Parature Releases Free White Paper on Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers

White Paper Explores the Latest Techniques and Skills for Managing Challenging Customer Interactions
Parature, the global leader in on-demand customer service software, announced today the release of a free white paper offering customer service and support professionals insight into appropriate skills and techniques for managing challenging customer interactions. The white paper entitled “What to Say to a Porcupine: Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers” is available for download in Parature’s white paper library.

What to Say to a Porcupine: Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers
Parature is dedicated to helping organizations deliver superior customer service
Those that work in customer service and support know that some of the angriest – and craziest – requests come into their support teams. Handling these challenging requests is often the bane of a service and support professionals’ existence, resulting in decreased morale and increased turnover. A support professional unarmed with the appropriate skills and techniques to negotiate an unpleasant interaction may become frazzled or angry, the aftermath of which is a dissatisfied customer. Now, in a Web 2.0 world it is all too easy for a customer to broadcast this dissatisfaction across the Internet, quite possibly affecting the organization’s revenue. So how do support teams deliver on their goal of retaining customers and making them happy when they often have prickly customers to support? “What to Say to a Porcupine: Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Customers” explores the use of some of the latest techniques in communications skills and behavioral psychology to break down the mechanics of difficult customer transactions, teaching skills that will help both support professionals and their customers feel at ease in any situation.

Parature enables any organization to fundamentally change the way they support their customers through its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery and integrated, intuitive design that empowers organizations to better and more efficiently serve, support, engage with and retain customers in today’s Web world. The seamlessly integrated suite of Parature Customer Service(TM) software modules allows organizations to effectively manage all of their support needs without additional hardware, software and IT expenses. Parature integrates everything in one dynamic, unified system to increase efficiency across entire organizations, improving processes among customer support, operations, development and sales.

“Parature is dedicated to helping organizations deliver superior customer service,” stated Parature CEO and President Duke Chung. “We demonstrate this commitment, not only by providing the smartest, most efficient customer service software, but by providing valuable written content as well. Parature has conducted in-depth research to provide relevant and thought provoking insight into industry trends and techniques that will contribute to the success of customer service professionals and enable organizations to provide exceptional customer service at an affordable price.”

To view Parature’s white paper library visit: http://www.parature.com/res_whitepapers.aspx.

Parature, Inc.
Parature, the leader in on-demand customer service software, makes it possible for any business to leverage the Internet to provide outstanding customer service. The company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery and integrated, intuitive design enables organizations to better and more efficiently serve, support, engage with and retain customers in today’s Web world. Founded in 2000, Parature received the 2007 and 2008 Product of the Year Award from Customer Interaction Solutions magazine and has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. For the past three consecutive years Parature has been on the Washington Business Journal’s list of Best Places to Work. Headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, Parature is at work in organizations of all types and sizes, and helps support more than 10 million end users worldwide. For more information, visit www.parature.com.

Processing Infrared Photography Step By Step

In this tutorial we go step by step through the processing of infrared images from an unconverted digital camera.
Once you have shot infrared images with your digital camera you will need to do some processing to make them useable. In this article we will go step by step through the process, showing the options you have as you go.

The processing of digital infrared images is one that offers huge and almost infinite creative options. While this tutorial is illustrated by screenshots from Adobe Photoshop CS4, all these techniques can be done in CS3 and most can be done in earlier versions of Photoshop and in other programs, like Paint Shop Pro. So if you use one of these you will be able to do these processes, just the details of the exact commands will vary.

Infrared photography

As we saw in the previous article, Shooting Infrared Photography Step By Step, your images will look very strange straight from the camera. You have two different directions you can take: produce a monochrome image or go for a false color image. We will examine these separately.

Monochrome image

Approach 1
If you have chosen a single channel to expose for when you were shooting, the first approach option is to do a monochrome conversion from just your chosen channel.

Open your image in Photoshop, if necessary doing any adjustments you want in Adobe Camera RAW. Remember that you may be able to claw back any burned out highlights or blocked up shadows with the exposure, recovery and blacks sliders.

Infrared Photography

It is better to setup ACR to pass a 16-bit image to Photoshop as this will give you more headroom to make adjustments without adversely affecting tonal graduation.

Infrared Photography

Infrared Photography

Now open up the channel palette and select just the channel you wish to use.

Infrared Photography

If you use Image -> Mode-> Monochrome Photoshop will convert your image to monochrome using just the one channel.

