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Journey On a Rock

This tutorial will take you from start to finish editing a slightly under-exposed, backlit photo of Journey. 

In order to do this tutorial, you’ll want:

  • a decent knowledge of Photoshop basics, eg., masking, adjustment layers and so on
  • A decent knowledge of Lightroom, eg., radial filters

This techniques in this tutorial will work best with:

  • backlit photos, with even lighting on the dog’s face
  • slightly under-exposed photos, but it’s ok if you have some blown-out highlights
  • photos with some kind of natural “shape” to the foreground and background (eg., not on an open field).
Remember: Not all editing tutorials will work on all photos. The key is to take the rationale and reasoning behind when and why to make certain edits, and consider if that applies to the photo you are working on. While my process and my steps are very similar from photo to photo, an underexposed backlit photo will require different ways of working to a brighter forest-green photo.

Since this is one of my favourite photos, it’s one I would prefer that edits do not get posted on social media. 

Below, you

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Backlit Amie: Full Tutorial, PS Only!

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In this tutorial, I work on a reasonably underexposed image of Amie, that I took for a collar company (hence the weird composition of the photo!) .

I had recently jumped on a couple of zoom calls with some LC students who were using programs other than Photoshop, and neither of them had access to radial filters, so had made their own work-arounds, which is amazing, but, the problem with these work arounds were that they  couldn’t be re-edited later.

A big part of my process and the way I work, is ensuring that any of my edits are able to be changed later down the track – whether at the very base level of being able to easily adjust the white balance of my RAW file by working with my photos as smart objects, or by using adjustment layers and keeping any changes to the “base image” at the bottom of my layers panel. As much as possible, my process allows me to be flexible, to come back at any point and make changes to the edited image. 

This isn’t always possible (for example when doing a content aware fill or content aware crop that covers the original image file. But for the most part, my edits can always be undone, turned off, changed slightly, added to, etc. 

What I realised from these zoom calls was that a) not everybody had access to radial filters, and b) possibly some people find them fiddly and time consuming, or just don’t like them. So in this editing tutorial, I ditched them completely. No radial filters at all.

I use Camera Raw Filter to begin with – this is basically Lightroom and includes all the most basic functions of any editing software, making global adjustments to the image/RAW file.

The rest I do in Photoshop. 

There are some slightly different techniques in here to what I’ve shown before, a bit of an explanation about how I would organise my layers when needing to do some clone stamping or healing spot brush, and some other interesting bits and pieces that I don’t think I’ve shown before. 

The tutorial will probably be best if you have a reasonable knowledge of Photoshop (or your editing program). I don’t explain how to mask something in or out in detail, for example.

Reflections: Full Tutorial

In this tutorial, we work through the pretty under-exposed photo above and  take it to the photo on the right. 

I thought it was going to be complicated, but since we didn’t have to work much on the face and eyes (compared to a more forward-facing image) it only ended up taking about 30 minutes, so this is the perfect tutorial for when you only have a little bit of time.

You can download the RAW file to edit along with me.