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.

F-4 Phantom

F-4 Phantom
F-4 Phantom

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Make Your Subject Stand Out

The young lady sat on the edge of a low-water bridge, with her feet dangling over the edge, tossing a few stones into the creek. Catch lights were infiltrating through the long strands of her blond hair creating natural highlights photographers love to use. She wore a light pink thin sweater and a lacy skirt that covered off-white tights, all of which tended to blend with the pale surface of the bridge. Although the scene setup was perfect, the lighting was marginal and it required a bit of touchup to make it work. (click on each image to get a closer look)

Using a single speedlight to fill in the shadows on her face, the image was snapped and eventually loaded into Photoshop Elements. Out of the camera it wasn't bad, a bit dull requiring a tweak of brightness and exposure compensation to bring the lighting back to within more normal limits. Doing so helped, but it needed something else. My subject needed to be separated from the background to create a more pleasing composition and dramtic light arrangement.

Although there are numerous ways to accomplish this requirement, some in camera and some post processing, I'm going to describe a simple way to separate your subject just enough to make them stand out.

First thing to do is to go ahead and make all of your normal post processing exposure tweaks. Things like brightness, contrast, color correction, get the idea. Once all of those tweaks are done we begin the process to separate your subject. The primary tool we use is the Lasso tool. You will want to set the feathering setting to around 20 pixels, then gently and loosely draw an outline around your subject. You do not have to be real precise, but try to stay fairly close to the edges of your subject.

After completing the initial outline, you will need to click on the Select drop down and click on INVERSE. This will select everything outside the perimeter of the outline you just drew. Now click on Enhance, Lighting, then Levels and depending on the make up of your image you will need to slide the Middle Tone Slider to the right a few clicks. This will begin to darken the background. Do not overdo it, just darken it enough to allow your subject to stand out.

Once you have completed that step to your satisfaction, click on Select again and Inverse once more. This will return you to the original outline. You can if you need to, boost your subjects brightness just a few points, then move the Lasso cursor off the page and click to turn it off. Your image now takes on a deeper, richer, more dramatic look.  It's that easy.

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