Perking up pictures with Photoshop

I’m spending more time on the blog and playing around a little bit with Photoshop. It’s one of those skills that requires a lot of repetition and it’s easier for me to learn how to use this software by concentrating on one aspect of the product at a time, picking a couple of photos to improve and seeing what adjustments I can make.

I’m posting this now because I will be putting up a slide show from Plitvice (Plit-VEET-sa) National Park in Croatia and most of the photos required a brightness/contrast adjustment at minimum because it was such a hazy (polluted?) day. Truth in blogging!

The first tool I puttered around with was Brightness and Contrast. This helped to blow away haze and gauzy shadows. Here, for example, the haze is diminished on a photo from a trip in 2010. The shadows are deeper but the pond still retains its smooth-as-glass placidity and the reflections in the water are more noticeable. I’m sure these effects could be achieved with a digital SLR camera and maybe a filter but I don’t spend that much time composing or waiting for a shot and I’ll be in a nursing home before I can learn all that stuff. Besides, cameras are smartening up faster than my brain ever will. I’m probably behind the newest technology already. Oh well …

summer morning in the French countryside

summer morning in the French countryside

summer morning photo cleared up with Photoshop

summer morning photo cleared up with Photoshop

Of course, leaving this particular alone would convey the sense of early morning heat and mugginess but the new photo matches the way the morning felt to me.

This week, I began to fiddle with a feature that allows me to replace a washed out sky with a more vibrant one. This, plus a little contrast adjustment, makes the shot look more the way it would had I been there on a sunny day. Not every snap needing a new sky will get one, but as I built the slide show, the repetition of one pale sky after another bothered me with its boringness. Once the sky is bluer, the contrast adjustment produces better results.

Here’s one I adjusted. The original photo looks like there was frost on the ground or even a monotone shot and I’m definitely not a fan of monochrome –

Plitvice National Park - as is

Plitvice National Park – as is

Plitvice National Park - brighter and with a new sky

Plitvice National Park – brighter and with a new sky

Actually, I wasn’t so aware of the haze when I was there. Replacing sky can be tricky – it appears there are different clouds in the lake than in the new sky. Oopsy. That can be remedied as well but the Photoshop tools for that are more labor intensive. One trick at a time!

There are all sorts of components in Photoshop Elements to turn a picture into something more removed from reality, more “artistic”. I’m not interested in that sort of manipulation; not for the blog, at least. There are some pictures that could benefit from a telephone wire being removed; the difficulty there depends on the individual shot and I’m not happy with my ability on that score just yet.

This entry was posted in All Suzanne's travel essays, Croatia travel, France, News from Europe and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Perking up pictures with Photoshop

  1. lanceleuven says:

    Photoshop is indeed an astonishing piece of software. It’s one of those things whose potential appears to be limitless. Although, much like yourself, most of my use is simply to sharpen up he odd image. Your examples demonstrate what dramatic results can be achieved with only a little tweaking. The trick/skill is to know when to stop so as to avoid venturing into the unreal!

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