Infrared Photography

You will probably find your image is a bit flat. So the first step is to adjust the black and white points. Use Levels to do this. You can set the black and white points to whatever you want. So you can maintain full control over the highlights and shadows and just how they look. Note that I position the dialog so I can still see the histogram panel while I make the adjustments to ensure I am not going to introduce clipping.

Infrared Photography

At this point you can take the image anyway you like, such as by applying curves to increase contrast where you want it or doing local adjustment using dodge and burn or other approaches.

Infrared Photography

Infrared Photography

Approach 1a – Simulate Halation

Many people like the glowing highlights look that came about with Kodak Highspeed Infrared Emulsion because of its lack on an anti-halation coating. You can simulate this with the following approach.

Duplicate the image layer by dragging it to the New Layer icon.

Infrared Photography

Apply a pretty heavy Gaussian Blur filter to this duplicate layer.

Infrared Photography

Now change the blending mode of the top, blurred, layer to Lighten or to another mode that works for you. Lighten will simply apply the glow to the highlights without blurring the shadows.

Infrared Photography

You can then use opacity to control the degree of the effect.

Infrared Photography

Another alternative is to add a Layer Mask to this blur layer.

Infrared Photography

Then paint into the layer mask where you want to hide or reduce the effect.

Infrared Photography

Approach 2

You can choose to combine the channels rather than select just one to do the BW conversion.

Open your image up in Photoshop and do an individual channels level adjustment by either selecting one channel at a time in the Channels palette and then Levels.

Infrared Photography

Do Image -> Adjustments -> Black & White

Infrared Photography

Now you can mix the channels together and see the result in the main image window.

Infrared Photography

Color Image

Approach 1

Using a single image we can create false color.

Open the image up in Photoshop.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Do an individual Levels on each channel. You can do this by selecting each channel one at a time in the Channels palette or by using the facility of the Le
vels dialog to work on individual color channels.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

This gives you an image with subtle color

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

At this point you can leave it like this or further develop the image. One way to develop further is to increase the color saturation or vibrancy to make the subtle color more obvious.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

You can perform channel swaps to shift the color. Say you want to swap red and blue channels. You can click on the red channel. Do a Select All and then copy to the clipboard.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Click on the New Channel icon in the Channels palette and paste the red channel in there.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Then copy the Blue channel and paste it in the Red.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Then copy the temporary channel (what was the Red) into the Blue and delete the Alpha 1 temporary channel.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Further adjustments can be made to individual channels, such as here where by lightening the red channel I add more obvious red to the image.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

There are, of course, many other ways to add false color in Photoshop, such as by using the channel mixer.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Approach 2

An innovative solution to creating false color images, that look somewhat like the old Infrared Ektachrome false color film IR images did, requires that you take two images. One image should be a normal, visible light image without your infrared filter and the second is an infrared image. Life is much easier if these are both shot on tripod and in alignment, so care should be taken when you attach the IR filter.

The approach is to open both images in Photoshop and swap channels from the infrared image into the color one. To create the classic Ektachrome effect it is generally the red or green IR channel that you move into the red channel of the color image, to turn the foliage red. But other possibilities also exist for other effects.

Now because of the channel swapping between the two images you need to be careful of either camera or subject movement between the two shots, so you would wish to do this as quickly as possible. With landscapes, days of high wind can be a problem, as can other causes of movement, such as cars, people, etc.

The specific sequence of steps is shown below:

Select the images you will use in Bridge, Photoshop or some other program.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Now you will have your two images open in Photoshop.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Select the individual channel in the IR image that you want to use. In this case I am using the green channel. Do a Select All and then copy it to the clipboard.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Select the channel you want this put into, usually red, and do a Paste.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Now examine just the colored image to see if there is any misalignment.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

If there is a misalignment select just the red channel (but make sure the other channels are visible by clicking on the eye next to each channel) and use the move tool to move the red layer into alignment. This is often more easily done at 100% and focusing on a distant part of the scene that does not move.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

And this is the result.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Other results are possible depending on the actual IR channel you choose. Here I have used a red channel. You can see the interesting color effects you get when things like leaves move.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Here are a couple of other examples

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

Remember you are not limited to RGB. Here we have the color image in LAB mode and I paste the IR image into the L channel.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

And here into the a channel.

Digital infrared photography processing in photoshop

I hope you have found this article useful and will get you going on working with a subject that is my passion, digital infrared photography.

