All Posts in Behind the PSD!

March 2, 2015 - No Comments!

Behind the PSD! – The Crashing Wave

crashing wave

Here is a recent edit of mine of a crashing wave against the rocks near Coolangatta, Queensland Australia. The aim of this edit was to try and retain as much highlight detail as possible on the edge of the wave.

Camera - 5dmk2 with a Canon F2.8 70-200mm IS Lens
Exposure - F9 1/160th of a second 200ISO


• I processed the original raw file in Aperture and reduced the highlight exposure by -1.5 stops. It was then opened up in Photoshop and processed using a process action.
• The sharpening layer was removed from the layer setup; the highlight curve was  set to +10%; the shadows were set +25% and the midtones were increased by +15%. The normal clean and boost layers were to their default values.
• I used my apply image method to darken the respective highlight information, it was then selectively masked and and limited to the highlights using Blend If.
• I then performed a stamp visible layer ((Command/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + E) and I applied a level of midtone contrast of Clarity +100. This was then targeted to only the highlights.
• A merged layer apply image set to multiply was then used to create a natural vignette and give more contrast separation to the edge of the wave.
• Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher
• An Appropriate level of noise was added to the image.

 crashing wave before and after
Before / After

March 1, 2015 - No Comments!

Behind the PSD! – Grade for HAN

Grade for Han

Here is a recent grade of my recent fashion shoot with HAN. The aim of this grade (edit) of this image was to seperate the difference of contrast between the model and the background.


Camera - 5dmk2 with a Canon F2.8 16-35mm Lens
Exposure - F6.3 @ 1/125 second 100ISO


• The image was initially processed using Aperture. It was then opened in photoshop and processed using a workflow action designed specifically for this job.
• A blank layer was used to clean up both the tape on the floor (as a marker for the model to stand on) as well as the electrical piping that ran across the wall. A simple method of stamping the layer and selecting a good piece of wall or floor detail, moving it into place over the area and then selectively masked to hide the issue.
My grunge action was used to create a soft monochromatic grade across the image, the layer was set to softlight blending mode and 50% opacity layer opacity.
• I used a channel mixer adjustment layer set to 50% R, 50% G on the Red Channel and 50% G, 50% B on the blue channel to desaturate the image. It was the targeted to the shadows using Blend If
• A levels adjustment was set to 60% opacity with 32, 224 set respectively for the output levels. This adjustment layer created a light haze over the image.
• A solid colour #4b4b4b was set to 30% opacity and set to Lighten Blending mode. Both of these two layers were grouped together and masked so that it only affected the background.
• A 15% Highlight adjustment curve was added to give the highlights some added contrast.
• The layer stack was then stamp merged visible using the shortcut (Command/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + E) and I applied a level of midtone contrast of Clarity +60. This was then targeted to only the highlights. The layer was then set to 50% opacity.
• Finally a blank layer was used to clean up the imperfections on the model face.
• All of the layers were then grouped inside a folder and then masked at 50% density. The model therefore is only being affected at 50% and the background is being completely adjusted.

han layer stack 2han layer stack


Before / After

March 1, 2015 - No Comments!

Behind the PSD! – A Portrait of Keith


Here is a recent edit of my portrait of Keith during the SP Lager Campaign over in PNG. I edited this image using my photoshop abilities to create a natural portrait given the extreme dynamic range of the original image.

Camera - 5dmk2 with a Canon F2.8 24-70 Lens
Exposure - F4 @ 1/500second 200ISO


• Create an appropriate balance of tonal ranges, fix the blown highlight detail and open up the shadow information.
• Used my apply image method to open or dodge Keith's face. I was able to subtly mask this onto his face and open up the shadow information. The next stage was use another apply image method to multiply the highlights and re-introduce the original sky and colour to the blown highlight detail.
• I repeated the dodge apply image method twice to create a soft transition still on Keith's face.
• Another multiply apply image layer was used to purely limit and reduce all of the highlight detail. The layer was limited to the highlights only by Blend If.
• The layer stack was then stamp merged visible using the shortcut (Command/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + E) and I applied a level of midtone contrast of Clarity +100. This was then targeted to only the highlights.
• Finally an auto levels adjustment was used to bring up the exposure of the image, it was sharpened using the Facebook Powertools and appropriate noise was added to the image.

keith before and after
Before / After

January 8, 2015 - 1 comment.

