Category Archives: Photoshop Techniques

A Rorschach for MFA’s

This image, with the working title Gates after Rodin, shows one model many times. The model, Jacs Fishburne, is a self-described “tornado disguised as a woman.” In the studio, Jacs was posing on a large metal hoop, sometimes called a Lyra. The Lyra was suspended by two ropes about six feet above the ground, with a black background. For some of the exposures Jacs was kneeling on the ground “holding up” the Lyra.

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

To make the image, I shot five in-camera multiple exposures, with Autogain turned on so that each multiple exposure was properly calibrated. Each of the multiple exposures consisted of five to eight individual shots, with Jacs changing her pose between each one. I used basic studio lighting for an even, consistent look and my D800 with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.

I then combined the in-camera multiple exposures in Photoshop, using both stacking and selectively pasting bits from various versions in using layers and masking. By some ways of counting, this makes for a total of somewhere between 25 and 40 different captures of Jacs, when you multiply the number of files by the number of times she appears in each.

Before finishing the image by adding a texture, I retouched out the ropes from above holding the Lyra, leaving the circular Lyra mostly in place.

A friend writes: “It brings up associations with five or six classic paintings from earlier eras. I see the Winged Victory of Samothrace on the left, and the hand of the Sphinx on the center right. Cardinal Richelieu is in the center. The face in profile at the upper left comes from something I can’t quite place and the depictions of hell by the famous Dutch painter What’s-His-Name are at the bottom [Hieronymus Bosch]. And then there’s the hint of the sumi-e circle of light again [the Lyra]. It’s like a Rorschach for MFA’s! ”

My own association is with Rodin’s Gates of Hell. I saw a casting in the garden at the Rodin Museum in Paris this spring. Maybe the memory of the Gates was lurking in my subconscious, waiting for a chance to emerge!

Related story: Multiple Exposures.

Creative Photoshop Fun Day

Registration and information for the Creative Photoshop Fun Day with Harold Davis (Saturday, September 13, 2014)

I often get asked about my Photoshop techniques in the course of a workshop. In a general workshop that involves photography there just isn’t enough time to cover the vast multitude of creative Photoshop techniques that you can use in depth. This workshop will provide a one-time opportunity to do that exploration of Photoshop: both as a creative medium, and as an artistic partner with digital photography.

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

I will also work with each participant to develop their personal Photoshop style and to process one or more of their own images using the techniques demonstrated in this workshop.

Let’s spend a fun day together playing in Photoshop! We’ll work with layers, masking, textures, backgrounds, selections, filters, LAB color, and more. There will be time for image review, and for helping participants with individual creative projects.

The focus will be on creating an individual Photoshop workflow that is fun and that energizes. Take your Photoshop creativity to the next level!

Church at Auvers © Harold Davis

Van Gogh’s church at Auvers-sur-Oise © Harold Davis

Registration: http://www.meetup.com/Harold-Davis/events/186153022/

Prerequisites:  Participants are expected to know how to use their computers and to have (at a minimum) a basic knowledge of Photoshop. Please contact us with any questions about whether you have the appropriate background for this workshop.

Davis- The Way of the Digital PhotographerSuggested advance reading/viewing: The Way of the Digital Photographer and the Harold Davis Photoshop webinar recordings.

What to bring: Please bring a laptop with Photoshop installed and some of your images that you would like to work on. The following software is also suggested (but not required): the Nik Collection, Topaz Adjust and Topaz Simplify.

When: Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 9AM to 6PM, with an hour break for lunch.

Where: The workshop is hosted in Berkeley, California, in a convenient location near the upscale Fourth Street shopping district and close to the University Avenue exit from I80.

Tuition: $295 per person. Workshop is limited to a maximum of 16 participants.

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Duos and Redos

The first duo (and redo) is another in-camera multiple exposure in the series with Solace for the Wild Rest and Being and Becoming. With Earthbound Angels (below),  I also added a white, transparent scarf as an image element when making the choreographed exposures, creating the wing-like effects. Check out the three Multiple Exposures here!

Earthbound Angels © Harold Davis

Earthbound Angels © Harold Davis

The second image, Dance (below), is an iPhone reworking of Models via the Plastic Bullet and Waterlogue iPhone apps.

