Double processing

With yesterday’s photo I mentioned that I used double processing, where I edited the photo twice and then blended the results. And I thought I show more about that. So today I will show you how exactly I edited that photo. So here goes.

First since it is a panorama I combined the shots together in Lightroom. As you can see the result, the photo is a bit bland. That normal, as it’s an undeveloped RAW file. They tend to be quite bland.

Double processing

I started with the first edit. Changed the white balance to make a more warmer photo, opened the shadows, darkened the highlights and added more vibrance. As you can see, the result was already quite nice. But since the lighthouse is white, the tweaks to highlights and shadows made it look dirty and too dark.

Double processing

So here where the second edit comes in. First I exported this one into Photoshop of course. For the second one I focused only on how the lighthouse looks. I removed the highlights and shadow tweaks, and I added exposure until the lighthouse was as bright I as I wanted it to be. As you can see this edit is really overexposed in most areas, but that’s not a problem as it will be blended into the first one.

Double processing

So when I had both, I opened both in layers, hidden the brighter one, used the want tool to select the sky, inverted the selection and painted over the lighthouse. Then I finished it with tweaking the opacity of the second layer, so it nicely matches the background.

Double processing

You can see the resulting photo in this post.

And that’s it :) You can do as many edits of a photo you want and then just blend them like this afterwards. In HDR this is used when doing a single RAW HDR, when you create multiple version of the same photo by under and over exposing it, so creating the other brackets needed. But that a quite ineffective approach. Rather edit the shot by focusing on the result you already want, but in just a selection of it.

Selective edits in Color Efex

Color Efex is still one of the best photo editing plugins you can get for Photoshop, and with the recent DxO update, we hopefully will also get new features in it soon. But what I noticed is, that many times it’s filters are being used on the whole photo, where it’s very easy to be much more selective and use the filters only when there are needed. And you don’t have to do it with Photoshop with layers, but right inside Color Efex. So let’s have a look at it today.

Control Points

Each time you add a filter, you will see the control points under the filter settings. There are two options, + or -. You choose the one you want, and place it where you want it. If you choose the plus one, the filter opacity will be changed to 0% and only affect where the control point is. If you add a minus one, the filter opacity will be set to 100% and it will be removed where the control point selects.

On each control point you can change it’s size and opacity of filter. You will notice, it does not effect the whole selected area the same. This is because it works differently. It samples the area under the center point of the selection and then only affects all similar areas inside the selection. This works similarly as the wand selection in Photoshop.

Selective edits in Color Efex

If you click on the little triangle next to the Control points text, few more options will open. First you will see all the applied control points and you can turn them on and off. You see what size of the filter they apply, and if you click on the little square next to that, you will see the selection they effect.

There is also an opacity slider. This is the opacity of the filter effect overall, on spots that have no control points. The plus and minus actually adds or subtracts from this opacity. It’s actually easier to use just plus or minus, not both at the same time. Makes it less confusing. Just set the overall photo you want, and then just remove where it is too much. I do it that most of the time.

Selective edits in Color Efex

You can add multiple points quickly, just by holding down the Alt key and dragging a point. That will duplicate it with all it’s settings. You can also group points, that when you modify the fist one, all are changed.

When to use them?

There are many cases when to use this functionality. For instance, you want to use the polarization filter but it adds color to more things than the sky. Just use it, and then add the plus control points on the sky only. Like this that will limit the effect.

Or you want to add a lot of local contrast to one area, but not to other. Like in this photo of fireworks, I wanted more detail in them, but nothing else. So I used tonal contrast filter with high settings and using a plus point, I added it only on the fireworks.

Selective edits in Color Efex

There are many other situations, and I think you will find them yourself quite quickly. Btw. in the screenshots you can see which filters I set to be in my Favorites, that means I use them the most :)

Perspective correction in Photoshop

There are situations when you just cant avoid perspective distortion. Like the one in the photo I will use in today’s guide. I was standing really close to the bridge where the fireworks were. Even with a crazy wide lens, I still would not be able to catch most of them, if I did not tilt my camera up.

So now I have perspective distortion, how to fix it? Lightroom, Photoshop and many other tools offer perspective correction, but I like to do it manually. The reason for that is, that most of them will keep the original aspect of the photo when correcting and so they crop off a lot of the photo. I prefer to keep as much of the photo as I can.

So let’s have a look how I do the perspective correction on one of my recent photos.

Perspective correction workflow

1. Let’s first look at the starting photo. You can easily see on the bridge, how distorted it is. The top is completely falling inwards. So it has be opened in Photoshop, and we can start working on it. Don’t forget to properly level the photo first, I it’s crooked you will not be able to correct the perspective properly.
2. First, I always duplicate the layer, and work on a copy. To duplicate, just right click on the layer and select duplicate. Then, choose the crop tool, and expand the photo, so there is space to work in. You don’t need to expand down, but you can.

3. Now select the layer you created, and select Edit/Free Transform (or just hit Ctrl+T). Now the image will have a border around it. We need to go into perspective edit, so right click anywhere within it, and choose perspective.
4. Now click and hold on the right top corner and start pulling it to the right. Hold down Shift so it stays in line with the original position. You will see how the opposite corner also moves out. Do this until the lines that should be vertical in the photo, are vertical. In this case, this would be the pillars of the bridge.

