The Back Of The Catholic Club

I thought I'd write a tutorial about this particular image because it covers a lot of different techniques.

Take a look at the original and the finished. Big difference eh? 

I won't lie to you.... a LOT of work went into this image but, it's not complicated and if you follow along with me, you'll be able to do the same.

Let's make a start on how I did this.

First off, make a copy. I always do this as a matter of course. It's a habit that's well worth getting into because when you work on a copy, if you make mistakes, no major. Your original file is still intact. I then cropped it heavily to get rid of the extraneous stuff that didn't add anything to the picture.

As you can see, the wall on the right is blank brickwork. Boring.
I decided to make it a tad more interesting and decided to balance it up a bit by the inclusion of another door. Luckily, there was one on the left just waiting for me!!

I selected the marquee tool and entered a pixel count of 5. I wanted it to be quite a soft edge because I would later need to blend it into the brickwork and I find a soft edge works better and gives me a bit more leeway.

I drew a selection around the door then hit CTRL + C to copy the selection followed by CTRL & V in order to be able to move it about. Having done that I dragged the copied door over to the right and dropped it where I wanted it to be. I then selected the eraser tool and with the image at 100% gently set about erasing the edges of the copy until it blended in. I also got rid of the wires coming out of the top.

Where the bricks didn't line up, I 'nudged' them into alignment by tapping the UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT keys until it looked good.

So far so good but, it was just an exact copy of the original door and looked far too obvious that it was just that, a copy. I needed to lose some of the markings to make it look similar but not the same.

Back to the marquee tool again. I drew out a horizontal strip that encroached onto the brown frame work of the door and took in about four 'slats'. As before, I copied the selection, moved it up to cover the words 'no parking'. Soft eraser again to blend it in followed by a nudge where necessary.

Next thing I wanted to do was lose the stickers over the top of the door. This was done by using the Clone Stamp before and literally 'painting' them away.

I wanted then to put in the shadow. Trouble was, the real shadows were quite harsh and threw a hard edge underneath the security lamp.

What I did here was originally try the Clone tool but found that I was having a few problems with it so I went back to the Marquee tool, drew a selection of blank brickwork, positioned it close to the security lamp and gently erased away. It damped down the harshness of the original shadow just enough for me.

The warning sign was a bit pale so I threw a selection around it and ramped up the 'Levels' until it looked a bit more defined.

Shadow Work

Before I go on, I would at this point, like to express my thanks to Steve Somen who very graciously took the time to explain to me how to produce shadows in Photoshop and gave me a new appreciation for the power of light.

To put in the big shadow on the left hand side, I again used the Marquee tool (quelle surprise) and drew out a selection. I feathered it by about 8 pixels for a nice soft edge. That done, I then put it onto its own layer and filled it with Black. I then selected the Guassian filter and ramped it up to about 15px. As you do this, you can see the edges blurring even more.

I dropped the opacity to about 60% and hit CTRL & D to get rid of the 'marching ants' so I could see properly. I then played around with the opacity a bit more until I settled on the finished product you see here.

I hope you found that useful and easy to understand. Print it out and work some of your own images. If you get stuck, drop me a line.

The Tramp

In this Photoshop Tutorial I'm going to show you how I created this image.............

There is an assumption that you're familiar with the basics of Photoshop - Layers, layer masks, blend modes etc. If you're not, don't worry. Drop me a line and I'll drill down a bit deeper for you. I used Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS3 for this but these are just part of my particular workflow. You don't have to use them, just the principles, which will work with almost any software capable of making layers.

Today's image was taken at the Dicken's Festival in Rochester, Kent. Held annually, this festival is a celebration of the life and works of the writer Charles Dickens. Hundreds of people dress as characters from Dickens novels and other dress accordingly for the time period. It's a good opportunity to get a glimpse back in time. 

However, when taking pictures here you have to be careful with the details if you want authenticity. You'll often see someone dressed as Queen Victoria swinging a digital camera from a  wriststrap! Or,Fagin will be dancing around wearing RayBan sunglasses.

On the day, I shot with an eye to post processing these with an old-time feel...sepia, texture layering etc because the subject matter lent itself to this kind of look and I knew that this gave me a lot of leeway to work with. 

With any big festival there are always background distractions, people walking in the way, that kind of thing. There's not much you can do here but I knew I would be able to isolate many of the characters by the use of heavy cropping. I wasn't particularly worried too much about suffering a loss of detail either because applying an old time feel covers up a lot of image degradation.

I spotted this gentleman, dressed in shabby clothing, sitting on the ground and being passed food by an elegantly dressed woman. Unfortunately in the background were loads of plastic boxes which wouldn't have fitted in with the scene so I decided to hone in on him a bit tighter and lose the woman altogether.

Back home I loaded the days shoot into Lightroom 3 and went about evaluating the picks and dumps. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this one.

First off I made a virtual copy in Lightroom 3, converted it to black and white and exported it out to my desktop. Don't worry if you don't have Lightroom. It's not essential. Whatever program you have will let you make a copy and convert it to B&W.

I then brought it in to Photoshop CS3. I made a copy of it and applied a sharpening technique to it. I find myself using this technique more and more these days;

Goto Filter - other - high pass. This creates a layer which you can use to tweak the image later. I set the radius at about 9.8. There isn't an exact science to this so you have to move the slider until it feels and looks 'right'. It does look strange when you first see it....

I then changed the blending mode from 'Normal' to 'Hard Light'. This punched up the contrast but still retained some detail in the shadows. If you want to, you can dial down the opacity of the high pass layer but this will reduce the overall effect which you may not want to do. Instead, I created a layer mask on the high pass layer. I selected black as my brush colour, picked a soft brush and started to paint away areas that I didn't want want to be so sharp, or punchy. That done, I flattened the image. 

I made another copy, went to 'photo filter' on the layers pallete and applied the 'Sepia' filter at 70%. I always leave the 'Preserve Luminosity' checkbox ticked. I flattened the image again to leave me with this....

Time for texturing. I have a selection of texture images that I've picked up over the years and sorted out two or three black and white ones that I thought would best suit this image. I finally settled on one that I liked and with that, picked the 'move' tool and dragged the texture onto the main image. Because it was so small in 
comparison to the main image, I had to drag it out to completely cover the main. I did this by holding Shift and 'T' (Transformation) together. 

This put a series of handles around the texture image which I then used to 'drag' it out. Having done that, I then went to the blending mode and again selected 'Hard Light'. 

This looked OK but I dialled down the opacity to get to the final image you see here. 

It might sound a bit complicated but do it a few times and it becomes almost second nature.

When you've got a spare hour or so to kill or it's hammering down with rain and you don't feel like going out to take piccy's, go back through some of your old images and apply this technique and see how it revitalizes some of those pictures you thought were "nnnhhhh"