How to: Brightness, Contrast & Volume.

Processing is an integral technological stage of photo creation. The process of professional photo processing can be divided into two key stages:

RAW conversion. Basic corrections are already being made here. Examples of RAW converters: Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Camera RAW, Capture One Pro, Liminar AI.

Retouching and subtle color correction. To perfect a shot often requires advanced retouching. And there is only one program for that – Adobe Photoshop, the industry standard. How does Photoshop differ from, say, Lightroom? Photoshop does not know how to work with the RAW format, it contains already converted images in raster format (TIFF, JPEG, etc.), so it is used at the final stages of processing.

Unlike Lightroom, in Adobe Photoshop, photo editing is done using layers. You can make certain corrections on each layer, overlay layers on top of each other, use masks. This opens up new processing possibilities, which we will discuss in this tutorial.

Serious photo processing is impossible without a good display. The display is the eyes of the photographer. We are well acquainted with the ConceptD line – these are devices designed for professionals working with visual content: photographers, designers, architects, video editors. For this tutorial, we’ll use a ConceptD CP3 27-inch professional monitor (3271U) with WQHD (2560 × 1440) resolution.

What makes a professional monitor different? Accurate color reproduction. Here, the color rejection coefficient Delta E <2, that is, the ConceptD CP3 is able to reproduce colors with sufficient accuracy for professional work.

Why are layers needed?

If you made appliqués as a child, then the principle of work of layers in Photoshop will be clear to you: layers with different images and adjustments are superimposed on each other, each of them can be selected and corrected. A simple example when you can’t do without working with layers: how to cut out an object from a photo and place it on a white background? Let’s try to do this, and at the same time get acquainted with the basic tools.

The task is to place the gnome figurine on a white background. First you need to select the object. Select the Object Selection Tool, an artificial intelligence based selection tool. He tries to recognize the object and highlight it. Works faster than others, but not always flawlessly accurate, so the selection often requires user adjustments. Draw a rectangle around the gnome, and the program will select it along the outline.

To work separately with the object, separately with the background, the gnome must be placed on a new layer. Right click on it and select Layer Via Copy. A layer has appeared on which there is only an image of the selected object.

The new layer is displayed in the Layers panel. Please note that the panels in Photoshop can be freely moved, closed, added those that are not on the screen. Therefore, your interface may look different. The Layers panel can be easily displayed via Menu → Window → Layers. You can also open any other panel.

When the object is on a new layer, the background can be made invisible by clicking on the eye icon. The object is now on a checkered background. This is conventionally designated transparency. Several image formats (PNG, TIFF, and GIF) support transparency. If we save the picture in them, the transparency will remain, and if, for example, in JPEG, instead of transparency there will be a white background.

The red arrow marks the button for creating a new layer, the green one is the new layer, the blue one is the Paint Bucket Tool, which can be used to make a solid fill with color.

Let’s make a white background? Create a new layer and use the Fill tool to paint it white.

So, the background is filled in. But where is the gnome? Please note: the fill layer is located above the gnome. It means that he blocked everything that is below. It is necessary to place the background with white color below the layer with the object.

Done, leprechaun on a white background. We can place the subject anywhere by adding a suitable photo layer.

Adjustment Layers

Besides the layers containing this or that image, Photoshop also has Adjustment Layers. With them, we can add one or another correction on a separate layer. Let’s make the whole image black and white and only the gnome remains in color. Find the Adjustments panel and click on the Hue / Saturation icon. It is a tool for adjusting the hue and saturation of colors. We are already familiar with how it works: HSL tools have been encountered in Lightroom. Note that the same action in Photoshop can be done in different ways. Even in our simple case, there are other solutions, and experts can share their methods in the comments.

To create a Hue / Saturation adjustment layer, find the Adjustments panel, and in it – the icon highlighted in the screenshot with a yellow frame.

Set Saturation down to -100 for simplicity. This will make the frame black and white. There are now two ways. You can move the adjustment layer under the gnome layer. Then the gnome will remain in color, and the background will become black and white.

