Converting to grayscale


I got back from Photoshop World in Las Vegas last weekend with my head full of great instruction on Photoshop and Lightroom. It was a great show even though I don’t like Las Vegas (too much smoke, mirrors, noise, and glitz.) There are so many beautiful places to have that show on the west coast, I don’t understand why they keep picking Vegas—ick! Anyway, there were some wonderful speakers and presentations despite the location. My favorite teachers in the Lightroom track were Matt Kloskowski and Chris Orwig. I really missed Julieanne Kost and Katrin Eismann. (They are usually at that show but couldn’t make it this time.)

New from my close friend, Russell Brown—some new Photoshop video tutorials that you can see on XTrain’s learning site. Click on the “Go to Free Classes” button and check out the free videos. (You’ll have to register to view the free classes.) Look at Russell’s Black and White Experiments lesson. It’s fun, it’s wacky, and you’ll learn all sorts of ways to convert your photo to grayscale. For those of you who are wanting to learn how to convert to grayscale in Lightroom, look at Matt Kloskowski’s video, “Convert color photos to black-and-white.” Before you convert, read this tip on using the Before and After screens.

Color correcting in Lightroom

Do your landscape photos have the blues? Many of mine do. I was recently on the island of Kauai and visited the beautiful Waimea Canyon. I took several shots there and was disappointed when I came back to see how blue and misty the images looked. That’s not how the canyon looked to me that day!

This often happens when I shoot images that span vast spaces. I suppose it’s a combination of the atmosphere and my camera’s tendency to produce slightly bluish images. I’ll bet you there is someone out there who can tell me the technical reasons for why this occurs in my digital images. But what can you do when this happens? What I do is turn to Lightroom. First, I watched George Jardine’s excellent video on Basic Color Correction, and then proceeded to color correct my image. Look at the before and after images below. The “After” image looks like I remember Waimea Canyon looking—vibrant greens, bright red Kauai dirt, crisp white ribbons of water.

One of the tools I used to correct this image was the Vibrance slider. For a great little tutorial on how to use this tool, see Matt Kloskowski’s video, “Adjust an image’s color using the Vibrance slider.”


Retouching at its worst (and best)


Take a look at Nomi Altabef’s blog on designsessions. She analyzes the techniques of an unknown photo retoucher who used Photoshop to transform an image of Faith Hill for a Redbook magazine cover. Amazing! What is it about some retouchers and photographers that make them feel like they need to remake their models into something other than what they are? Why can’t they just remove the dust spots and blemishes and leave the model’s likeness intact? Hear what some magazine editors have to say about it on this Today show segment.

This is my opinion, not necessarily Adobe’s, but I find it disheartening that so many photographers can’t be subtle when it comes to retouching. If you look at the before and after shots of Faith Hill in this article, she’s more real and more beautiful in the “Before” picture. The retouched version presents an emaciated, distorted manikin devoid of character and personality. This retoucher went way too far—hence the award by for the most egregious example of unrealistic “beauty” standards. They call it the “Photoshop of Horrors”.

Enough about the bad side of retouching. There is plenty of good retouching happening in the world. For a great tutorial on the fine art of retouching, read Portrait Retouching by Katrin Eismann. Katrin also produced a video tutorial on retouching and restoring old photos with Photoshop CS3. If you’re working in Lightroom, check out the Spot Removal tutorial by Sean McCormack. For a nice tip on using the clone tool in Photoshop, look at Matt Kloskowski’s video.

Other links of interest on this topic:

Dove: Evolution

Lightroom or Photoshop for retouching?

We recently received this question from our feedback posts on Adobe Design Center. The person had just watched Matt Kloskowski’s excellent video, “Remove spots from an image in Photoshop Lightroom”:

How do you remove lines, like powerlines and jet contrails, and something like a piece of paper floating on the water? I can’t see how [Lightroom] works for those issues. I find Photoshop much easier to use for this function. Please comment.

My reply to him was:

Thanks for your comment. You are right, Photoshop is the correct tool for the tasks you mentioned. The Remove Spots function in Lightroom is really best for removing dust spots on an image. To do more extensive retouching, you should be using the tools in Photoshop.

For an excellent tutorial on retouching with Photoshop CS3, look at Katrin Eismann’s, “Retouching and repairing photographs”.