Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Fences - 7/17/14, Photo-Heart Connection - 8/1/14: "Early Evening Farm"

Good Fences Thursday challenges us to post an image of a fence or gate each week.

I've been experimenting with trying to make my images look like HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. The way HDR is usually done is by using a tripod to take 3 photos, setting one to be slightly overexposed, one underexposed, and one exposed normally. Some cameras can take those three photos and pull the details from the lightest, darkest, and mid-range areas to give you one image with dynamic detail. If your camera can't do that, then some software can do it for you using your 3 photos.

Frankly, I hate carrying a tripod around with me and I just don't have the patience to change settings and take three shots.

Luckily for me, there are ways to "fake" HDR in Photoshop by using only one photo. 
If you want to try it yourself, use the instructions below the photo.
Photo-Heart Connection: (addendum added 8/3/14) at the beginning of each new month, we are asked to choose one image we worked on during the previous month that has a special meaning for us, something close to our hearts.

I chose the photo below to represent the month of July for several reasons:  
1. I like the photo of the local farm which I pass frequently.  
2. I like farms, especially dairy farms.  I love the concept of a farm house and barn sitting in the middle of land that is worked by it's occupants, even though it's not the life for me. (Being a night-owl, I want nothing to do with pre-dawn chores.) 
3. I like cows.  They are fairly large creatures, yet are non-violent ones.  They seem to be content with chewing their cuds and making milk in a lackadaisical stupor.  Yet they are smart enough to find their way to the milking parlor and go to their own assigned stalls each day. I love cows' large soulful eyes.

However, my chief reason is:
4. This farm is surrounded by what is rapidly becoming "McMansion Heaven." I like that the dairy farmer has ---at least so far ---resisted selling off his land to create more huge, overpriced homes.  

Have you ever noticed that those communities are all named for things that have been destroyed to build them?   "Indian Meadow" hasn't an Indian nor a meadow in sight.  "Treesdale" used to be a huge apple orchard ---no apple trees survive there.  "Washington Farms" was built on farmland owned by someone named Washington, but crops and pastures are gone and all the Washington's have moved from their land. "Shady Creek" has few trees to keep it shady and the creek was diverted to an underground culvert.  

I used to, work in an industrial park called "Cranberry Woods" in Cranberry Township, PA. Three buildings and their parking lots were surrounded by acres and acres of trees.  I often saw deer and other wildlife from the back windows.  In the six years I worked there, the land was cleared for a hotel, three more office buildings, and accompanying parking lots.  Then a huge corporation cleared twice that much land to build a new complex and "For Lease" signs appeared on remaining wooded land.  Instead of "Cranberry Woods," it should now be called "Cranberry Clear-Cut." Besides being more truthful, the alliteration is almost catchy. 
"Early Evening Farm"
Dairy Farm in Western PA
created by using "fake" HDR

After doing the last step (adding Ink Outlines) I erased them from
the sky (I didn't like the tiny black lines there) and then I slightly lightened the sky.
(click on image for larger view)
I prefer this method for creating fake HDR.
Follow these steps in Photoshop to try it yourself:

Note: the slider levels I used worked well on my photo. You can change those to look best on your image.
•Make your normal enhancements to correct levels, color, etc.
•Make a duplicate of that image
•On the duplicate: Go to Image> Adjustments> Shadows/Highlights
•Make sure Preview is checked so you will be able to see the changes on your screen
•Move the slider bars as follows:
        Shadows, Amount: 100%
        Highlights, Amount: 100%
        Midtone Contrast: between 80 and 100%.
        Tonal Width: 30% on both Shadows and Highlights 
Make adjustments up or down as you see fit.
Note: when you move one slider it will look terrible until you move other sliders.
•Hit OK when satisfied, then make more adjustments (lightness, saturation, etc.) if needed. At this point, you can do the optional step or, if you think the effect is "too much" lower the opacity so the layer below it shows through ---adjust until it looks right to you.
Optional step:
•Make a duplicate of that layer while in full 100% opacity.
•Make sure black is your foreground color and white your background color.
•Go to Filter Gallery
•Choose Brush strokes, then Ink Outlines.
You can play with the settings. I set mine at - Stroke length: 4, Dark intensity: 20, Light intensity: 10
•After hitting OK, change the opacity on that layer (I suggest 40 to 60%) and make other adjustments, if needed.  You can also change the opacity on the previous layer, if you want.
If your photo has a sky, you might want to erase the Ink Outlines from it ---they give the sky a lined texture that I don't like. Anything that is supposed to be smooth and light might need to have the lines erased. Or if you don't like the ink outlines, hide or delete that layer, or make it more transparent,  or click on control Z to undo.

Alternate method: In the latest version (Photoshop CC) you can go to Image> Adjustment> HDR toning and play with the possibilities there. (I'm not sure which was the first Photoshop version with this option. If your version doesn't have it, try using the instructions for the method I prefer, above.)

This is what my image looked like on the
layer where I worked with Shadows/Highlights.
You may chose to leave your image like this,
but I wanted to bring out more details and
make it a bit darker, so I went on to create
a layer using Ink Outlines (the image above)

but erased them from the sky.
This is what my original looked like after
a few 
enhancements.  I like this normal

photo image, but I'm always trying to
learn new techniques ---and pass them on.


eileeninmd said...

The fake HDR is cool! Wonderful fence shots. Have a great day!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Now you are very clever and I would love to do all that editing if I had the time. Your finished shots looks more like a painting and the first shot more like a photograph. You have explained it very well however at present it is a bit over my head but maybe someday I will understand it all. Thanks anyway for all the information.

TexWisGirl said...

it's a neat effect, but i really love the light in the original image. :) thanks for linking!

Sandra said...

all three are beautiful, i think i like the first one best. i have not tried this in photoshop, but will. i do my fake HDR in PicMonkey and love how it makes them look

Andrea @ From The Sol said...

You are so kind to share your techniques and I love this picture. I feel like I have been there (lived on a farm as a youngster) and it brought back a flood of memories. You do such beautiful work and who would think you could make a masterpiece out of a fence :) Thank you CJ.

Andrea @ From The Sol

Felicia said...

it's a great image anyway.

Felicia said...

Went back and looked again and I really like this image.

FAB said...

Interesting post production but I personally prefer the original.

Pat said...

It's a lovely rural scene.

Carola Bartz said...

I like the effect of the fake HDR. Thank you for the instructions, I'll try that out - too tempting!

GranthamLynn said...

Great post. Thanks for the tips.

Tanya Breese said...

very creative!

Anonymous said...

This is awesome folk art!

Anonymous said...

i admire the worked-on image. but i love the original one. and appreciate very much the thoughtful post.

seabluelee said...

I love your little essay on the irony of those place names. I hate to see rural countryside gobbled up by commercial development. I'm so glad you're capturing images of that lovely farm while it's still there.

Sarah Huizenga said...

We have many old vintage cottages near us that get torn down and replace by McMansions that people only live in in the summer months. Definitely a pet peeve of mine. I hope more farmers hang on to the beauty of the land.

gina said...

I like your Photoshop processing -- your image really looks like a painting! Thanks for sharing your techniques. Yes, it is so sad that open land is being gobbled up for development. We all need to see forests, brooks, and meadows for relaxation and mental health. Bravo to the farmer who is holding on to his farm.

Kmcblackburn said...

Interesting and fun edit..thanks for sharing your technique. Western PA has some beautiful scenery for sure!

Louisette said...

Lovely effect on rural scene