Dance © Harold Davis

Dance © Harold Davis

Doing something once can be a great deal of fun, but redoing it can redouble one’s pleasure. I’m having great fun with these abstractions—particularly the multiple exposures—and I’ve heard them likened to Botacelli’s La Primavera, Picasso paintings (specifically Les Demoiselles d’Avignon) and Georgia O’Keeffe skulls.

Maybe, maybe not. But I like doing something in-camera for once, and having people think it is Photoshop. Go figure, I say who cares how an image was created if it is good, but this false dichotomy of photography versus Photoshop seems to be a very emotional issue for some people. I guess the world will always have its big-enders versus little-enders because a bone to quarrel over is easier than actually becoming creative.

New Webinar Sessions with Harold Davis

Please consider one of our upcoming live webinar offerings. Each costs $29.95, has very limited seat availability, and includes access to the webinar recording following the session (a $19.95 value). Details regarding each webinar follow below.

Using Backgrounds and Textures (Second Session, Thursday June 5 at 7PM PT)

Selective Sharpening with LAB Color  (Second Session, Sunday June 8 at 3PM PT)

Creative Use of LAB Color (World Premier, Saturday July 26 at 3PM PT)

For more information about the webinar format as a way to learn about photography and Photoshop, check out our FAQ, About Harold Davis Webinar Recordings.

 

Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis

01-title

Second Session: Thursday June 5, 2014 at 7PM PT. Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Have you ever wanted to turn your photos into fine art design pieces? With a little bit of Photoshop know-how, a few inexpensive tools, and the techniques explained in this webinar, it’s easy to create unique art imagery, guided by your vision and creativity.

Placing a photo on a background creates an image that looks like a botanical illustration. Adding a texture to a photo is can be used for an impressionistic and/or painterly effect.

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “The two primary techniques that I use to turn straightforward photos into art are to add a photo to a background, and to add a texture to photos. These two techniques have a very visual different impact, and can be particularly effective with my botanical art.”

It’s easy to add a whole set of techniques to your creative use of Photoshop! In this webinar recording, Harold Davis explains how you can use the power of backgrounds and textures in your own work. The Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis webinar explains:

  • Creative use of backgrounds and textures
  • The difference between a background and a texture
  • Making your own backgrounds
  • Making your own textures
  • Commercial libraries
  • How to apply an image to a background
  • Using textures and blending modes
  • Backgrounds and textures in botannicals
  • Using textures with people photography
  • Enhancing landscape photos with artistic effects
  • What to do, what not to do, and examples

Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

 

Selective Sharpening in LAB Color with Harold Davis

Selective Sharpening

Second Session: Sunday June 8, 2014 at 3PM PT. Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Have you ever over-sharpened an image? (We all have!) Have you ever wanted to to sharpen just one thing in a photo, not the entire image?

If you answer “Yes!” to either of these questions, then this webinar recording is for you!

The internal structure of LAB color makes it ideal for attractive sharpening (without over-sharpening) in Photoshop. This is because you can work on the luminance information, avoiding the unattractive results that can happen when color data is sharpened.

This webinar recording shows how to use the properties of LAB color to selectively sharpen images for aesthetic effect, and teaches you a technique that should be in the toolkit of every photographer who uses Photoshop.

Master photographer and bestselling author Harold Davis says, “I use selective sharpening with LAB color to enhance almost all of my photos.” Sharpening with LAB is one of the true secrets of the masters.

The Selective Sharpening with LAB Color with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Different kinds of sharpening
  • Using selective sharpening for artistic emphasis
  • LAB color theory and relative gamut
  • Understanding the color opponent model
  • Converting to LAB in Photoshop
  • Choosing the L-channel in Photoshop
  • Using the Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Selectively painting in sharp areas
  • Converting back to RGB

Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

 

Creative Use of LAB Color with Harold Davis

01-title-LABWorld Premier: Saturday July 26, 2014 at 3PM PT. Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Understanding the creative use of LAB color in Photoshop unlocks a vast treasure trove of under-utilized and under-explored possibilities.

This webinar explains the structure of LAB color, and demonstrates inversions and LAB equalizations for both image optimization and creative fun. You will learn how to combine Blending Modes with LAB equalizations for an unlimited and powerful palette.

 

LAB color underlies the color math of Photoshop, and once you discover how to work creatively with LAB your work (and life!) will never be the same!

