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Photoshop is (sorta) Fun...
One of the ways I make pictures look nicer is to edit them in Photoshop. Photoshop can be as sophisticated (and complicated!) as you want it to be, but if you just want to know a little bit about how to improve the image quality of your pictures, I've included a few examples here to show you something about how Photoshop can help improve a digital photograph or scan. You might want to make your browser's window as wide as possible when viewing this page, so that the pre- and post- photoshop images can be seen side by side for the sake of comparison.
Here's that same picture you saw earlier, in the photography tips pages. On the left is the unedited version - straight from the digital camera. This picture was taken "point and shoot" style - pretty ugly. Some of the problems, like the glare coming off the fingerboard and the hard shadows created by the flash aren't worth trying to fix - it's simply a part of the "look" of flash photography. So what the picture on the right represents are some of the typical things you could do in Photoshop that would help this image look a little better:
- adjust the color balance: add green to magenta to shadows, add a bit of red to midtones, add yellow to highlights.
- adjust the values (lights and darks) in using the Levels command. Overall the image just needed more contrast, especially from the highlights end. Compared to the picture on the right, the original picture looks a little "dim" by comparison and lacks a certain "snap".
- decreased the saturation of the colors (how intense the colors are) by using the saturation slider in the Hue/Saturation controls.
Some people might be able to tell the difference immediately, some not. It's not a huge difference, but all these adjustments add up to making the image on the right a little better to me.
The editing done to the photograph on the left is actually very similar to that in Example One, but the improved lighting of this photograph (no flash) produces a final result that is way more pleasing to me.
The all-black background appeals to some people but looks weird to others. Because the background is mostly black, it is relatively easy to select using the "magic wand" tool (which isn't so magic or magic-like to me - that thing is one of the hardest Photoshop tool to use effectively!). Then the value of this area is transformed to "jet black" using the Levels control panel. Doing this often creates a "hard edge" around the outside of the bass that's harsh and unnatural-looking, so then I'll carefully select the edge and then softened it with a Blur Filter, or use the blur tool to do the same thing. For this picture I didn't want to sharpen anything else - the controls, bridge, strings, and frets all look fine as is, and would probably start to look "jaggy" if I sharpened the entire image.
A lot of care should be taken when using Photoshop. It's easy to create an image that looks nice but no longer represents reality. For example, the flamed maple could easily be made to appear deeper, the bass could be made into a different color, etc. Instead, I try to use Photoshop to correct the problems and limitations of the unedited photograph. The image, as it comes directly from the camera, is often close but subtle manipulations of the image can usually bring the image to more closely represent the bass as it appears "in real life". A good camera is one that will produce a consistent image with lots of information in it - details in the shadows, details in the highlights, good differentiation between subtle shades of color. Once you have good information to start with, you can use Photoshop to help produce an accurate representation of visual reality.
Here's another before and after picture that shows (pretty dramatically i think) how big a difference photoshop can make in the quality of your photos:
that one on the left doesn't even look like the real-life bass! the black background was done by selecting everything but the bass with the "path" tool in photoshop. after it was selected, i just hit the delete button and *poof* - the dolphin is launched into space.
This example is Mark's amazing green "covergirl" MTD 5 string (yup - the same Mark from the message board), and was downloaded from the net. As you can see this one needed some work in Photoshop - primarily because the unedited image (left) looks way too "washed out" to me. The first thing I did was to use the Adjust Levels command to fix this contrast problem. I use the adjust levels command basically to tell the computer to make the blacks black, the whites white, and also where to place the "middle values". This is accomplished by sliding around the little trianglular controls on the graphical interface. Next I adjusted the color balance. Then I used the Adjust Hue/Sturation controls to reduce the saturation a little bit. Much better, I think.
Click here to see a couple
example of "more advanced" techniques...
or click here to go back to the Photo Tips page...