't create images with the sun in the frame and I typically don't post before & after images.  But just for fun I'll do it here!

Sun & Tree I182262 1

The image started out fairly ugly but had potential.

Sun & Tree Step 0

The first step was to get rid of all that snow on the lens.  Usually I do these repairs spot by spot but there were just too many of these things.  So I used the Photoshop Dust & Scratches filter at a fairly aggressive setting and then just used a soft brush to mask out the area where the tree was.  Only a couple places remained for spot repairs.

Sun & Tree Step 1

 

Most of the heavy lifting for this image is performed in two tonal adjustment layers using curves.  The first adjustment is quite aggressive and crashes out most of the foreground, leaving just a very faint ridge line to show that it's ground.  I wanted the tree to float but not totally float in mid air.  You can see the aggressive curve adjustment but also that I used Linear Light blend mode and applied it all gradually with a gradient so that only the bottom half of the frame is affected.  That blend mode and the gradient are really what makes this adjustment sing.  I dialed back the opacity to give the effect I wanted, which ended up being at 86% opacity.

Sun & Tree Step 2A

The second tonal adjustment creates a very slight brightening of the sky but protects the tree area with a gradient in order to give a some directionality there.

Sun & Tree Step 2B

Now it's time for color adjustments.  In this case there wasn't much color in the scene considering the aggressive adjustments prior.  I did think it needed some color.  So I used one of my favorite techniques which is colorizing using the Hue & Saturation layer in colorize mode.  I've made up a small library of colors that I apply whenever I need something that's not there.  The color is applied typically via a luminosity mask, but it could be brushed on if one had the skill.  The color for the trees was added using a Darks 3 luminosity mask which I then edited so it had a bit more contrast.

Sun & Tree Step 3A
Sun & Tree Step 3A Mask

The sky color was applied using a Lights 2 mask.

Sun & Tree Step 3B Mask
Sun & Tree Step 3B

The final adjustments apply a vignette and an additional sky adjustment.  The sky adjustment was an increase in color lightness using a Hue & Saturation layer applied to the top of the frame with a gradient. 

Sun & Tree Step 4A

Then the vignette was added by using the gradient overlay layer style.  I don't think it matters what the layer actually is since the layer style is doing the work.  I typically use a curves layer with no adjustments.  Sometimes I use a radial mask on that layer if I want to protect the center of the image from the vignette.

Sun & Tree Step 4B
Sun & Tree Step 4B Detail

The final step was add some noise (I think I used 3%) to smooth out some of the transitions caused by the aggressive editing.

That's all folks!

JM


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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 536
June 28, 2020 7:58 pm  

@jmotzi

Thanks for posting these steps.  The dust and scratches filter and the use of blending modes is something I am definitely going to try out.   I like the idea of toning using the Hue / Saturation tool.  


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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 536
June 28, 2020 10:53 pm  

@jmotzi

A question came to mind.  How do you approach consistent toning if you were to apply this technique to a series? 


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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 425
June 29, 2020 7:27 am  
Posted by: @uswitucha

A question came to mind.  How do you approach consistent toning if you were to apply this technique to a series? 

@uswitucha

For a series I use the same colors for each image in the series.  Use of the luminosity mask can differ for each image but I find that usually I am starting at the same point every time, which is Darks 3 for darkest tone, Mid 1 for the middles tones and Lights 3 for the lighter tones (spoken in the language of TK Masks.  It's been so long since I've constructed luminosity masks manually that I've forgotten the commands to get each of those).  I am not afraid to edit the contrast of those masks or block specific portions if necessary to get the effect I'm looking for.

For choice of color I typically use a complimentary or split complimentary scheme.  I now have a small library of colors that work well for me.

Consistency is exactly the reason I started using this.  I've found that this type of toning on a color image can help tie the series together - especially for sky color.  Typically I am using this technique for images that don't have a lot of color - for example snow or sand.  Sometimes I will use a B&W image and then render it in color using this technique.

Here is a good article which describes Hue & Saturation in colorized mode as a split toning technique:  

https://www.bwvision.com/advanced-split-toning-techniques/

It's a good place to start but I am not bound to the methodology as described.

Hope this helps!

JM


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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 536
June 29, 2020 8:25 am  

@jmotzi

I have used colour fill in the past but found the results flat and inconsistent across images.  Will take a look at the resource link.  Thanks for starting this conversation. 


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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 425
June 29, 2020 9:01 am  

@uswitucha

The right luminosity mask and using the opacity slider to dial the effect down both go a long way to making the effect successful.  Sometimes just a little effect is needed.


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