Shooting Infrared Photography Step By Step

In this tutorial we go step by step through shooting infrared with your normal, unmodified digital camera.
Infrared photography is, quite simply, stunning. So it is natural for a photographer to want to give this a go. We cover film infrared photography elsewhere, so here we will concentrate on digital infrared here.

Digital camera sensors are sensitive to infrared light. Because of this, camera manufacturers place an IR blocking filter in front of the sensor to improve color rendition by blocking infrared light. These blocking filters are not 100% effective, and so we can still shoot IR. Unfortunately the strength of the filters has been growing over time and so more recent digital cameras have blocking filters that will cause your exposures to be quite long and certainly requiring a tripod.

Infrared photography by Wayne J. Cosshall

You will need a filter to block the visible light through the lens and only allow the infrared through. The common one and, in my view, the best one to start with, is the Hoya R-72 filter (for a more extensive discussion, see our article “Choosing a Filter for Infrared Photography”). This filter lets through a tiny amount of red light but the full range of infrared. Your R-72 filter goes on the lens and thus stops you from seeing through the camera, in the case of an SLR. In many compact cameras the Live View on the LCD with still work and display the scene. With dSLRs with Live View you would expect this to work, but in practice it does not. The only company’s camera that has Live View that works with an IR filter attached is Olympus. With their cameras you will get a darkish but quite workable monochrome view, but you must turn on Live View Boost from the menus.

Shooting infrared photography using Live View

Infrared response graph

If you examine the graph above which shows the sensitivity through the Bayer RGB filter that is part of every camera’s sensor you will understand why a camera responds the way it does in the IR. With this Kodak sensor (reproduced with permission from Kodak), we can see that while the red filter remains transparent to light from the red (as you would expect) right through to the IR, this is not true of the other filters. The green and blue filters drop to opaque beyond their range, again as you would expect, but become transparent to infrared above a certain wavelength. Since filters are defined by the point at which their transparency to IR rises to 50%, with this particular filter the green channel acts as if it had a 780nm cutoff filter and the blue as if it had an 800nm filter, approximately. So in a camera with this sensor the red channel will see IR from 720nm on, green from 780nm and blue from 800nm on. This explains why the resulting images from your camera will usually be very red: the camera is capturing more light in the red channel because it can make use of a wider range of IR light and covers an area where the sensor is more sensitive to IR, which the green and blue will be less so. This obviously varies from sensor to sensor because of the different dyes used in manufacturing the Bayer filter.

Infrared photography

What this means in practice is that your camera will produce a more extreme infrared effect (darker skies, more contrast) in the green and blue channels than in the red.

Infrared photography

The fact that the three color channels will see different parts of the infrared spectrum (depending on the filter you put on the lens) means that there is some residual information you can exploit for false color infrared, if you wish to. We will look at this in the companion article “Processing Infrared Photography Step By Step”.

Infrared photography

The above difference between the three-color channels in how much of the infrared spectrum they see means that there is a significant difference in exposure between the three when you take a photograph. In many cameras I have tested there is approximately a 2.5 stop difference in exposure between the red and the green channel. Because most infrared scenes will, with an unconverted camera, not use the full tonal range the camera can capture, you will end up with a lump on each channel that does not cover the whole range (see the histogram below). This lack of use of the full range means that you will normally, in processing later, need to do a Levels adjustment and stretch the tones out. If you are primarily stretching the image data up to create a white you will also be magnifying the image noise. So to create a good image for later work you will wish to expose your image to the maximum possible level without white clipping occurring. That means you need to choose which channel is most important to you, the red, with a more moderate IR effect but the highest exposure, or the green, with a stronger IR effect but requiring a longer exposure, and thus more noise.

Infrared photography

Once you have determined the above you can start shooting. Framing is an issue with dSLRs (as well as film SLRs for IR work). With the filter on you cannot see. There are three possible solutions to this issue:

  • Use an external viewfinder mounted on the hotshoe for framing;
  • Frame by guess and then refine once you have taken a shot;
  • Frame the camera and then screw on the filter.

Personally I do not like the last one because there is too much handling of the filter and thus more risk on dropping it or marking it. I prefer the guess approach, so let me illustrate that below.