The Creative Use of LAB Color with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Understanding LAB Color
  • LAB Color in Photoshop
  • LAB Channel Inversions
  • LAB Channel Equalizations
  • Combining adjustments with blending modes
  • Creative LAB in a workflow
  • Examples and case studies

Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Painting in Transparency Webinar Recording Available

Click here for unlimited access to the Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar Recording (the cost is $19.95).

01-titleAre you intrigued by transparent flower photos? Ever wanted to know how to make them? Well, here’s your chance!

With photography on a light box, once you photograph a bracketed high-key exposure sequence, then the the next step is to assemble a layer stack. As you build your layer stack, successively darker layers are masked and painted in to create the illusion of transparency. The results surprise and delight!

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “My transparent botanical art has been greatly acclaimed and emulated. Flowers can create the most beautiful compositions. Photographers who are interested in photographing flowers should give this technique a try. Certainly, one of the most sensitive parts of the process is painting in the high-key layer stack.”

Learn this exciting technique from its creator!  This webinar is chock full of inspirational examples and have ample time for Q & A

The Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis covers:

  • Photographing a bracketed high-key sequence on a light box
  • Workflow considerations and options
  • Multi-RAW processing layers as needed
  • Creating the layer stack in Photoshop
  • Adding a layer mask
  • Using the Brush Tool
  • Using the Gradient Tool
  • Next steps after the layer stack has been created

Click here to register for unlimited access to the webinar recording today for only $19.95.

Note: Now that we have solved the gremlins that plagued the video in our early webinars, we are opening second sessions of the early courses. If you register for each live sessions ($29.95) you also get access to the associated recording, which otherwise will be available after the session for $19.95.

Register by clicking here for Using Backgrounds and Textures—Second Session with Harold Davis (Thursday June 5 at 7PM PT).

Register by clicking here for Selective Sharpening with LAB Color—Second Session with Harold Davis (Sunday June 8 at 3PM PT).

Being and Becoming

To make this image, I started by photographing the beautiful models Kira and Merrique together on a black seamless background with studio strobe lighting. The lighting was set up with a big, soft light on the left, and a smaller, less powerful light through an umbrella on the right.

Being and Becoming © Harold Davis

Being and Becoming © Harold Davis

I made ten in-camera multiple exposures. Each multiple exposure consisted of either five or eight individual exposures. I had auto-gain turned on in my camera, so each multiple exposure was automatically adjusted to compensate for the number of exposures in the sequence. I counted out each individual exposure, and the models paused on each shot.

In Photoshop, I stacked the ten multiple exposures (as if they were star trails!).  I tweaked the result a little to get rid of anomalies, like fingernails appearing in mid-air, but mostly this image comes from an “out of the box” in-camera multiple exposures followed by stacking in Photoshop to create a composite.

That makes Being and Becoming a combination of old and new techniques, one of my favorite themes in photography. In-camera multiple exposures are about as old as photography, but the ability to create stacked composites over time is an artifact of the Photoshop era.

Overlooking the Dordogne River

I got to talking about photography with the couple who ran the B&B where I was staying in the ancient monastery town of Cadouin, France, and they suggested I check out a spot overlooking the Dordogne River a little way above the old riverside village of Tremolat. There was a little path from the parking area leading to the cliffs overlooking a bend in the river. By the time I got there rain was moving in, and the sky to the southwest was diffuse and soft, while the clouds to the the northeast were dark and ominous over the village of Lumeuil and the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere Rivers.

Bend in the River - Dordogne in Black & White © Harold Davis

Bend in the River – Dordogne in Black & White © Harold Davis

I ignored the oncoming weather, and mounted my camera on the tripod. Looking left, straight ahead, and right and shot bracketed sequences of exposures for later HDR processing. I did my best to take my time and shoot following a proper and patient protocol despite the raindrops falling on my gear.

Bend in the River - Dordogne © Harold Davis

Bend in the River – Dordogne © Harold Davis

Combining the three images into a panorama meant first combining the exposure sequences, then using Photoshop’s Photomerge capabilities. You’ll find Photomerge in Photoshop on the File > Automate menu. After a bit of experimenting, I found the the Reposition layout setting with the Blend Images Together option checked worked best. There’s always a bit of manual retouching after blending images together using Photomerge, and this set of images was no exception, but generally the Photoshop automation got me about 95% of the way!

