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a guide to digital


Portrait of an artist

Working with B/W negatives needn't be limiting. Here is a favourite photograph of my father which could do with a contemporary lift.

Scan the negative or print, then in Photoshop change the mode to RGB;  Image > Mode > RGB Color. Convert the image to a Layer, by double clicking the Background layer on the Layers palette.

Duplicate this layer by dragging it down to the Create New Layer icon (icon next to the trash can at bottom of layers palette).

Apply a 6 pixel radius Gaussian blur to the Copy layer and click OK. Set the Opacity of the blurred layer to approx. 80. Select the Eraser tool and erase key parts such as the face and hands, or any other detail that you want to be clearly visible. Use a large soft brush of about 100 pixels for greater effect - the size will vary depending on your image size.

Press Ctrl+F to apply more Gaussian blur with the same pixel radius values (at this stage you may want to erase some more of the blur layer). Select the Eraser tool again and on the Options bar enter a opacity of 40% for a lighter touch to the erasing.

To bring back detail in the background, reduce the opacity of the blur layer. When you are satisfied with the blur and selective sharpen effect, flatten the image. Layer > Flatten Image.

To add some colour to the overall image press Ctrl+U to open the Hue & Saturation panel.  Check the colorize box and adjust the sliders to your preferred colours. For the sample image we selected values of 40 Hue, 10 Saturation and -5 lightness.

This method of creating selective sharpening and soft focus can be used with most imaging software that supports layers or objects. ( Photoshop users can also achieve a similar result using the history brush and one layer).

For a finishing touch we have added an Extensis Photo Frame to the picture.

This page is dedicated to my father Stanley Oliver 1926 - 1999

January 5, 2008

© Vincent Oliver 2008
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