5. Now you will notice, that while the perspective is corrected, the whole image now looks like squished. We still have to correct that. So again, right click anywhere withing the image, and choose scale. Click on the middle top point and drag it up. If you have the latest version of Photoshop, hold down Shift, so it’s a non-uniform scale. In the older ones, you don’t have to.
6. Pull it up until the proportions look correct. You may have to switch back to perspective and correct the corners again, since the scaling can introduce some distortions again.

7. Once done, just crop the image to the proportions you want. You may leave some of the corners in, and then fix them later. I did a guide on that some time ago and can be found here.

And this is the final photo after all the corrections and edits.

The tilt-shift lens became my favorite lens almost immediately after I bought it, so today I will share with you how to use one. There are two main functions, the tilt and the shift, today we will look at the shift one.

What is shifting?

Shifting is moving the front of the lens up/down or left/right, without moving the camera. Like this you can completely change what the camera sees, without needing to move it all. Lets look at an example here. These four shots have been done from the same spot, with just shifting the lens.

As you can see, shifting a lens moves what you see by about 40% of the photo. There is a bit of distortion, but much less than if you moved the camera.

Correcting perspective distortion

The main use of shifting is to get rid of perspective distortion. You probably had a situation when you were trying to take a photo of something taller and you had to tilt you camera up to get it whole into the frame. The result of this is of course that all the vertical lines in the photo will start to fall towards the center, the more you tilt you camera.

Here you see an illustration of this. First tilting. As you can see, the field of view changes, to what you need, but a lot of perspective distortion is introduced with it.

Now lets looks how it is with the tilt-shift lens. When you shift, the field of view changes, but the camera stays leveled. Like this, no perspective distortion is introduced into the photo, and all verticals stay in a right angle with the horizon.

Since you are shifting instead of tilting, you can take photos of taller structures without any distortions, and also take shots while being much closer to the object.

Here is a photo with a normal lens tilted up, and with the tilt shift lens.


Another situation where perspective distortion can cause problems, is when you are taking panoramas or vertoramas. Each time you rotate or tilt the camera, you are introducing distortions, which makes the combining more difficult. with a tilt shift you can take all the shots without ever moving the camera. Lets looks fist at a panoramaic example:

Here I took two photos, one shifted left, one shifted right. These then perfectly fitted together when aligned. Or here is a vertorama example. Again taking the photos while shifting up to get the whole scene.

Moving the camera location

The last thing that it’s really useful for, is a way of moving the camera position, without moving the camera itself. What I mean by this is, that when you shift the lens, it looks like to moved the whole camera.

Let’s imagine a situation, where you stand on the edge of something and you just can’t move the camera further out. What to do now, when you want the view to be from there? You shit the lens, so getting the view from further out that you can move to. Same when you standing on top of something, and you would want the view to be even from higher up and similar.

This lens give you views that normally would not be possible at all.

That’s all about the shift function of this lens, next time I will take a look at the tilt function.

Multiple exposures

I almost always take multiple exposures for all my photos, using the AEB function of my camera. Even if I don’t have to. There are reasons to do it. But there are reasons also for not doing it. And today, I will try to take a look at reasons for doing so, and also for the ones against it. So here goes.

Why and when to take multiple exposures

High dynamic range
Of course the first and the biggest reason to do multiple exposures is to catch the whole dynamic range of a scene. Even the best camera can’t capture everything in one photo. You will need to blend images if you want to avoid overexposed or underexposed areas.
Better safe than sorry
Even if you think that the dynamic range is not too big and you will get everything from one photos, you can be mistaken. It’s better to have the extra exposures and don’t need them, that not having them and needing them.
Automatic backup
Anything can happen when you are taking photos. Even a tiny movement of the camera can destroy the image. When you ave multiple exposures, you easily can get around this just by using other exposures. If you took 3 and one is bad, you still have two that you can work with and so on.
Removing people from photos
Since you easily can under or over-expose a photo by one to two stops, you can use the extra exposures to remove moving objects or people from the final photos (more on this here). The same goes for other moving things. For instance, if there was wind and the leaves are blurred in the shot. You can take a faster exposure, like -2EV one, overexpose it to match the exposure you want, and then just blend it in. Since for that one the exposure time was shorter, the leaves will be more stable in it.

Why and when to take multiple exposures

Why and when not to take multiple exposures

Files take more space
The most obvious reason, you will get more photos. The file don’t take that much space at first, but over time it stacks up. I know this best from personal experience :)
Takes more time
It takes more time to take multiple exposures. Especially in the evening, when you photos get into the 10-30s range, you will get to the point when taking just one photo takes up to few minutes. If you light is changing fast, and you have only few minutes to take you photos, this can be a problem.
You are taking photos handheld
Some do multiple exposures when taking photos handheld. I don’t bother anymore. Even in the brightest of sunlight you are just not able to hold the camera steady enough. You will not be able to blend the shots perfectly. Rather than this, underexpose the photo a bit. You will always be able to better correct underexposed areas than overexposed ares afterwards.
Taking photos of moving subjects
Again, if you are taking photos of moving subjects, just take one shots. You will not be able to blend the shots anyway. A good example here is fireworks. They change so quickly, you can get only one photo. But remember, if you did not move you camera, you can still take a multiple exposures of the scene afterwards, and just blend the moving subject into them later.

Why and when to take multiple exposures
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