Digital Photo 150 at Napa Valley College

Photoshop Exercise 9: Workflow


Example One is the White Birch Leaves

Example Two is below this one, and is the Olive Tree

Original Image from camera, Leaves on White Birch, and contrail from jet.

Overlapping of images summarizes the project with the original on upper left and the final on the upper right, and the "middle" step in the middle.

Why did I crop the way I did?  I wanted the contrail to be prominent and long, almost bumping into one particular leaf, with the bulk of the tree for distraction.  The contrail was ventical so the vertical crop copied that shape and makes a strong statement for a collision of culture and nature.  The color correction for this project was done with a new layer, a 50% gray fill, according to the screencast still on the Web, which was changed to a Difference mode after the fill, then a New Threshold Adjustment Layer set down a new grey point in the darkest area for a precise gray point setting… The I came in with a new Curves Adjust Layer mode set to Color and use the middle gray color tool to set the color in the final vertical image.  I still prefer the color of the middle step.  I should not have done another color adjustment from that one, but thought it was over-saturated and wanted to see what it looked like, with a new color correction.

First phase was working with exposure, color, contrast, seeing alternatives

Washing off the under-exposure, bringing in light and contrast, luminosity, hute, and saturation.

After the initial global and local adjustments, deciding how I wanted the image to look, the task at hand was about wanting to feature the contrail, then figuring out what the distractors were, and making the decision to crop vertically, because the featured item was vertical.  I loved the leading line and wanted to capitalize on getting the eye to see a featured area of the white birch tree.  Deciding to leave in some contrasting leaves for balance, was critical.

More development is desired, to bring out more midtones.

At this point in the project, I had made a new copy of the original so that I could do the global with only the final cropped objects in the image. I didn’t want the developed version above, where a lot of tree had affected the outcome of adjustments.  I could really see, from the image, though, that I needed to develop midtones in the final cropped image.

This is the version I decided to run with... I was very happy with the midtones and also pleased to have a full range of tone.


I had never totally started over with the global adjustments on an image after cropping but do see a huge change in the color between the cropped image and the previous full image.  That was a good lesson to be learned.  Also learned, was that midtone can really be featured and that it can “make” an image stand out.

This final image I will call “White Birch Leaves” as a deliberate understated lack of comment on the featured contrail… the purpose of the image was to quietly show beauty in nature colliding with culture and this image is a great example.. How many of us have been out in the wilderness enjoying the beauty of nature only to have the contrails of the skies remind us that culture is everywhere…

I really enjoy the photography depicting postmodernism.  I also enjoy action photography, where something unusual is going on..  had the fun of taking a camera to a schools “field day” where I watched a classroom of kids trying to bounce objects off the center of parachute silk with well-planned ripples of color, and photographed a balloon landing sequence in a school yard, then watched as the school children got their first glimpse up close of the inside of the gondola and registered their surprise, with eyes and faces peering over the sides… perhaps a day they would never forget, for it was so unusual… and it has its funny moments, like getting the back view of the pilot disappearing over the side, to get back into the gondola.  This image was two feet pointing downward, showing with two legs in view, but the back and head of the person no longer in sight, hidden by the walls of the gondola.

What do we say about workflow?  That seeing an image right off does not always give us the notion to crop first.  Sometimes I sit on images in my mind, over night before developing them.  I always do put them in Aperture or Lightroom right off the camera memory though, and perfer Lightroom for the ease of the Quick Collection and the easy global adjustments.


1) In the field, on a trip, backup to laptop with cardreader. I have a main catalog in Lightroom, which I am preferring at the moment over Aperture.  I have only been learning more about Lightroom this semester and am not very good at it yet..  I am trying to become automatic about opening images in Lightroom, doing global in Lightroom, and open Photoshop from Lightroom, to do the local adjustments.  In the field I use two b/u (backup) besides the laptop: disk burned, and external drives (3).. labeled CF, SD, both.  Disk 3 (both) holds the copies I moved into Lightroom, and the Lightroom Library backups by copying folder from desktop of laptop.  No drives, computer nor disks are in any hotel room when we are out during the day. I have a large lock box in the car, and media is in the lockbox.  Laptop has LoJack installed, in case of theft and can be tracked…


I want to be able to be using Lightroom folders for making stacks in the workflow, and for saving all files…. It would be very help to have PSD files stay in lightroom and not on my desktop. For blogging, I would only want to export the .jpg flattened… that would speed up everything to have unflattened files stay inside the Library.  I want one album for each project.  Or better, a catalog per project and an album per step. I don’t like unflattened images because I am too new to be good at the metadata retrieval system if they are in a library of 200 gigs..

Example 2 of Images for Exercise 9

Original view

Final Image: Olive Tree at Sunset

Thoughts and Reflections

All adjustments were done in Photoshop Layers, and I cannot get the .nef (RAW) file nor the .psd files onto this blog, nor the .tiff file. The .JPG (Joint Photographer’s Group) format files are lossy, so I saved a .tiff for archival needs… when I need an “original” I would create a copy from the .tiff file.

There is a lot that Lightroom cannot process, or I don’t know how to process in Lightroom… For instance, I will need Photoshop for the B/W points, to be precise, for the grey point to be precise in color adjustments, and can use Lightroom for Contrast and Brightness settings, but I don’t just make an adjustment once… I have to tweak it, then contrast changes color, and brightness changes color and contrast, so I set the brightness high, then set the contrast, then set the color. Then I think I’m ready for the local, but only if the luminence, hue, saturation were where I wanted them. No sense jumping back and forth between local and global or that might create a muddy over-worked look. I feel that once black or white tones/tints are added to the paint, it can get muddy if over-manipulated. Lightening and darkening should be last, before warmth/cooling or spot sat.

All I can say, is this PS developing does take much time… I cannot develop every photo after every outing, but what I can do is rely more on Lightroom for Digital Asset Management which will become a time-saver, only once I have learned to use it regularly enough that it becomes the preferred habit… and then I can learn to work in stacks with version comparisons a lot easier than without Lightroom. I need to learn group exporting, and work more on global metatags and metadata prior to importing… so I am adding less metadata after import when I am rating and deleting images.  I don’t have anything new created with the camera lately because I have been too busy with homework in software, so a the midpoint of the semester if you wanted a portfolio, I’d have to fish from images of a year ago… or images you don’t like which are the Color of Rain project of mine.

A good workflow has to have good digital asset management for effective file archival and retrieval methods, based on the meta searches.  I have to work on that idea of digital asset management with software before I will be comfortable with it.  I am not going to sit back in a rocking chair and be a hobbyist, so I have to learn it now.

In this original view the hills were flat, and very blah… Now in this image, there is vitality.  Can’t you almost hear Julie Andrews singing, “the hills are alive….”




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