Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens I’m going to show you how to take this image and turn into this image, using camera raw. So let’s get started and see what we can do. So in Iceland I really wanted to photograph this falls. And the way you say this falls in Icelandic is Kirkjufellsfoss or in English Kirkjufellsfoss. So I’ve now butchered it equally in both Icelandic and English. I apologize to everyone. But it’s a great waterfall. I really wanted to get a picture of it. Julene and I have traveled all day long. It was right at the end of the day. Julene was feeling very sick. We hauled our stuff up to be able to get this photograph and the light was not amazing. It truly wasn’t amazing. So finally I decided, “Okay, I’m going to have to shoot something that I can really manipulate when I get back to the studio.”
Special shout out to AtlasPacks who sent us backpacks so we can carry all of our gear through Iceland. I had my landscape kind of kit laid out in my AtlasPacks. So, I got my filters, I got my lenses and got my travel trinity. (There’s another lesson you take a look at if you’re interested in.) But that Atlas pack made it easy to organize everything and carry everything all the way through Iceland.
So I went to my normal landscape setup when it came to filters and what I’m going to do to drag the shutter so I can get a nice image here. So first off, I’m going to use a polarizer. I put the Nisi polarizer on the Tamron 17-28mm lens. I chose that lens. I do a 50mm lens a lot of the time. But in this case I just wanted something wide enough to be able to capture the entire scene and not have to stitch it together. Because I’m going to go in, if I stitch it together that blurring water starts to sometimes be a problem. Then I put a medium grad, it’s a three-stop grad on. And I push that down to where I really darkened the sky as much as possible. In doing that it starts to darken the top of the mountain just a little bit. So I looked at that and I’m going, “Do I like that and what’s my feeling about that?” And I kind of, my sense of it was, is that you know what, it’s emphasizing the light. It’s making the light look a little different on that mountain. It goes from the kind of streaks of highlights coming across the ridge line there to a little darker peak. And I thought, “You know what, it doesn’t look that bad.”
So now in order to get a correct, or an exposure I can work with later in Photoshop here, I have got to really expose for the highlights. Or I’ve got to under expose this image. So that means that all of your shadows are going to look really, really deep. And if you look at this image it looks really deep. I mean, we’re looking at least two stops maybe three stops underexposed. But when I do tests on these cameras, most cameras, digital cameras, good high-end digital cameras you can get away with something being two or three stops underexposed. And I can bring all that information back. But if those highlights in the clouds up there are overexposed I’m going to lose everything. So in this case I’m exposing for the sky as best I can. I can see a little bit of detail up there. I don’t dare go any more underexposed. And I’m just looking at my camera going, “You know what, I’m going to darken that a little more. Darken that a little more, can I deal with that? Can I live with that?” I’m saying, “I’m just barely seeing a little bit of detail in that highlight above. I think that’s about where I’m going to have to be.” So there’s our first image. It is really dark. But the clouds are in pretty good shape in the top. So let’s start with that and let’s open that up in Camera Raw.
All right, so here’s our image. I’m going to just first work on the main image on its own. It’s pretty easy here. I’m going to do just some basic kinds of things. In the basic I’m going to bring my exposure up. I’m going to come up quite a bit. I’m going to come up so I’m opening up the shadows a little bit. I’m starting to lose some detail on those highlights. But that’s okay. They’re still there. I can bring them back with a mask. And now I’m going to open my Shadows up. I’m going to bring those shadows up and I’m going to get that pretty high. So I’m getting a pretty good, I’m just getting a pretty good open area down below here. Now at this point I’m making a decision and this is maybe a little lazy. But it’s what I do a lot of the times. I’m going to jump onto the dehaze and dehaze does several things. It’s going to create contrast. It’s going to really chrome the color a little bit. And I’m going to push this up quite a little bit. I’m going to push this up to like plus 44. And when I get up to plus 44 look how the green starts to come in. The green gets pretty intense. The blue starts to get intense in the sky up there. It does several things that I feel like really work. Now you could go through several different layers here. I could go through a color layer. I could go through a sharpen, not sharpening, but I could go through detail. I could do several things to be able to get to this place. But I find that that dehaze just does a lot of that work. It does the heavy lifting for me. So now I’m pretty good. I feel like in the foreground my exposures and things look pretty good. I’m open. I’ve got great color. And now I’m going to start working on the sky. There’s a lot of problems up here in the sky. And I’m going to use three masks to be able to clean this up.
