30 April 2006

Fixing Old Images

One of the things I most enjoy in digital imaging is fixing old images.

My landlady had this old photograph of her great grandfather, and as you can see, it had been broken several times and looked rather bad:

My landlady is a very nice person and this picture is very important to her, so, I asked her if I could have it for a couple of days, and did the following:

- Scan the image on my computer at 300 dpi (I should have scanned it as grayscale, but for some reason I didn’t, so I had to convert it into grayscale in Photoshop: Image > Mode > Grayscale)

- Create a new Adjustment layer for Levels: Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels

- Create a new layer (Blending mode: Normal) to fix the background

- Use the Clone Stamp tool on the new layer to fix the worst bits of the background

- Use the Brush tool to paint other parts of the background (I selected a suitable tone of gray by using the Eyedropper tool)

- Create a new (normal) layer to “fix” the grandpa

- Use the Clone Stamp tool to fix the foreground (the grandpa)

(You don’t necessarily need two separate layers for the background and the foreground, but I preferred to do it this way.)

I then printed the image on an A4 sheet and gave it to my landlady. That was the best part of the process! You can’t believe how happy she was to have a new version of her favorite picture.

Here's the result:

P.S. Here are the two fixed layers together, for your reference (as you can see, I could have painted the background a little bit more carefully - there shouldn't be any white spaces at all):

Fixed layers
EDIT: When you use the Clone Stamp tool on a separate layer, make sure that Sample All Layers is selected. Otherwise you can only use the tool on the layer you are working on.

26 April 2006

Get Out of My Picture!

This image was shot at the Montserrat Monastery near Barcelona:

What’s wrong:
- Crappy cropping!
- The picture is inclined to the right
- I want that guy out of my picture! (Sorry.)

Here’s what I did:
- Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary
- Crop tool
- Clone Stamp tool (to remove the guy)
- New Adjustment layer (Levels)

It still isn't the Picture of the Year, but I think it looks a little bit better now:

25 April 2006

The Power of Black'n'White

I never shoot black’n’white images with my digital camera, because I prefer to have a color version of all the pictures I shoot, just in case. Besides, it’s very easy to convert any color image into BW in Photoshop, but it’s not that easy to paint a BW picture to make it look like a “real” color image.

I like BW pictures a lot, and I think many pictures look better in BW than in color. For example, I liked the shadows of this (color) picture:

...but to my eye, it looks better after converting it into BW in Photoshop (Image > Mode > Greyscale) and adjusting the levels:

23 April 2006

Little Things Mean a Lot

Sometimes just one single adjustment can make a picture so much better, especially when it comes to contrast and levels.

I found this letter B (for Barcelona) engraved on a stone at the Labyrinth park (Parque del Laberinto) in Barcelona. The original is not good at all, as you can see:

But here’s how it looks like after creating one single Adjustment layer: Levels:

(OK, I couldn’t resist and used the Crop tool as well.)

22 April 2006

Angel in the Sky

This image was shot at the Sant Pau hospital in Barcelona. (It’s a great building, by the way, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, so do go and see it if you get the chance.)

What’s wrong with this image? Well, almost everything...
- No contrast
- No colors
- What’s that flagpole doing there?! I didn’t really want to shoot a flagpole, did I...

OK, so I first did this:
- Crop the image with the Crop tool (adiós, flagpole!)
- Create new Adjustment layers: Levels and Contrast
- Select the sky (Select > Color range > click on the sky)
- Create yet another Adjustment layer, with the sky still selected: Photo filter > Cooling filter (this way, the filter is only applied to the sky, not to the whole image; after all, I only want the sky to be blue, not the statue!). Photoshop automatically creates a layer mask based on my selection, and I can edit this mask later if I like.

Here’s the result:

...But, hey, what’s that white stuff all over the statue? Well, we all know what it is, don’t we... I don’t know what you think, but I think a World Heritage statue deserves something better, so I decided to remove the white stuff.

I did the following:

- Create a new layer on top of the previous layers
- Choose the Clone Stamp tool, making sure that Sample All Layers is selected
- Started cloning
- Everything else was easy, except for the chest of the statue: I had to be very careful not to mess up the texture of the chest, so I only cloned the worst bits and decided to cheat by...
- ...creating yet another layer (Color blending mode), choosing a nice brown tone by clicking on the statue with the Eyedropper tool, and started to paint with the Brush tool (I used a big soft round brush to cover the rest of the white stuff without losing the texture of the chest)

This time I was quite happy with the result, so, I (kind of) proudly present the final result:

19 April 2006

No Contrast, No Cry...

