Photoshopping Phun

Today was all about frequency separation and compositing. Frequency separation is an editing technique used in Photoshop, which separates an image’s texture value from the tone and colour. To do this, you use two separate layers – one on a low frequency (for colours), and one that is higher (texture). Sometimes, if a picture is edited too much, it loses a lot of the natural textures in it, and it starts to look too much like plastic. It is obvious that it has been tweaked. Frequency separation is good because it enables the photo to be fixed up without damaging it. The images below are a before and after (respectively) of my first attempt at using frequency separation to edit a photograph. (Image provided).

At a first glance it is not so obvious that the pictures are different. However the one on the right has been smoothed over in a few areas, with the lady’s features softened and some details, such as small freckles or creases, removed using Photoshop’s patch tool. The shine on her face has decreased once it was smoothed. Because the texture and colour was kept separate throughout the process, the woman still has visible pores in her skin despite it having been smoothed over. As you can see where I stated earlier, the end product still retains it’s texture and isn’t completely without detail, it is just a cleaner version of the previous photo.

The second activity was compositing, which is taking aspects from multiple separate photographs and sort of splicing them together to make a new image. The class has done this before, like once, but not to the same scale. We used gaussian blur a lot today. A LOT.

These are the two images we were provided with.

The goal was to make the angry person a part of the picture of the spooky house (which I think itself is a composited photo – farther down the rabbit hole we go). To do this, the picture of the woman needs to be on it’s own layer above the house. Then you have to cut out the outline of the woman using Photoshop’s quick mask mode. Using this makes it easier to select fine details like the wisps of hair.

Next, tweaking the shading and colours of the person to match this image with the colours and tone found in the background. She is lit up by a bright light and made up of warm tones, while the house is dark greens and blues, which means she looks really out of place sitting on top of that photo and it won’t look right if it is left that way. So she is shaded in at the edges to blend with the background more, and then blue and green tones were applied. We also experimented with the light sources – the yellow from the door and the bright white light of the moon, shining on either side of the woman’s head to give the impression that she is really standing outside of the house. The I messed with her eye colour too, to make it more spoooooooky.

Here’s the final product:


Looking back on it now, I can see things that can be improved. The white light on the left side of her face is too blunt, I think, and should be brought down a bit more. I do like how the yellow tint worked out – especially the hair and side of the face. It looks very creepy, all the same, and what better time to be making creepy composites than the Halloween season itself?

Frequency separation will come in handy, while creating the first project. I think it will be fun to see how much of a photo can be changed before it starts to look a bit too funky. And compositing is definitely something I can see myself having fun with. I’m going to start sending letters out with my creations in them.


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