May Photoshop Challenge!

Photoshop Challenge!

I've been very lazy to start editing in Photoshop more even though I continuously run into limitations in Lightroom. So I decided to do a Photoshop challenge for myself this month to become better and more used to editing in Photoshop. For organizing a large amount of photos and applying the same settings Lightroom is great. The limitations show themselves when trying to do more advanced editing. For me the most important strenght in Photoshop is the ability to use layers to combine different effects and do blending. I know more than the basics in Photoshop, I just need to learn more specific techniques and to be more routinized. Most of the things I want to learn are connected to compositing landscape and night sky photos. Many of these things I've already done in Lightroom, so I just need to figure out how to do them in Photoshop and see how they compare. Here is a list of the things I want to try, I might not do every single one and I possibly I'll add new ones later. Also, I will most likely not do them in this order.

Panorama Stitching

I’ll start easy, with a technique I’ve used a lot already. I want to use how the tools in Photoshop compare. I might even try other programs for stitching

Color Grading

A technique mostly used in cinema, but I’ve found it is very useful for night photos. It gives great control over the colors, especially when there is a mix of different color temperatures. My attempts at this in Photoshop have been far from successful though. So it will require some experimentation to get right.

Focus Stacking

Finally something that I haven’t tried before! Focus stacking is useful not only for landscape photos but all sorts of photos where you need a wide depth of field. Wider than you can get from the lens, that is. I’ve wanted to try this for a while now and it is something I definitely need.

Focal Lenght Stacking

This one I’m not so sure I would actually seriously use. It does feel a bit ridiculous, but then again I don’t have any mountains I need to make big in my wide angle shots. But I’m trying to keep an open mind and learn techniques that I’m skeptical about. Finding somewhere to use this might be difficult though.

Star Stacking/Tracking

Stacking many pictures of the same stars on each other, that is. With the purpose of achieving longer exposure time. Another technique I’ve tried but want to improve upon.

Star Trail Stacking

Instead of making one long exposure the difference here is to take many pictures and just blend the stars. At the moment I don’t have very good source material for this and soon it will be too bright. I will see how I will manage with this one.

Night Sky Panorama

Same as the first one, but during night. It does require a different approach since lens distortion makes stars difficult to blend. So I will have to find a solution for that. Also I want to combine this with star tracking.

Night Background-Foreground Blending

Nothing more complicated than combining backgrounds and foregrounds of different exposures. For example to have both star trails and a light painted foreground

Orton Effect

“Blurry and sharp” or “dreamy effect”. Another one that I don’t think I will actually use. I don’t like the look of this technique so much and also it seems to the technique behind the more and more popular CGI-ish landscape photos. In a way it reminds me of HDR which might sound surprising since it is originally a darkroom technique.

High Dynamic Range

...speaking of which. I did mention in an earlier post that I wouldn't do any clown vomit, and this is not the point here either. I want to see how useful it is for extending the dynamic range, not on a crazy tonemapping scale, but just to see how useful an technique it is to capture a few more stops than what the sensor can capture.

Luminosity Masks

The last but perhaps the most important technique on my list. This is basically an advanced way of doing dodging and burning. An old darkroom technique with all the power Photoshop can give. Lightroom has gradient filters and brushes, but they are usually not enough and it is here where most of my frustration with it comes forward.

My plan for this challenge is to try at least once every technique in the following month. I don’t have source material for all of them, so it is also good motivation to also get out and Photograph more. The results of my experiments will be posted here in the order I try them. 

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