How I discovered a new approach Mood
As I tried to adjust a photograph I took last April from a moving
train, I realized that I was not getting the right mood although
the colors looked fine. The result was an uninteresting image. When
I took the photograph, it was late afternoon with the golden tones
of the sunset echoing off the surfaces. The image below is the original
converted from Canon RAW format and it does not show much of that
mood at all.
I applied a curves layer with proper white and black points selected
which resulted in the following image (Image 2):
The large original looked but only marginally better. I kept fiddling
with the contrast, colors, etc. and nothing worked to my satisfaction.
I left this image the way it was and started working on a copy of
the original again.
This time I followed a different approach. I added a curves layer
and clicked on OK without making any changes. Then I changed the
blending mode to "Multiply" which gave a much darker image
but with more character as you see below in image 3.
This image obviously has too dark shadows. Now I went and adjusted
the curves layer. I picked the white from the door frame on the
left and black from the dark area between the two men. Then opened
up the shadows by raising the black point higher as shown in the
following screen capture.
The colors looked rich and the picture conveyed the mood of the
late afternoon just before the sunset. However, it still had too
much contrast. See for yourself:
Although this was a definite improvement over the original (image
2) there was practically no detail in the shadows.
Let's see the difference
I flattened this image and copied it over the original (second picture
from the top.) Since I was interested in the difference between
the two images, I changed the blending mode to "Difference."
I wanted to capture this difference and apply it on the original.
So, I duplicated the background (image 2) and merged down the top
dark layer on the background copy. Now I had the original image
as the background and the difference as a layer above it. This is
how the difference layer looked:
Let there be "Soft Light"
I changed the blending mode of the new layer to "Soft light"
and ended up almost where I wanted.
Although this image looks like image 5, you can see significant
differences between the two in their larger versions. I was not
happy with the two man that showed almost no detail.
Get the blender out
By double-clicking on the top layer I arrived at the Blending options
screen and adjusted it as shown below:
(The dark control point values are 20/73 in case you cannot read
them from the image.) As I pulled the dark triangle on the "Underlying
Layer" slider, I watched the detail on the men's clothing magically
emerge and blend with the rest of the image. The resulting image
This image conveys what I saw that late afternoon better than any
of the above. It has that slight glow before the sunset, colors
are dark and saturated with details in the shadows and the highlights.
I now have another tool in my tool-chest. You should try the process
on a suitable image and see for yourself. It is much easier and
much faster to do then to read this tips column.
Copyright 2003, A. Cemal Ekin