And you can use the mask of the adjustment layer, make it so that the layer does not affect the entire frame, but only on its individual parts. This is more interesting.

Move the adjustment layer back to the very top. Select the white rectangle to the left of the layer name. This is a layer mask. While it is entirely white, opaque. We need to make sure that there is a “hole” in the layer mask in place of the gnome. You can take the Eraser tool and erase part of the mask, or use a black brush. Result: There is a

“hole”, but we could not accurately depict the gnome, so a colored spot appeared around it. Such a result will not work for us. In the History panel, rewind a few steps back to return the layer mask to its original position.

Hold down the CTRL key and click once on the preview on the gnome layer. This will make it stand out.

Now select the adjustment layer and go to its mask. Just press the Delete key. This will remove the area corresponding to the selection shape from the mask. And through it a colored gnome will be seen. Now, use the CTRL + D keyboard shortcut to remove the selection.

Now select the adjustment layer and go to its mask. Just press the Delete key. This will remove the area corresponding to the selection shape from the mask. And through it a colored gnome will be seen. Now, use the CTRL + D keyboard shortcut to remove the selection.

The background layer (Background) with the original image is also not needed. Let’s delete it in another way. Select the layer with the castle door, right-click on the layer name and select Merge Down. The layer we selected will merge with the one below it. There is also a Flatten Image command, it merges all layers together. This should be done when you are one hundred percent satisfied with the result and are sure that you do not have to go back to correcting one of the layers.

If we use the “native” Photoshop formats (PSD, PSB) to save, the file will be saved together with the layers, and in the future we will be able to work with them. PSD (PSB) is a “container” where you can place both pictures, and vector graphics, and inscriptions, and all this will be available for processing. TIFF has limited compatibility with layers. Note that the more layers, the more hard disk space the file will take. The JPEG format does not support layers, but it has a small size. Usually photographers save the source in PSD or TIFF format and a JPEG copy (usually reduced) for publication on the web.

Using the gnome as an example, we’ve covered the basic properties and techniques for working with layers and masks. Now let’s talk about the practical aspects.

Layer Optimization and Safety

Often, processing goes so far that the photographer or designer has dozens of layers. How not to get lost among them? The issue is especially acute if it is assumed that the file will be processed collectively. Here are some guidelines for organizing your work with layers.

Give the layers a name. Double click on the current name of the layer, and you can enter your own.

Organize your layers into folders. The icon for creating a folder is at the bottom of the Layers panel. You can create an empty folder or select several layers and click the folder icon – then the layers we selected will immediately appear in it. For folders, you can create your own masks, and in general they behave the same way as layers.

Make color marks. To quickly navigate the layers, color their icons in different colors. Let’s give a red color cue to the gnome layer so we don’t lose it.

Before merging the layers, create a snapshop in the history. Unlike Lightroom, Photoshop does not work on the principle of non-destructive processing: it is not always possible to undo one or another correction. And you won’t be able to reset processing to the very beginning, for example, if you save the file, close the program, and then open it again. If so, we must insure ourselves against possible mistakes. Merging all the layers, do not forget to click on the camera icon in the History panel, this will create a snapshot. This is a point in history that you can always return to. Snapshots have only one drawback – if you close the file, it will not be saved.

We used the ConceptD CP3 with the powerfulworkstation ConceptD CT-500. Together they form a tandem for very serious graphics work. However, an external monitor will also come in handy for laptop owners. The diagonal of the laptop display is not always sufficient for retouching. Connecting a laptop to a large and high-quality monitor, which can be the ConceptD CP3, is a good idea (considering that most photographers work with the most affordable laptops: they may have acceptable hardware, but in this segment the manufacturer saves on displays). Monitors are practically never outdated, this is a long-term investment.

Among the important features of the ConceptD CP3 is the hood. This is an attribute of professional grade displays. It protects the image on the screen from glare, which improves contrast and color accuracy. The hood can be easily removed and installed. And at the top it has a special door through which the calibrator can be brought to the display. However, out of the box, the monitor has excellent color reproduction, as evidenced by the Pantone Validated certificate. All ConceptD displays (and laptops too) have it.

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