Editing in Photoshop #2: Compositing to Create Selective Color or Filters

Today we will learn how to use the pen tool to path out part of a photo and copy and paste it on a new layer. This will allow us to edit just that part of the photos. This technique is called compositing, and serves many purpose. For example, sometimes part of an image will already be sufficiently exposed (is bright enough), while part of the image is too dark. In this case, you would want to lighten selective areas of your photo with a technique called compositing. You can also use compositing to put a filter on just one part of your photo.

How to create a composite image:

  1. Go to the “paths” window on the lower right side of the screen. It is likely tabbed next to the layers palette.
    Click the “new path” button. new_path_icon
  2. Go to the toolbar on the left side of the screen. Select the pen tool. pen_tool
    Outline the part of the photograph you want to modify.
  3. Once you have closed your shape by clicking on the first point, go back to the paths window.
    Right click on the path you have created, and click “make selection.”
    make_selection_layers
    Feather the selection by 1pixel (this will soften the edges of your selection).
    It should look like ants are marching around the part of the photo you have selected.
    marching_ants
  4. Control + click to copy your selection. Control + click to paste your selection.
    just_josh
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you have pathed out, copied, and pasted all the parts of the photo that you would like to modify.
    just_darren_josh
  6. Now here’s the fun part – modifying each part of the image. Go back to the “layers” window. Click on the layer you want to modify, then at the top of the screen, go to Image -> Adjustments, and select the appropriate adjustment. In this case, I want to make the background black & white, so I clicked on the background layer:
    image_adjustments_bw
    finished_selective_color
  7. Repeat the steps above to individually adjust the levels on each part of your photo that contains unique lighting.
    For example, the people in my photo seem a bit too dark, so I can click on each of their layers in the layers palette, go to Image -> Adjustments -> Levels, and adjust the levels on each person until I am happy with the lighting.
    darren_josh_selective_color_levels

Today we will:

  • use compositing to selectively edit part of a photo
  • create a new blog post featuring the before and after of each edited photo

The Pen Tool

Today we will practice using the pen tool. We will use the pen tool throughout the year in both Illustrator and Photoshop. We will begin with a demonstration of how to use the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator.

After the demonstration:
  • If you have never used the pen tool, or feel like you never quite got the hang of it, you will complete the vector practice tutorial
  • If you consider yourself a pen tool expert, you will trace over a photograph in Illustrator, creating realistic shadows and highlights.

Pen Tool for Beginners: Vector Practice Tutorial

  1. Download the “vectorpractice.zip” file here.
  2. Unzip the file.
  3. Open the .ai file in Illustrator.
  4. Trace over each shape with the pen tool. (They are numbered from the simplest to the most complex.)
  5. Save your file as a PDF. (File -> Save as -> PDF).
    Remember where you saved your file! If you don’t know where you saved your file, the teacher certainly won’t.
  6. Create a new blog post. Upload the PDF containing the vector images you have traced and describe any difficulties you had with the pen tool.

Pen Tool Review for Experts: Tracing over a Photograph

You will create a vector illustration of a raster image by using the pen tool in Illustrator to trace over part of a photograph. For example, I turned a photograph of chocolate chip cookies into a vector illustration:chocolate_chip_cookies vector_cookies

  1. Download a photograph.
  2. Create a new file in Adobe Illustrator. Open Illustrator, (File -> New Document) and place the downloaded photo in that file. (File -> place)
    DO NOT try to open your downloaded image in Illustrator! This will cause strange things to happen.
  3. Create a new layer by clicking on the “new layer” button at the bottom of the layers palette on the right side of the screen. new_layer_button
  4. Trace over your first shape. (You may need to decrease the opacity of this layer so you can see what you are tracing. You can do this by clicking on the transparency icon transparency_icon on the right side of the screen and decreasing the opacity so it is below 100. transparency_window)
  5. Bring the opacity back 100% and adjust the color if necessary.
  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you are happy with your vector illustration. Click here for more information on how to create shadows and highlights in Illustrator.
  7. Save your Illustrator file, and then save a version as a .pdf
  8. Create a new blog post. In this post, upload your source photo and the .pdf of your vector illustration. Write a brief paragraph describing your image. Include any difficulties you had creating the image, and how you worked through them. Credit the source where you got your photo, so you don’t wind up in trouble like Shepard Fairey:
    hope_poster_controversy

Today we will:

  • practice using the pen tool by completing one of the following tasks:
    • newbies – complete the vector practice tutorial
    • experts – create a vector illustration of a photograph, complete with shadows and highlights
  • create a new blog post with the following:
    • a PDF of the work we completed today
    • a few sentences describing any challenges you faced when working with the pen tool, and how you worked through them

Photo Assignment #2: Black & White Portraiture

For this assignment, we will take portraits of people. To keep the focus on the subject, all submitted photos must be black and white. You will obviously have the opportunity to photograph your classmates during class time, but you may also want to take photos of your friends and family members after school and on the weekends. You may sign out a camera to use during lunch, but you must return it and clear the memory card by 2:55 pm on the same day.

