Photoshop can be a powerful asset on any photographer’s tool belt. Every photographer has their own particular workflow and incorporates Photoshop into that in their own way. A technique that works well for you in your particular situation might not be the best solution for another. The fact is, though, that Photoshop is an essential resource in today’s media-driven world.
Recently, thanks to one of our editors, we were given the U.S.’s only Volkswagen Scirocco R. This third-generation Scirocco, only sold in Europe, has come a long way from its predecessors that started back in the mid 70’s. And what better way to demonstrate some Photoshop techniques than on this rare ride. I decided to just take it down to our local beach, where I can get a good base image to start with and go from there.
After doing some straightening in Camera Raw and bringing it into Photoshop, I start with a cleaning layer. In this layer I take out anything I don’t want or add elements that I feel need to be there. For example, in this image the front fog light cowl went missing and needed to be added later in post. I removed that part from one image, then warped, stretched, and added it to this photo. Along with the missing car parts being added, a multitude of trash and dust specs were removed. Now, with a clean image, I start to make selections of all the elements in the image in order to work on specific areas without affecting the entire image. I quartered this particular shot off into five different segments; the sky, water, sand, concrete, and the car itself. Although the vehicle is usually segmented into its own pieces like headlights, wheels, windows, etc. It all depends on how particular you want to get and where you want to take your image visually. The first thing I want to do is drop in a different sky. The one in the original image is cloudless and lacking any emotion or contrast, so I grab one from my archives that gives a good center weight to the image while adding the emotion I’m looking for.
Now is when the layers really start to accumulate, adding color correction and contrast layers to each segment until I get the desired affect. After my image is where I want it visually, the last thing I do to all of my images is a sharpening layer. You would hate to spend all that time creating something you like just to have it soft when it comes to its sharpness. After the image is finished, all I need to do is save to the correct format and enjoy.
This was just one brief example of how I use Photoshop in my workflow and how I approached this particular image. Every time I sit down to edit it’s a different experience with its own set of challenges. As long as I have the creativity and how-to knowledge of this program, Photoshop will be an essential tool that I will continually use to my advantage.