Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Softer more Mysterious Side

Most of the time we photographers are obsessive about sharpness.  We like those images to be razor sharp...clear and bright...distinct and amazing.  Well...sometimes sharp isn't necessarily the best approach.  There is a post processing technique you can use that is very simple to do that will often turn an ordinary looking image into something extraordinary and can add an element of mystery to your photograph...It's called:  High Pass Softening.  Here are the steps I use in Photoshop Elements 6 to accomplish this.  The process may differ slightly depending on which version of Photoshop you may be using, but they should be pretty close to the same as this.

First of all open your photo in Elements.  Then create a Duplicate Background layer by clicking on the Layers drop down at the top and selecting Duplicate.

Next click on the Filter drop down and move your cursor down to Other then over and select High Pass.  When the High Pass window opens move the Slider to the right until the number reaches somewhere between 40 and 60.  Just how much you use depends on how much softening you want...experiment and see what works best for that particular image.  Then click OK.

Now on the right side of the page click the drop down list in the Layers will probably have Normal in the window...and then click on Overlay.

After clicking and hold the CNTL key and press I...for Inverse.  Your image should turn an indistinct blur.

From the Tools window on the left side of the screen select the Eraser tool and from the Brush drop down select a brush type that shows a soft edge.  Set the Opacity to about 60%...but you can use more or less if you want to...and set the brush tool size to something between 80 and 100 pixels...again you can use more or less.

Using the Eraser brush you can now paint over any portion of the image you want to sharpen or to return a portion of the softened image to a normal state...

Wah Lah!

Another Before

Another After

You now have an image that has been softened...but now has a mysterious look to it.

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