Note: Mornings are starting to get chilly, so come prepared with a jacket or sweatshirt. Short of a torrential downpour or blizzard, we will continue going outside daily. I expect you to dress appropriately for the weather.

Here are some examples of portraits Ms. Lawson has taken:

betty_jabari

keion

damare

josh_darren_skateboard

isiah_photography3

kwondell_katie_breanna

Here are some examples of portraits taken by SOTA students:

Photo Credit: Deanna, Class of 2015

Photo Credit: Deanna, Class of 2015

Photo Credit: Katie, Class of 2015

Photo Credit: Katie, Class of 2015

Photo Credit: Lizzy, Class of 2015

Photo Credit: Lizzy, Class of 2015

Photo Credit: Manny, Class of 2016

Photo Credit: Manny, Class of 2016

Project Requirements:

  • 10 high-quality, edited [if necessary] photos
    • photos depict a human subject
    • photos are technically sound (no over or underexposed areas, image is in focus, etc.)
    • photos are black and white
    • photos are aesthetically appealing (follow the rule of thirds, visual elements within the photo display unity, clear focal point, etc.)
  • Minimum 150 word artist statement.
  • Click here for an example of a final photo blog post that received an A+

Senior Opt Out

If you are in 12th grade and are not feeling the portrait photography project, you have the option of designing your own project. Copy and paste the questions in the senior project proposal form into a new blog post, answer them, and include sample images of the style of art you hope to create. You will be responsible for posting daily images of your progress to your blog, and for completing the project by the time the rest of the class is done with their portrait photography project. Lizzy has a great example of a strong senior opt out project proposal.

Today we will:

  • take photos of our classmates outside
  • create a new blog post with the following:
    • the best photos we took today
    • a few sentences explaining what you enjoyed or found easy about the assignment, as well as what you found challenging or would like more help with

Macro Photography Critique

Early art critic

Today we will finish any necessary edits to our macro photography unit, and publish a new blog post with our 10 final, edited [if necessary] photos and a solid artist statement. We will then critique the photos taken by our classmates.

Today we will:

  • Finish our final blog post with our 10 final, edited [if necessary] photos and a solid artist statement.
  • View one another’s macro photographs
  • Leave thoughtful comments on at least 10 classmate’s photos. You may choose to explore photo essays from both class sections.
    • Examples of empty comments: “Like :-)”, “Nice work”
    • Examples of thoughtful comments: “Breanna did a great job showing the difference between the architectural city scape and the tranquil beach. The light, cool colors of the beach scene show a significant contrast from the darker cityscape.”
  • Create a new blog post with the following:
    • Images of at least 3 photographs you feel are aesthetically superior, credit the photographer who took each photo, and write a few sentences explaining why you feel each chosen photo is solid.

Artist Statement and Final Photo Collection

Here are some of my favorite photos taken by SOTA students during the macro photography unit:

Photo Credit: Marina, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Marina, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Nelsie, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Nelsie, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Brian, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Brian, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Damare, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Damare, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Alyssa, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Alyssa, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Yolie, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Yolie, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Sean, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Sean, 11th Grade

Photo Credit: Jenny, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Jenny, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Michele, 12th Grade

Photo Credit: Michele, 12th Grade

Wrapping Up the Macro Photography Unit

Today we will begin compiling our final project. In today’s blog post, you should post your favorite 15-20 unedited photos and a draft of your artist statement. Begin your artist statement by answering the questions below, then edit them into a smooth paragraph. Lizzy and Deanna have great examples of artist statements and photo collections.

If you still have class time remaining after publishing your first post, consult Ms. Lawson about which photos you can improve by editing, and use this blog post as a guide.

Artist statement brainstorming questions

Ask yourself what you’re photographing

  • What does your photo essay express?
  • What makes your photo essay unique?

Ask yourself why you’re photographing it

  • What motivates you to create this photo essay?
  • What emotions or feelings are you trying to convey?
  • What does this photo essay mean to you?

Ask yourself how you’re doing it

  • What do you draw inspiration from?
  • What tools and materials do you use? (What type of camera? Are you using color or black and white? What type of lighting?)
  • How does your equipment and color mode choice affect the end product?

Consider your influences

  • What influences you (ex. Art, music, literature, politics, the environment)?
  • How have these influences made an impression on you?
  • How do these influences manifest themselves in your photo essay? Try to be as specific as possible.

