So, YOU want Electric!

Red and Yellow After Sunrise

Red and Yellow After Sunrise

This is the original photo I used when I “discovered” this new style I have been using. Like I said, sometimes I find a new process and then have to remember just how I did it. My mind works in mysterious ways, sometimes, and “remembering” can be a challenge, even at my young age of….well, we’ll just say my young age. That CAN be an excuse but, more often than not, “that’s the way it is” (words made famous by Walter Cronkite, which he used at the end of his broadcast every night).
In fact, this photo was taken in front of Ken’s house. I mentioned in the previous blog that I helped Ken move out of his house; this task took a lot longer than I had planned but I managed to acquire some very interesting stuff from him…just as I do when I help anyone move, which I seem to do a lot. In any case, the photo was taken out in front of his place, which had rather extensive gardens. And I LOVE gardens.

My love for gardens began when I was a kid and my Mom had terrific gardens on the property where I grew up in Connecticut. As a young man, my love for gardens disappeared, for whatever reason, and wasn’t renewed until I was about…well, when I was older. I had a girlfriend who remodeled my yard when I lived in Deer Creek Canyon, southwest of Denver, Colorado. When she moved on, I had to maintain them…I sure didn’t want them to disappear since they were so nice! It was then that I began studying horticulture at Denver Botanic Gardens. But I’ll get into that in another blog because that gets a bit complicated, all by itself!

When I process any original photo, I am working in Photoshop Elements 6. First I rework the color so it is more “real” instead of the usually-washed-out paleness, devoid of truly rich colors, by using the drop-down menu under
>>Adjust color
>>Color Variations. Color variations has various boxes in front of you that increase or decrease red, green, blue, and lighten or darken the photo through another set of choices on the left: midtones, shadows, highlights, and saturation…AND there is also a sliding bar that determines how strong you want each task to work. All of these parameters simply take practice in how you want to vary the richness of your photo. More often than not, I play with the midtones, highlights, and saturation; unless a photo is particularly dark, I don’t touch the shadows levels as it rends to add a gauzy light tone to the surface of the photograph.  You want to be careful about how much you boost the highlights, which can wash out your lighter tones so much that you lose the definition of the rest of the photo.
>> Next, I work through Adjust Levels, under the same Enhance drop-down menu:
>> “Levels” adjusts the darkness, midtone, and light levels within the photo, much like the previous step. However, in this step, the overall tone of the richness is dealt with in a different way. As you play with it, you’ll see what I mean. By moving the upward-facing triangles, you can make the photo lighter or darker through the various parts of the photo. The output slider lightens or darkens the final printing output of the photo itself.  Hit OK when you are done.

>> Drop down from Enhance again
>> Adjust Lighting (again)…but this time
>> click on Shadows/Highlights. More slider bars appear and again, it is trial and error to gauge the shadows, highlights, and midtones. With Lighten Shadows or Darken Highlights, you adjust another parameter for richness, while the Midtone Contrast can effect both in a dramatic way. And, yes, again, it’s a trial-and-error job. You can always go back if you think you’ve done too much to the photo…but, getting back to where you want to start from will best be done by backing your way through the steps at the drop down menu under Edit (at the top of the page) and hitting Undo repeatedly until you get to where you want to proceed from again. [This, of course, is true for ANY step!] When you are satisfied, click OK.

Now that you have the photo where you want it, Save As… with a name you like and remember to save it where you can remember where to find it again. I always save a photo “original” (the reworked original) at full resolution. Then I re-size it for easier travel on the Internet so I can send it around to my friends; resizing it smaller makes for much easier downloading for folks with slow connections, among other things. To re-size a photo, drop down
>> below Image to
>> Resize to
>> Image size
First, set your Resolution at 72 pixels/inch, then adjust your Pixel Dimensions using 1024 as your higher number (it will automatically set the other proportion). Then clock OK, and Save As… again. When I Save As this second time, I put an underscore at the end of the image name [and before .jpg] to differentiate it from the previous version.

Now that you have the image that you want as your “original re-work”, the fun begins! The remainder of the process is predominately arbitrary and simply takes getting used to. I play with EVERY photo that I rework into this “electric” style and some photos take a l-o-n-g time to play with…but then that is the nature of playing, isn’t it? HAVE FUN IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING!

>> Click on Filter then
>> on Stylize then
>> on Glowing Edges.
Your screen will split relatively in half, with sliders on the right and PART of the image on the left.  WOW! Look at that image! Different, huh? When I used this the first time, I just about fell out of my chair!

At the bottom of the image is a percentage scale: move it to 25%. You still only see part of the image. To the left of the OK button are 2 arrows pointing up, click on them once. The other choices for image filters disappears and more of your image appears. If you want, you can take your image down another percentage slot to see the whole thing but I find that 25% is fine. Move the photo to a spot where you can see the bulk of what you will be playing with.
>> On the right are 3 sliders: Edge Width, Edge Brightness, and Smoothness. If you read these 3 words again (and again), you’ll get a good idea of what you’re going to be playing with. The thing is, each slider dramatically enhances the use of the other and describing how to use them in their various capacities gets pretty complicated. So, for the sake of shortening this discussion, I’ll walk you through a very brief description of it.

>>Move Edge Width to the 2 position and Edge Brightness to the 3 position. It gets pretty dark doesn’t it? When you move Smoothness all the way to the right, it turns almost black! Moving Smoothness to 1 adds a bit of light but not much. Consequently, Edge Width and Brightness are your two main playing tools, while Smoothness is a refining filter for the image itself. The more Edge Width you give the image, the more blurred it becomes and Edge Brightness messes with, yep, brightness! I tend to set my Edge Width first, then play with the other 2. You’ll get the idea the more you play with your images.

>> When you’re done refining the photo in Glowing Edges, click OK.
>> You’re not just yet….unless you like your photo right where it is. If not, repeat the steps for adjusting the photo using Enhance >> Adjust Color and/or >> Adjust Lighting >> Levels and /or >> Shadows/Highlights. Adjusting the Midtone Contrast in this last option can add some very nice final touches to the finished photo…check it out!
>> Save in Save As… again…give it a new title, of course (to keep your original re-work). Then re-size it, if you want to.

And you’re done!

Waiting for the Dawn

Waiting for the Dawn

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2 Responses to “So, YOU want Electric!”

  1. Great photo! and thanks for the photoshop steps.

  2. sambissell Says:

    Love your blog! Thanks for visiting me…

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