Cross processing colors in Photoshop seems to be very popular for making images look edgy and, what some may label as, “hipsterish”. I personally don’t like labels because a single style can be used for a variety of reasons for to produce wildly different looking work. So, when I found that one of the photos from my trip to the beach in the very early morning came out sort of boring, using cross processing seemed like an excellent solution to make the colors stand out. I didn’t just want the colors to be brighter, though. I wanted the colors to be in-line with the idea that the content that the image was putting forward.
I figured that 6:00am was early enough to be at the beach in order to capture the shots of the sun rising. Unfortunately, it turned out to be way too early. Even more unfortunate was that my camera’s battery was on its last leg. So, I settled on taking some long exposures of the horizon, counting down anywhere from 40 to 120 seconds per shot.
The glow in the sky was produced by the street lights in the distance. If the camera was facing any further to the left, the glow would disappear as there were almost no lights in that area. And, I naturally wanted to use the editing process to place more emphasis on “pollution” by making the colors a bit more.. toxic.
In addition to a slight crop, I also wanted to get rid of the object in the foreground. Because it was such a dark corner, essentially lacking any detail, removing the object was relatively simple by means of stamping and healing.
Cross processing is an extremely versatile way to get the colors you want. This is partly because you use a different layer filter for each color channel (Blue, Green, and Red). Each one can be manipulated with complete freedom. They can then be brushed in or out using masks, or you could just lower the opacity for the one or all the layers. In this particular shot, I didn’t even use the red filter.
I had an entire week without internet recently and was forced to do something other than my ordinary routine of browsing the web. Simultaneously, I had access to a spare tire sitting around in my living room. I used the opportunity to put together a couple of images that you can see below.
The first photo is meant to be a commercial representation of the tire showcasing the logo. The lighting was fairly simple: One Alien Bee 800 strobe providing the main light from behind and to the right of the camera. I also positioned my speedlight directly to the left of the tire as a spot-light on the lettering.
The reasoning behind the lighting seemed somewhat obvious to me as soon as I had a mental image of what I wanted it to look like. I knew that the strobe would create enough light to be used as the main and would create soft shadows, especially with a small lightbox attached. The speedlight, hitting the rubber directly, would generate some nice highlights to emphasize the logo. After seeing what my initial setup produced, I simply made small adjustments to lighting power and location. Part of the reason that it seemed simple was the material I was shooting. The rubber of the tire has very little texture on the tread but a lot of texture along the side. Hard light coming from the speedlight combined with the textured text created very nice contrast. Finally, the black and slightly reflective traits of the material told me that positioning of the lights would be important – part of this comes from knowing the different types of reflections and how to use your light to take advantage of them.
I want to note the white space at the top. This space is free to be used as I wish. It can remain white or I could place some other content there to help me portray a particular message. One idea is to include a scene of a Nascar pit crew, or just a race track or stands. It delivers the message of speed, performance, and professional quality. How well this can be done will depend on the photographer (or illustrator).
The second image is of the same tire but from a different perspective and with an even more simple lighting setup. The idea behind this was for something more artistic and conceptual. I have recently really enjoyed photography of flowers in black and white and this was my attempt to use a similar style on a very different subject.
What I like most about this photo is the detail of the tire’s surface. This isn’t just limited to the treads but also includes the texture of the rubber itself. I mentioned earlier how the flat part of the tire does not have much texture so I tried specifically to get as much of it as possible. I didn’t use the Alien Bee strobe and instead made exclusive use of the speedlight which I handled without a tripod. I simply hand-held it, lighting the different areas of the tire. I then created a composite of two different photos.
As I am still learning to do photo touch-up, it always seems like there must be an easier way to do everything. Of course there are user-created actions that you can download and use blindly, probably with good results, but there are also tons of undiscovered features right in Photoshop itself.
However, sometimes there isn’t an easier method. After all, editing photos without losing the authenticity of the original image is immensely complicated. The software developers at Adobe can only do so much to streamline the process for you. There are times where you really just need to go in knee-deep and pixel hunt.
Below is a comparison of the same image before and after editing. Obviously there are no major stylistic changes. The difference is almost entirely in the removal of certain objects that I didn’t want. This includes two trees on the right and several spots in the sand. Unfortunately for me, there is no quick fix to this kind of work (at least not that I know of) and I was forced to make many, many tiny adjustments over a long session. On the bright side, the work was relatively simple. Much of this was done with either the healing, stamp, and spot healing tools in addition to the use of masking layers.
Now that I have a clean capture of the architecture, I am free to make other, less arduous adjustments to the image. I am sure that there are ways to make this kind of editing easier – such as increasing contrast to see more clearly while zoomed in – and I hope to find said techniques before the next session of late-night stamping.