The final image is really quite high resolution, about 50 inches wide at 300 ppi without any enlargement (the file size is about 450 megabytes). It’s hard to see in an online version the level of detail this implies in some image areas, but you would see this detail if you were looking at a good print. You can begin to see the resolution in larger versions that will fit on the horizontally-oriented pages of my blog, click here to see a larger size black and white version, or here for the color version.

Speaking of black and white versus color, which version do you prefer?

Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis

Are you intrigued by transparent flower photos? Ever wanted to know how to make them? Well, here’s your chance!

With photography on a light box, once you photograph a bracketed high-key exposure sequence, then the the next step is to assemble a layer stack. As you build your layer stack, successively darker layers are masked and painted in to create the illusion of transparency. The results surprise and delight!

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “My transparent botanical art has been greatly acclaimed and emulated. Flowers can create the most beautiful compositions. Photographers who are interested in photographing flowers should give this technique a try. Certainly, one of the most sensitive parts of the process is painting in the high-key layer stack.”

Learn this exciting technique from its creator!  This webinar will be full of examples and have ample time for Q & A. Register for Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis today (details below).

Special Tulips © Harold Davis

Special Tulips © Harold Davis

The Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis covers:

  • Photographing a bracketed high-key sequence on a light box
  • Workflow considerations and options
  • Multi-RAW processing layers as needed
  • Creating the layer stack in Photoshop
  • Adding a layer mask
  • Using the Brush Tool
  • Using the Gradient Tool
  • Next steps after the layer stack has been created

When:   The live webinar session will take place on Saturday, May 31, 2014, starting at 3PM PT. The webinar is scheduled for one hour, with additional time for Q&A. The session will be recorded, and you can review the recording at your convenience.

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Where:   At your computer, anywhere.

Cost:  The registration fee for the live webinar is $29.95. This includes access to the recording of the webinar session. The cost for access to the webinar recording alone (this will be available after the session) is $19.95.

Registration: Registration for the Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis is limited to 20 participants. Click here to register for the webinar. Seats are very limited, so register now to avoid disappointment.

Anemones 1 © Harold Davis

Anemones 1 © Harold Davis

Related webinars:

Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis Webinar

Have you ever wanted to turn your photos into fine art design pieces? With a little bit of Photoshop know-how, a few inexpensive tools, and the techniques explained in this webinar, it’s easy to create unique art imagery, guided by your vision and creativity.

Placing a photo on a background creates an image that looks like a botanical illustration. Adding a texture to a photo is can be used for an impressionistic and/or painterly effect.

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “The two primary techniques that I use to turn straightforward photos into art are to add a photo to a background, and to add a texture to photos. These two techniques have a very visual different impact, and can be particularly effective with my botanical art.”

It’s easy to add a whole set of techniques to your creative use of Photoshop! Register for Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis today (details below).

Flowers of Late Summer © Harold Davis

Flowers of Late Summer © Harold Davis

The Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Creative use of backgrounds and textures
  • The difference between a background and a texture
  • Making your own backgrounds
  • Making your own textures
  • Commercial libraries
  • How to apply an image to a background
  • Using textures and blending modes
  • Backgrounds and textures in botannicals
  • Using textures with people photography
  • Enhancing landscape photos with artistic effects
  • What to do, what not to do, and examples

When:   The live webinar session will take place on Thursday, May 29, 2014, starting at 7PM PT. The webinar is scheduled for one hour, with additional time for Q&A. The session will be recorded, and you can review the recording at your convenience.

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Where:   At your computer, anywhere.

Cost:  The registration fee for the live webinar is $29.95. This includes access to the recording of the webinar session. The cost for access to the webinar recording alone (this will be available after the session) is $19.95.

Registration: Registration for the Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis is limited to 20 participants. Click here to register for the webinar. Seats are very limited, so register now to avoid disappointment.

Venice of Cuba © Harold Davis

Venice of Cuba © Harold Davis

The landscape in Venice of Cuba (shown above) was enhanced with the addition of a canvas-based texture, creating a work of art with a painterly ambiance.

Kelly © Harold Davis

Kelly © Harold Davis

The photo of the model Kelly (shown above) was first placed on a background, then treated with a texture overlay.

Related webinars:

Selective Sharpening with LAB Color Webinar

Have you ever over-sharpened an image? (We all have!) Have you ever wanted to to sharpen just one thing in a photo, not the entire image?

If you answer “Yes!” to either of these questions, then this webinar is for you!

