DCR Workshop: Post-Processing to Get What You Want

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Taking it to Photoshop
After transferring the image from Camera Raw into Photoshop, the first adjustment was to correct the perspective. To do that, I pressed Ctrl-minus on my Windows PC to reduce the size of the on-screen image, then grabbed a corner of that window, pulling to create lots of gray working space around the image. I pressed Ctrl-A to Select All, then chose Edit, Transform, Perspective. I grabbed the top right corner and yanked outward, pulling the pillars back into vertical alignment. The portions of the imaged pulled into the left and right triangular areas became lost from the final image.

After clicking the checkmark to accept this transform, I added some contrast with a curves layer to make the image pop. For other adjustments to the mural, I added a Color Balance adjustment layer, and another layer with a mask targeting the red shields. The statue “sculptures” and surrounding wreaths had an annoying pink tinge; a last Hue/Saturation layer with layer mask was used to desaturate these features to neutral gray.

The marble floor was a separate matter. The black wasn’t black enough, and the white wasn’t white enough. The rust-colored tiles looked washed out. Each required individual treatment. Doing so meant making a separate adjustment layer and mask for each. The black and white tiles each got a Curves layer. To adjust both the color and intensity of the rust-colored tiles, I created a Hue/Saturation layer with a layer mask targeting only that portion of the floor.

Several cosmetic corrections were made in Photoshop. To fix the unlit doorway at the far end of the arcade on the right side, I copied the door from the left side, pasted it to a separate layer, flipped it horizontally, then moved it into position. Exit signs near the two rear doorways and near the left front pillar were removed, as was a janitor’s mop bucket that was peeking out between two pillars. Finally, the overhead valence near the front right of the image, dark due to a burned out bulb, was restored using a technique similar to the aforementioned doors. Copied from the left valence and flipped, the warp tool was called into action to make it line up perfectly.

Total working time was about 90 minutes, much of it due to the intricacy of the layer masks for the floor tiles, and various portions of the ceiling. If I were doing this anew, I’d consider trying a different technique – converting the image into “Lab” color mode, making color corrections with blue-yellow and magenta-green Curves layers, then converting back to RGB color mode.

The comment I most often receive from Vegas veterans who see the large print on my office wall is that they don’t remember the colors ever being this vibrant. Exactly!

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Photo credit: Images © 2008 Joel Shore. Reproduction prohibited.



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