I was rather diappointed when I noticed that there was almost no contrast at all in this image I shot at Sagrada Familia some days ago:

I edited the picture in the following way:
  • Straighten the image a little bit: Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary...
  • Crop the image with the Crop tool
  • New Adjustment layers for Contrast and Levels
  • Filter Gallery > Fresco (adjusting the Brush size, Brush detail and Texture to my liking)
I'm now thinking that I should have straightened the image even more, because it still seems to be slightly inclined to the left. But, well, I suppose it's acceptable.

Fixing a "Messy" Picture

This picture I took on the Gaudí Avenue (Avenida de Gaudí) looked a little bit too messy, although my original idea was to photograph Sagrada Familia's towers from a "new" angle. (Yeah, right...)

What makes this picture messy? Well, for example:
  • the overhead cranes behind the towers (besides, the sky is overexposed!)
  • the traffic sign behind the leftmost bush (I didn't notice it when shooting the picture)
  • the texts on the wall of the newsstand at right

I first adjusted the contrast of the image and then used the Clone Stamp tool to remove all the disturbing elements from the picture. When it started to look neater I thought it would look nicer if I made it look a little bit older. So, here's the result:

There are many ways to make a picture look old, but this time I used the Sketch filter: Filter > Sketch > Reticulation.

I was a little bit lazy, so I didn't remove the scooters behind the newsstand. Had this been a serious photomontage, I would have done that. But as this is for my personal use only, I thought it's not worth my while.

What to do with a Blurred Image?

Ever shot an unsharp image? Don't have another, sharper shot of the same subject? OK, so it's just a digital image, who cares, you can always press Delete and throw it to the garbage bin, right?

True. However, I might be a little bit weird or something, but I also save many of the shots that aren't too sharp, because I like playing around with Photoshop... (I'm addicted; sorry!)

There are many things you can do with unsharp images. First of all, you can try to sharpen them (Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen). This works quite well with some images.

You could also have a go with Photoshop's Filter Gallery (Filter > Filter Gallery...) and see if you could create some interesting effects. - As you probably know, you can also change the default settings of most of the filters (Smoothness, Sharpness, Brush Size, etc.), so you're not limited to just applying the filter and see what happens.

I took this "macro shot" a couple of days ago on my balcony, and as you can guess, it wasn't quite what I expected it to be...

I first tried sharpening it in Photoshop, and the results were OK, but not quite as natural as I would have liked. So, I decided to do just the opposite: blur the image even more.
Here's what I did:
  • Duplicated the layer and then chose: Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur.
  • Changed the new layer's blending mode into Screen and set Transparency to about 50%
  • Adjusted Levels and Contrast by adding new layers, respectively.
  • Added a new Text layer and typed some text ("Happy Mother's Day" in Finnish); font Vivienne (also known as Vivaldi).
  • Used the Eyedropper tool to choose a dark blue colour by clicking on the image.
  • Added a new layer right below the text layer (above the other layers) and painted (Brush tool: Soft Round 200 px) a dark blue "shadow" behind the white text, to make the text more visible.
Here's the result. It's not the World's most amazing image, but hey, I'm sure my Mum will like it! :-D

Although I'm sure my Mum will like the picture, I wasn't very happy with it, so I tried a couple of other things:

  • Filter > Filter Gallery > Cutout (with a small number of levels, edge simplicity 4, edge fidelity 2)
  • New layer: Custom Shape Tool > Butterfly (One layer for each butterfly, so it's easier to move them around)

  • Crop tool: I cropped just the upper left corner of the image
  • Two new Adjustment layers: Contrast and Levels
  • New Text layer (font Monotype Corsiva; "Have a Nice Summer!" in Finnish)
I don't think any of these images will be published in the Computer Arts magazine, nor will they be praised by professional photoshoppers, but if my Mum likes the first version, my little niece the second version, and my friends the third version, I'll be happy!

Sleepless in Barcelona

My original shot of Tibidabo, Barcelona, was a real failure, so I wanted to do something about it.

This is the original:

And here's the result, after some photoshopping:

What I did was the following:
  • Cropped the image
  • Adjusted Levels and Contrast
  • Added a new Colour Layer (blue)
  • Added some Gaussian blur
  • Combined the layers (saving the original, just in case, of course...)
  • Duplicated the layer + changed its Blending Mode into Linear burn, Opacity 49%
  • Painted the moon with the Brush tool, Soft Round 200 px (approx. 90% opacity)
  • Created the bats in Illustror + placed them into Photoshop (File > Place), right below the blue Colour Layer
  • Added the Text Layer as the topmost layer