Behind the PSD! – The State Law Building in Brisbane

The state law building brisbane _brockmcfadzean

Here is a recent edit of mine of the State Law building in Brisbane, Australia. It was photographed earlier this year using my iphone5, during my lunchtime break. I wanted to re-edit this image using my Photoshop knowledge and apply some nice tonal ranges for my black and white conversion process.

Camera - Iphone 5.


• Creating an appropriate channel of contrast to determine the overall tonal value and range of my black and white conversion. Apply this to a single layer above the background set to Luminosity blending mode.
• Selective colour adjustments to increase the cyan and blue values to add more contrast to the sky.
• Black and white solid colour layer set to colour (black and white conversion).
• A overall 10% highlight increase in a curve.
• Selectively darkening using curves the right hand side of the building and selectively brightening using curves on specific lines of the main building.
• A gradient map fill to accent a vignette to give more depth to the image.
• Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher
• Added noise to the image.



Before / After

January 5, 2015 - No Comments!

Behind the PSD! – A portrait of Cesar Casier


It is quite amazing to see how you dictate your vision....endless possibilities and choices of simply changing a simple view of how you edit your image. This particular thought was about how light can effect an image and mood. This natural light image was a (Behind the Scenes) photo whilst I was assisting a photographer late 2013. Quite amazing to see the change of direction of where it came from.

Camera - Canon 1D-x with a 24-70mm F2.8 Lens
Exposure - 35mm at F4, 1/125th of a second.


Cesar - Original Image

Original Image
The Original image was opened in Photoshop and I generated a variety of Zone Masks to see the luminosity of each zone mask/channel*. This is ultimately to create the appropriate channels and determine the overall tonal values and range for the image.

Zone 10 - The darkest possible zone of highlight information. Very little detail in the eyes or the right side of the face.


Zone 9 - Slightly lighter then Zone 10, however starting to have more detail in the skin.

Zone 8 - Lighter then both Zone 9 and 10, ability to see more detail within the eyes.

Zones 8, 9 and 10 were selectively masked with each other to bring out the appropriate amount of light. Ability to merge each layer

I used the healing brush to clean up any minor blemishes or imperfections to the image.

Some minor Dodge and Burning to remove the unwanted bumps and scratches on the forehead, and reduce the light inconsistencies that are present on the face.

Removal of the earphones using the clone brush.
Skin adjustment using an Inverted High Pass Adjustment to reduce the transitions of light on the skin.

More dodging and burning was required to even out the subtleties to the skin.

Dodged the upper and lower lips and eyes. Selectively masked in some hair detail

I refined the dodging and burning to create shape (a 3-dimensionsal structure to the face).

Adding more highlights and shadows to the face, opening up the eyes and refining the light fall off.

Final Dodge and Burn to clean up the image.

Final tweaks to the image included adding Mid-tone Clarity adjustment using (Adobe Camera Raw) detail to the image only targeted to the Mid-tones and Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher. I also added noise to the image.

Before / After

January 5, 2015 - 1 comment.

Behind the PSD! – Titanic Museum – Belfast. Northern Ireland


This image was photographed at the Titanic Musueum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Camera - Iphone 5.


1. To create a really simple high contrast black and white image.
2. Utilise channels efficiently to produce the desired contrast.
3. Add an appropriate vignette to help focus the viewers attention and create more depth within the image.


Step 1. Import the original square iphone image into Photoshop CC2014.

IMG_2988-originalOriginal Image

Step 2. Select the appropriate channel to edit the luminosity of the image. As this image is already monochromatic, it only gives you two main options for your choice. Both the composite channel of RGB (or known as grey) as well as the individual channels of red, green, blue which will all be the same value. There is a slight difference between the RGB and the Individual channels.
*Please note that you do have to have the Channels palette open to view your channels within your image. Simply go to File > Window > Channels to display the channel palette if you can't find it.

Step 3. Once the channel is selected decide how you wish to edit the contrast of the Channel. You can use any method of adding contrast to your channel (curves, levels, brightness/contrast methods), I simply used my method of Apply Image to both darken and brighten the contrast of the channel.

Original Image, Selected the RGB (Grey) Channel - Multiplied x 3 using Apply Image


Same Channel Selected, Inverted the Channel or Selection - Multiplied x 3 using Apply Image


The Inverted Channel of the Last Selection; The combined effect of (6) multiply adjustments only using Apply Image

Step 4. Once the combined channel has been created. I copied this channel onto its own individual layer within the layer stack.
*A useful shortcut I use is by pressing Command/Ctrl + A (select all) then Command/Ctrl + C (copy), Create a new layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N) and then to (paste) Command/Ctrl + V.