The internal structure of LAB color makes it ideal for attractive sharpening (without over-sharpening) in Photoshop. This is because you can work on the luminance information, avoiding the unattractive results that can happen when color data is sharpened.

This webinar shows how to use the properties of LAB color to selectively sharpen images for aesthetic effect, and teaches you a technique that should be in the toolkit of every photographer who uses Photoshop. Click here to register for the webinar.

Master photographer and bestselling author Harold Davis says, “I use selective sharpening with LAB color to enhance almost all of my photos.” Sharpening with LAB is one of the true secrets of the masters.

The Selective Sharpening with LAB Color with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Different kinds of sharpening
  • Using selective sharpening for artistic emphasis
  • LAB color theory and relative gamut
  • Understanding the color opponent model
  • Converting to LAB in Photoshop
  • Choosing the L-channel in Photoshop
  • Using the Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Selectively painting in sharp areas
  • Converting back to RGB

When:   The live webinar session will take place on Saturday, May 24, 2014, starting at 3PM PT. The webinar is scheduled for one hour, with additional time for Q&A. The session will be recorded, and you can review the recording at your convenience.

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Where:   At your computer, anywhere.

Cost:  The registration fee for the live webinar is $29.95. This includes access to the recording of the webinar session. The cost for access to the webinar recording alone (this will be available after the session) is $19.95.

Registration: Registration for the Selective Sharpening with LAB Color with Harold Davis is limited to 20 participants. Click here to register for the webinar. Seats are very limited, so register now to avoid disappointment.

Nature's Palette © Harold Davis

Nature’s Palette © Harold Davis

To emphasize the distinction between the flower core and the petals in Nature’s Palette (shown above) I used LAB color and masking to selectively sharpen the flower centers. This is a relatively subtle technique, in the sense that the viewer is not necessarily aware that I have increased the “sharpness differential” between the two types of subject matter.

Related webinars:

Rose after Delauney and O’Keeffe

At a recent lunch with my brother he reminded me how we both benefited from a classical education in the arts when we were young. I may not have got much of this stuff via formal education, but I sure was exposed to every layer of visual art history as a child thanks to my parents. Mostly, by seeing the stuff in person—from the paintings on the walls of the Caves of Lascaux to the museums with the “moderns” and everything in between.

To quote the dearly beloved and recently deceased Pete Seeger on the difference between education and experience, “Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

I’m not sure how this fits with being dragged through every museum imaginable as a wayward kid—probably more in the experience category—but even as a bored child it was hard not to fall hard for the impressionists at first encounter.

Rose after Delauney and O'Keeffe © Harold Davis

Rose after Delauney and O’Keeffe © Harold Davis

Anyhow, this wasn’t what I had in mind when I went to work on the photo of the pale rose (far below), but I do know enough to recognize the palette and patterns of the great geometric painter Sonia Delauney along with the sensuousness of a Georgia O’Keeffe floral—when they pop out at me in an image I’ve created.

You’ll note that the original image is rotated 90 degrees. The other effects come from a series of LAB adjustments—inversions and equalizations—applied using a variety of blending modes.

Within each rose © Harold Davis

Within each rose © Harold Davis

For a couple of other examples of this kind of thing, check out Mandalas from a Glass Bowl, Broken Arrow and Creating LAB Patterns, and also see my article on Photo.net, Using LAB Color Adjustments.

Meanwhile, I must report that there is a certain goodwill towards the world that comes about from consorting with one’s fraternal sibling when both brothers are “of a certain age” with receding hairlines and cares and children of their own, and fondly reminiscing about some of the unique aspects of our culturally rich—and radically eclectic (or maybe eclectically radical)—upbringing.

Mandalas from a Crystal Bowl

Wandering the crowded aisles of Berkeley’s Urban Ore—a somewhat dodgy cross between an upscale junkyard and a down-at-the-heels flea market with an added smidgen of green ideology—with my camera and Otus, I came across a beautiful cut crystal bowl in a locked cabinet. It was love at first sight. Finding the person with the key to unlock the cabinet and negotiating the price took a bit of time, but soon enough Otus and I were making our way home to photograph our new treasure.

Crystal Mandala 1 © Harold Davis

Crystal Mandala 1 © Harold Davis

I photographed my crystal bowl straight down using a light box and a bracketed high-key sequence of exposures. This is the technique I developed to capture flowers for transparency (actually, for translucency), and as I note in my presentation on the subject the technique produces interesting results with many subjects in addition to flowers. In this case, the high key HDR approach emphasized the contrast between the edge lines of the bowl and the negative spaces created by the transparent glass.