Determine what you want people to understand

  • What do you want people to take away from your photo essay?
  • What message or emotion are you trying to convey?

Today we will:

  • Create a new blog post with the following:
    • a draft of our artist statement in paragraph form
    • our strongest 15-20 photos that you may use in the project
  • If time allows:
    • Begin editing any photos that can be improved. Click here for more information.
    • Create a second blog post with before and after examples. See Michele’s blog post for a great example.

Editing in Photoshop #1: Cropping and Levels

This blog post contains a guide to some basic photo editing techniques in Adobe Photoshop. First and foremost, remember that not all photos need editing. If a photo looks great, leave it alone!

Straightening a crooked image

In general, try to hold your camera straight, and when possible, steady it by leaning it on a sturdy surface. If you have accidentally taken a crooked photo however, you can straighten it in Photoshop. Here are some examples: Photo credit: Betty Photo credit: Lizzy

How to Straighten a Crooked Image in Photoshop

  1. In your layers palette on the lower right side of the screen, double click the background layer. Rename it.
  2. View -> Rulers
    view_rulers
  3. Rulers will show up on the top and left side of the screen.
    Click anywhere in the ruler area and drag toward the photo to create a guide.
    guide_Adding_instructions
  4. Adjust the guide so it is next to an object with a straight edge that is currently slanted.
    You will use this guide as your reference. (In the example below, I have added a vertical guide to compare to the street light, and a horizontal guide to compare to the horizon line.)
    Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.26.01 PM
  5. Edit -> Transform -> Rotate
  6. Rotate the image until the edge of your object is parallel to your guide. Then press the “enter” key. Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.26.48 PM
  7. Select the crop tool from the tools palette on the left side of the screen. crop_tool
  8. Drag your crop tool to select the area you want to keep.
    Press the “enter” key once you have successfully evened out the edges of your image.
    Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 3.27.11 PM

Cropping Distracting Objects Out of an Image

You can also use the crop tool to cut out distracting objects in the background and make the focal point stand out more. Notice how much stronger the image on the right is, because I have focused the attention on Robert by cropping out the distracting elements around him:
IMG_2444_bw IMG_2444edited

Important Note #1: Whenever you edit an image, save a version of the image with a new name by going to the top of the screen and selecting File -> Save As, and naming it something that makes sense. For example, if the original image was named “Flower123,” and you cropped the image, name the edited version “Flower123_cropped.”

Important Note #2: Not every image needs to be cropped! If an image looks great already, leave it alone.

How to Increase Contrast by Adjusting Levels

  1. Image -> Adjustments -> Levels
  2. Look at the image that pops up. If your image has sufficient contrast, the “mountain range” will extend to the edge of the window. If your image looks similar to this, you do not need to adjust the levels, and can close out of the window:
    levels_no_adjustment

    If your “mountain range” of values does not extend to the edges of the window (such as the example below), you will click on the left cursor and drag it to the beginning of the left side of the mountain. You will then click on the right cursor and drag it to the beginning of the right side of the mountain. You will be able to preview what you are doing as long as the “preview” box is checked. levels_before_and_after
    When you have adjusted your levels, click ok.

Today we will:

  • Edit our favorite photos.
  • Create a new blog post with before and after images of any photos we edited today.
    Michele’s blog post has a great example of how to show before and after images side by side.
  • If you are not sure if an image can be improved with editing, but want to include it in your final collection of 10 photos, post it to your blog today with a note asking whether it would be best to edit it or leave it alone.

Featured Photographer: Edward Weston

Examine these photographs by Edward Weston to obtain inspiration for our macro photography assignment:

weston-shell

Pepper-no.-30-di-Edward-Weston

SC176154

edward-weston-1886-1958-cabbage-leaf-39v-1931gelatin-silver-print-193-x-237-cm-center-for-creative-photography-arizona-board-of-regents-1402941391_org

edward_weston_72Edward Weston was an American photographer of the early to mid-20th century, best known for his carefully composed, sharply focused images of natural forms, landscapes, and nudes.

Weston, along with Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham, was part of a group of California photographers known as f/64. The group was named after the tiny aperture setting that helped them achieve their ultimate goal of “clearness and definition of photographic image.” Weston applied the principles of sharpness and cool precision to the nude just as he did to still lives and landscapes. He used the same technique with a series of vegetables, transforming cabbages and peppers into sensuous abstracts exploring shape and pattern. His work influenced a generation of American photographers.

You can learn more about Edward Weston on his official website.

Today we will:

  • continue taking macro photographs outside
  • transfer the images from our phones or SD cards to our computers
  • upload our best 6-20 photos from today to our Google Drives AND class blogs
  • publish a new blog post with today’s best 6-20 photos and a few sentences about what worked well today and what you still find challenging