So the first mask I’m going to do, I made a decision, and that was that I could do the first thing I just do is select the sky. Which in Camera Raw is pretty easy to do. I mean look at that. It just selects that whole sky in a mask. I want that peak of that mountain to be a little darker. So I’m not going to do that. I’m going to throw that away. I’m going to do a gradation. I’m going to pull this gradation down from the top. I’m going to go all the way down to about mid-way. I’m going to make that midpoint start to get into the mountain quite a bit. And now I’m going to just start, I’m going to work on the exposure on this mask. I’m just going to use a bit of dehaze here because I want to push the clouds up. And I’m going to just push this up, if I get up into, yeah, I get somewhere in there. I’m starting to get nice clouds. I’m getting a nice blue up there. I do see a lot of sensor dust. There’s dust all over this sensor. You can see it, it’s terrible. And I don’t mind that it’s darkening the top of the mountain. It’s just doing a little bit. But it helps emphasize that kind of highlight that’s going across the ridge line. And it’s making that mountain just a little darker. Now, already I’m much further along with that, with the sky. There the sky looks much better. But at this point I’m going to say that’s good for that first mask.
So I’m going to now go into the healing brush. And in that healing brush I’m going to start working on this. And of course the healing brush, if you want to go in and out of it it’s B. B brings you in and out, goes back to your controls and shift B is going to change from healing to clone. So I’m just going to start working on this here. I use the mouse I rub up and down on the mouse to make the size of this smaller. I’m just going to go after it and there’s a lot to clean up here.
All right, so there’s our first mask. But look at the problem we’ve got here. We’ve got this big stripe that goes right across the mountain here just above the waterfalls and it’s just blown out. So I’m going to create another mask.I’m going to go in here and I’m going to create a second mask and I’m going to do a sky mask. So I’ll go ahead and put, plus mask, sky. Not subject, sky. There we go. So I’m getting everything with this mask. So I don’t want everything with this mask so I’m going to subtract. I’m going to subtract here with the brush and I’mgoing to make this big because I got a lot to get rid of. And I’m going to get rid of everything I don’t want to mess with what I did on my first mask up here that’s all working out perfect.I don’t want to get in here. I want to get just below this line here. I want this mask to work on this area just below that line. So let’s start with that. And I’m going to just simply, I’m now going to just really pull the exposure down here. I’m going to bring this way back and we start to see the clouds come in now.I can play with the highlights a little bit. I can maybe bring the highlights down just a little bit. That’s going to help. I don’t go too far because it starts to feel dirty. I can also go in and I can just make that exposure come up just a little bit brighter with it so it feels a little more like the horizon. And the kind of looking out into the horizon there. Might be a little bright there. I think I’m going to pull the dehaze back in here. I’m just going to pull it back a little bit. And that’s going to get rid of some of that heaviness in the clouds, if I pull that dehaze back a little bit. And that’s going to make that transition just a little better.
All right, so I’m now going to, I’m just going to take my brush and you see this kind of heavy line between the first mask and the second? I’m just going to kind of slowly, I’m going to try to stay out of that, I’m going to add the mask in a little bit and just try to make that transition look a little more comfortable. It’s looking pretty good. I’m getting it pretty good on the horizon here. I wish this area over here wasn’t quite so much on the side. So I’m going to do it. I’m going to crazy enough, I’m going to try a third mask. I’m going to just do a third mask here. So I’ll add a mask and I’m going to again do the select the sky. So it gets me everything. I’m going to subtract with the brush, most of it. I’m going to get rid of all this here. And I’m just going to just try to bring this exposure down just a little bit right in this little area here. It’s just a little area there that’s bugging me. So if I feel like these masks are not blended together as nicely as I would like. I can show overlay and I can go through each mask. I can kind of bring up the levels on each mask a little bit. And just see if, you know, what I need to do to make them match just a little better. My first mask, I might even take that first mask and just bring the exposure down just a little a little more. And that just gives me a nice kind of, I just I want it to blend nicely into the mask underneath it. I think that looks a little better. It just kind of feels like that blends into that background. Yeah, there’s our shot.
So let’s open this up and let’s take a look at our final image. So there’s our final image. We went from this, which was underexposed for the foreground but exposed correctly for the sky, to this after we did our masking and retouching all in camera raw. I love working in Camera Raw. Camera Raw is just a simple way to work. I’ve started to put my panoramic views together in Camera Raw because you can correct several images. You can put them together in camera raw. I love the masking. It’s quick and it gives you clean masks. It’s just a great way to work. I’m not a photo retouch, you know. I’m not like Julene. I do really simple quick ways to apply and do the things that I need to. And I think camera raw accomplishes that. So there you have it. A quick tutorial on how to take this little mountain that looks like this and turn it into this. So keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’.