Crystal Mandala 2 © Harold Davis

Crystal Mandala 2 © Harold Davis

My next step playing in Photoshop was to invert the essentially monochromatic image, transforming black lines on a white background to black lines on a white background. It’s hard to get me going on this kind of thing without wanting to play in Photoshop, so I started using LAB adjustmentsHow do you make a mandala from a crystal bowl?

Red Crystal Mandala © Harold Davis

Red Crystal Mandala © Harold Davis

In this case, in addition to LAB inversions and equalizations, I used Nik Color Efex filters, direct painting on layers, layers, layer masks, and repeated application of some of the oddball blending modes such as Difference. Play around long enough in Photoshop and you never know what you will find!

Holographic Mandala © Harold Davis

Holographic Mandala © Harold Davis

With this imagery it was visually important to me to “square the circle” with a square crop. With some of the Crystal Mandalas, like the Holographic Mandala, there is almost a three dimensional look—part of the image jumps off the plane. In contrast, with Mandala Inside, the effects create an outer translucent shell or layer, with an inner core that is much bolder and more defined.

Mandala Inside © Harold Davis

Mandala Inside © Harold Davis

These could be small virtual worlds, and have become something completely unrelated to the original sequence of photos. When I first looked in my crystal bowl, I did not know where it would take me!

Green Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

Green Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

 

Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

Lantern Mandala © Harold Davis

Quince by Moon

Here’s my red flowering quince shot, with the moon in an alternate position. Good argument for archiving one’s layers unflattened—that way it is easy to go back and move the moon!

Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

 

Broken Arrow and Creating LAB Patterns

Wandering the pedestrian walk on new San Francisco Bay Bridge span in the waning days of the year, I shot this directional arrow, intended to guide foot and bike traffic, straight down and broken up by strong shadows from the railing.

Broken Arrow © Harold Davis

Broken Arrow © Harold Davis

Before I converted Broken Arrow to black and white, of course, it was color (shown below). (The monochrome version is still an RGB color file technically speaking—but that’s another story!)

Broken Arrow - color © Harold Davis

Broken Arrow – color © Harold Davis

It’s astoundingly easy to use Photoshop adjustments in LAB color and blending modes to create intricate patterns out of something like the color version of Broken Arrow. Here’s one example:

LAB Cross Pattern #1 © Harold Davis

LAB Cross Pattern #1 © Harold Davis

To get to the pattern from the color photo,  in Photoshop I duplicated the image, and converted the duplicate to LAB color mode. I next used Image > Adjust > Invert to invert the LAB color values within the file, and then converted the entire image back to RGB, with results shown below:

LAB Inversion (all channels) © Harold Davis

LAB Inversion (all channels) © Harold Davis

Next, I made another duplicate of the original image file, converted it to LAB, selected the L channel only, and inverted the L channel. I flipped the image horizontally, with results shown below:

L-Channel Inversion (Flipped) © Harold Davis

L-Channel Inversion (Flipped) © Harold Davis

The last big step is to align the two LAB inversions as layers in one image, and set the Blending Mode to Difference (by the way, they have to be back in RGB, or the Difference mode isn’t available).

There are many possible variations on this technique of course, depending on what channels you invert, how you flip the image, and what blending modes you use. Here’s another variation from the same original image:

LAB Cross Pattern #2 © Harold Davis

LAB Cross Pattern #2 © Harold Davis

To learn more about the LAB color techniques for creative image making I have pioneered, check out The Way of the Digital Photographer  (pages 156-163) and The Photoshop Darkroom (pages 148-201). If this really intrigues you, you may want to consider my Mastering Creative Photoshop workshop (January 25-26, one last minute spot available, more space in the second session, May 31 – June 1, 2014).

Star light, star bright, stacking star trails tonight!

Star trails are magical. It’s amazing to see the stars circling in the sky, reminding us that our planet is rotating in space. For many folks who want to get started with star trail photography, it’s something of a mystery and seems inherently difficult. Not so!

Click here to read my article Stacking Star Trails in Photoshop Creative Cloud (posted on Peachpit.com) to learn methods for turning night-sky photos into star trails in Photoshop CC.

Saline Valley Star Trails © Harold Davis

Saline Valley Star Trails © Harold Davis