Step 5. To create a selective vignette using the gradient fill adjustment layer.


This Gradient Fill was set to Reflected, 128Degrees and with Reverse enabled.

Step 6. Using the combined channel as a mask for a curve adjustment layer. (exactly the same channel as per step 3).


This adjustment performed through the combined mask, subtly lifts boost the highlight information.

Step 7. Created a noise layer using the Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension.


Before / After

January 5, 2015 - No Comments!

BEHIND THE PSD! – A portrait of Paul Giggle.


This recent portrait of Paul was photographed when I was assisting him in Milan late last year for his 12 Natural Wonders 2015 Campaign. I wanted to create a natural light portrait of him, showing the depth and qualities of light within the location. This image was captured using only available light with his Lecia S2.

Camera - Lecia S2
Exposure - F2.8, 80mm Contax lens, 1/90th sec, ISO 320

paul-giggle---originalOriginal Image


All of my raw files are imported into Aperture 3 for Raw processing. I specifically use Aperture 3 for two main reasons (1) To be able to reduce exposure for the highlights and retain the most amount of detail (2) colour temperature; how the software actually treats my raw file as a base and determine what my "colour temperature" will be. The raw image file was imported into Aperture 3. The image of Paul is slightly overexposed however it doesn't appear to have any highlight clipping warnings. I changed my exposure adjustments of my file to -1.0 recovering nearly all of the blown highlight detail on his face.

paul-giggle---exposureExposure Adjustments Only

The image was then exported as a 8Bit file .PSD file and imported into Photoshop CC 2014 for the remaining bulk of processing and retouching.


With regards to the final outcome of the editing, I typically design or create specific outcomes depending on the image. For this particular image, I wanted to create a very high contrast black and white effect to the portrait. With this in mind, I have to create an appropriate edit with several considerations:

1. Choose a suitable black and white conversion method which is appropriate. Does it give enough contrast to the image? Does it allow you to edit selectively or adjust any particular regions within the image?
2. Does the image require any further refinements? Do you need to even out the skin in terms of lighting? Do you need to edit the skin in any way? Are there any refinements needed to be made?
3. What is the chosen output size of the image? Do I require the image to be printed or is it simply used for web?

With these considerations in mind, I am now able to refine and create the desired outcome.


Step 1. The image was imported into Photoshop CC2014.

Step 2. The image was then processed using my latest Film Styles Action. I selected the Kodak Technidol preset within the action set. This action created the suitable contrast that I desired for my black and white conversion.

1. grade

Step 3. I then added a Grunge Effect set to Multiply blending mode (set to 60% opacity) to reduce the amount of highlight information within the image.

2 grunge and clean

Step 4. I edited an appropriate channel by darkening the highlights using my Generate Highlights action. This selected the luminosity of the image and closed it down by 2 stops. This was selectively masked onto the image. The Blend-if sliders were also adjusted to target the highlights only. If you are not familiar with the use of Blend-if, you can read more about how to effectively use Blend-if Sliders here.

Step 5. I cleaned up the image by removing the dirt from his jacket using the Healing brush. I performed this adjustment using the new Retouching Toolkit by Conny Wallstrom.

Step 6. A selective brighten curve adjustment with an inverted channel as a layer mask, was applied so that it acted like a Digital Reflector. This allowed any adjustment when applied, to selectively brighten any shadow information. As you can see this was selectively applied to the eyes to create better depth in the portrait.

Step 7. A similar adjustment as stage (6) was applied for the iris.

Step 8. I used the Retouching Toolkit to generate a variety of appropriate Dodge and Burning layers to even out the transitions of the skin.

3. d&b

Step 9. I felt the image needed to refine some of the mid-tone contrast. I simply used the camera raw filter as an adjustment layer, applied some Clarity to the image to bring out this mid-tone contrast detail. The layer was then set to 60% opacity and split using Blend-if so that it only filters through the midtones.

4. detail

Step 10. The next step in my workflow was to use my custom sharpening method which I originally learnt from Guy Gowan. It has been adjusted to suit my preferences when working with my files and has the ability to sharpen the highlights and shadows independently.

Step 11. One of my final steps within my workflow is to add a level of noise or grain to my images. This was created using the camera raw filter and applying grain to the image.

Step 12.Lastly the PSD was saved to my appropriate backup hard-drive and a copy of the high res image was exported out onto facebook using the Facebook Powertools.


5. Before and After - Paul
Before / After