P1W3 – Flexible Edits

Flexible Edits allow us to make changes to the photo on separate layers, without damaging the original pixels. Ideally these edits can be tweaked and changed without having to create another. Two effective methods used in these photos are Smart Objects/Filters and Adjustment Layers.

Adjustment Layer


I first discovered I wanted this photo in the late afternoon, and unfortunately an ugly glare on the window hid the bottles. I came back in the late evening to snatch this photo, while the building’s own shadow protected it from the glare.

This photo has three adjustment layers. Levels, Vibrance, and Black and White. The last has some areas blacked out on the layer mask, allowing the color to show through.



Old Bottles, Old Window
Date: May 11, 2014, Evening
Location: St Anthony, ID
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/80
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i
Edits: Levels, Vibrance, Black & White

Smart Filter


The peeling paint on this old crane worked well with the selected filter. I chose the cutouts filter, which seemed to take general shapes and turn them into solid colors. I tweaked the settings until the clouds and grass were the detail level I preferred, and blotted out the crane itself on the layer mask so that the true photo shows through there. The result almost looks like a video game setting.



Rusty Crane
Date: May 7, 2014, Afternoon
Location: St Anthony, ID
F-Stop: 10
Shutter Speed: 1/250
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i
Edits: Levels, Smart Object/Cutout Filter

While filters and other photoshop effects can be a bit much, flexible edits allow us to make the most of them by tweaking the settings, choosing affected areas with layer masks, and toning down the effect with opacity. This leaves a lot of potential for taking otherwise plain photos and doing something artistic.

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