Recently Yael, from Feet from Shore asked use which one would we choose in 2 versions of a self portrait. I liked the color one better as it was warmer and I also like my Black and White to be darker and contrasted. On both however there were some distracting elements in my opinion. I asked Yael if she was ok with me trying to edit these and below is my attempt at editing her portrait.

Original from Yael - Color

Original from Yael – Color

1. Straighten out: The tilted effect creates some dynamism but I’m not really fond of it. In PS CS6 I selected the ruler from the eye dropper tool group and used it on the frame of the door. Next Image–> Image Rotation –> Arbitrary. I used the cropping tool to remove most of the empty spaces created and got the below picture.

Edit - Step 1

Edit – Step 1

2. Filling the empty spaces: On the spaces left, I used a combination of Fill with Content Aware, Clone Stamp Tool, Healing Tool and straight out copies of existing sections

Edit - Step 2

Edit – Step 2

3. Removing the focus: There are a lot of elements that are catching attention here: door, white bloc, stuff on the floor.One reason they are so eye catcher is that they are very close to a dark area. A quick way to address that is by darkening it. To do that go to Layer –> New Adjustment Layer –> Exposure. I used -2 here. As I don’t want to darken all the picture I will add a layer mask. You use a mask to reveal or hide some sections of the picture. I painted the mask black with the bucket and then painted white on the areas I wanted the Exposure layer to be applied.

Step 3

Step 3

Mask for Step 3

Mask for Step 3

4. Removing the focus (again): I was still not really happy with the door handles and found that the blocks were still a minor distraction. I merged the previous layers with Command+E. I then used some copies to remove most of the focus grabbing stuff.

Edit - Step 4

Edit – Step 4

At this point I realized that what I really wanted to do was to remove the door. For this I created a new layer, and painted it black with a brush and a layer mask to keep the signature. I think I do prefer with the empty space. It even allowed me to move the signature easily later on.

Edit - Step 4 - Without Door

Edit – Step 4 – Without Door

[UPDATE] Should have seen this earlier, but Yael pointed out to me that she would have preferred a unified White background. Before her comment it didn’t even cross my mind but it seems obvious now…

5. Shiny Hair: One quick trick to bring out hair and do highlight is to duplicate the layer with Command+J and change the blending mode to Overlay. Then you add a layer mask to only reveal the parts you want. I also dropped the opacity to 40%

Edit - Step 5

Edit – Step 5

6. More details: Yael prefers the Black and White because it has more details in the scarf. Here’s how I brought some details. After merging with Command+E, I did copy the layer with Command+J. I then converted it to Black and White from Image–>Adjustment–>Black and White. I then used Filter–>Other–>High Pass with a value of 31px. I then changed the blending mode to Soft Light and used another mask to reveal only the scarf.

Yael - Color - Edited

Yael – Color – Edited

This is my final version for the color edit. I will use it as the starting point for the Black and White version.

7. Black and White version: Go to Image –> Adjustment –> Black and White and use the preset “Lighter”. I used this one as it keeps a good amount of details without bringing up too much “bad details”. Then duplicate the layer with Command+J and change the blending mode to Multiply and the opacity to 50-60%. Add a mask to hide some parts you want to keep lighter (eyes, signature…). Finally I used Layer –>New Adjustment Layer –> Levels and  used the preset Increase Contrast 1 with some minor tweaks.

Yael - Black and White

Yael – Black and White

Let me know what you think about this process and don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish me to edit some pictures for you like I did for Yael

By Sebastien Grobelny

Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden

With Yael going recently to Phoenix and asking people where to go, I remembered the time spent in Phoenix in the hotel pool with Celine and the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. I would definitely put it on my list of place to go while in Phoenix. Below is a shot from there.

Tree trunk in Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden

And here are some other plants from there.
There were also some interesting graffiti close to our hotel.

Phoenix GraffitiBy Sebastien Grobelny

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