Tennessee Horse

This article will describe how I took the original photo, captured in 2008, an processed it to obtain the image shown below.

Tennesee Horse - Final Image

Tennesee Horse – Final image from 2008

The original image was opened in Adobe Camera Raw and some overall adjustments were made to the brightness and contrast.  This is always the first step in image editing.

Original Image

Original Image

Next the background layer was duplicated, and the duplicated layer  was taken into Nik Viveza 2, which allows selective adjustments to different parts of the image.  Local control points were placed at the 4 corners of the image, and the brightness was decreased slightly.  Control points were then placed on the horse in 3 locations to selectively increase the structure of the horse.   The structure on the fluff of the tail was almost maxed out.  On returning to Photoshop, the layer was automatically labelled “Viveza 2.”  

After Viveza 2

This layer was then taken into Color Efex Pro 4 and the “Classic Soft Focus” filter was applied with the settings modified to taste.  Then the “White Neutralizer” filter was applied to eliminate most of the blue cast on the horse.  Once it was back in Photoshop, the layer name was shortened to “Efex.”

After Color Efex Pro with "Classic Soft Focus"

After Color Efex Pro with “Classic Soft Focus”

The horse in the image above appeared a little dark, so  a curve layer was added to the top of the stack.  The mid point of the curve was dragged diagonally by about one grid unit (I always use the 10×10 grid for curves) which lightened up the image by the equivalent of about one f-stop.  The layer was named “Horse and Foliage” and the mask was filled with black.  Then I took a medium sized, very soft brush set at 10% opacity, and painted in over the horse and foliage underneath the horses head.  I did this repeatedly until I got the lightening effect I was after.

Levels Layer

Levels Layer

The overall image appeared a little dark, so I next added a levels layer and renamed it to “Brighten.”  I brought the rightmost bar in until the box read 229, and moved the middle bar over until its box read 1.40.  The opacity of this layer was set to 60%.  This layer brightened the image and increase the contrast a little.

Finally, I wanted to add a vignette so that the center part of the image appeared brighter than the rest.  While the “Brightnen” layer was highlighted, I used the elliptical marquis to draw an oval around the horse.  With the selection made, I hit CTRL-T to go into free transform and adjusted the size and position of the oval, then hit ENTER to accept the change.  While the selection was still active, I added a curve adjustment layer which added a mask with the selection in white and the rest of the mask black.  I clicked on the mask and inverted it by hitting CTRL-SHIFT-I, and then renamed the layer as “Vignette.”

All but vignette

All but vignette

Vignette Curve

Vignette Curve

With the “Vignette” layer selected, the upper right hand point of the curve in the ADJUSTMENTS tab was dragged down by 3 units, which darkened the edges of the image.  Next the MASKS tab was selected and both the Density & Feathersliders were set all the way to the right.

I still thought a little more feathering of the mask was needed, so I CTRL-Clicked on the “Vignette” mask to generate a selection, and then went into SELECT-REFINE EDGE from the menu and feathered the selection some more.  Once I clicked OK, I made sure the layer mask was still selected and filled the selection with white.

The image was saved, then flattened and reduced to an 800 pixel wide image, and then sharpened for the web with NiK Sharpener Pro 2.  All that was left was to add the copyright and borders in my usual way.

Final Image with vignette.

Final Image with vignette.

About clayandali
Trained as a research chemist, but have been involved with Entrepreneurship for over 30 years. I have been involved in photography for 41 years. Ali is a graduate of the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton, OH. She loves both portrait and landscape work.

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