Infrared photography uses a tripod

Setup the camera on your favorite tripod, with a cable release (you can use the self timer if you do not have one) and the R-72 or similar filter on the lens. Point the camera by eye and set a starting field of view if using a zoom lens. Take a shot. Look at the result and change the setup if the framing does not please. Remember to use the eyepiece blind or little plastic thing on the camera strap to cover the eyepiece. There is the risk of light leaking in and fogging part of the image.

Determining your exposure is an easy process. Depending on how recent your camera is, set a starting exposure of somewhere between ½ a second (older camera) to 15 seconds (newer camera), f4 and 100 or 200ISO. Take a shot. Adjust the display on the LCD screen so that a histogram is also displayed if your camera is capable of doing so (normally done by cycling through the modes with the display button, but check the manual). If you can display individual channel histograms adjust your exposure up or down to put the desired channel as close to the right of the histogram as you can without clipping. If your camera only displays one, combined, histogram if you place the right of the histogram up near the right of the graph you will be properly exposing the red channel. Find by experiment how many stops from this you need to shift to correctly place the green channel. If no histogram can be displayed you must do it from the image. If the result is very bright red but with no obvious clipping then you are exposing the red channel properly. Again, experimentation will show you how much you must shift from this to get the green right. This will result in an over exposed red image showing lots of white, on the LCD.

Infrared photography

With most dSLRs I have tested you will get a decent result with autofocus. This is because, with the R-72 filter on the lens, only IR light is going into the camera and so the sensor must focus using this light. I would advise using a moderately stopped down aperture if the exposure sensitivity permits. What I mean here is that many cameras only allow you to set a shutter speed up to 30 seconds. If your camera requires a full sun exposure of 30 second, f2.8 and 100ISO, then you want to stop down further you will need to either use bulb and using a watch or stopwatch time the exposure or increase the ISO, which may not be desirable to you because of a rise in noise. Remember that (see the separate article on Diffraction Effects) blurring occurs faster as you stop down to really small apertures in infrared than it does in the visible. So I rarely go below f11. Again you need to take some shots and then look at them at 100% in Photoshop to see how well the focus works. Manual focusing can be hard with dSLRs because many of the lenses no longer show and IR red focus line. If you have a lens with this mark you can, of course, focus without the filter, then attach it and adjust focus.

Infrared photography

Don’t be surprised if, when you examine your images either on the LCD or back home on the computer, that they feature a central glow or low contrast, fogged looking area. Many lenses do not perform well in IR, at least on unconverted cameras. Since the IR blocking filter in the camera is one that reflects away the IR light rather than absorbing it, the majority of the IR getting through your R-72 filter will be reflected back at the lens. This IR will reflect around and, because the multi-coatings may not be designed to handle IR, eventually find their way back to the sensor, causing a central spot. Some lenses will only do this at certain zoom settings or certain apertures. If you have a lens which does this badly the only real solution is to buy a different lens. See the reference lists elsewhere on this site for our listings and those on other sites.

You will also find that your camera is more sensitive to lens flare in IR than in visible light. So you need to be more careful about effective lens shades and how you point the camera, unless you like this effect.

That’s about it for the shooting. See the companion article on Processing Infrared Photography Step By Step.

Infrared photography

Infrared photography

Infrared photography

Infrared photography

Infrared photography

Infrared photography

Infrared with my Canon 100-400mm L Series Lens

A day out shooting included some shooting with my 100-400mm lens.
The 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 IS L lens from Canon is a compact and capable lens that I’ve made a lot of good use of. On a day when I was out testing a swag of cameras, I put the 100-400 in the bag with my converted for infrared 350D. Over the day of shooting it went on the camera many times. Here are some of the resulting images.

Shooting the landscape with a long zoom lens like this allows you to graze the landscape from one location for awhile, then shift to a new location and then repeat.

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

Infrared photography with the Canon 100-400 f5.6 IS L

A great place to buy a 100-400mm is at B&H Photo.

Abstracting the Seascape

I was shooting with the new Olympus E-3 dSLR down at the beach and decided to create some abstracted seascapes by shooting in infrared and making use of the long exposures.
My first outing with the Olympus E-3 dSLR was off to the beach, specifically back beach (the ocean beach) at Sorrento in Victoria, Australia. While there, apart from the normal shooting, I put a Hoya R-72 infrared filter on the camera and shot in the f4 and 4 seconds, 200ISO to f8, 15 seconds exposure range. This gave a good exposure on the green channel for a monochrome conversion. I made use of the long exposure to blur the water and create, to greater ad lesser degrees, abstracted seascapes. Some of the results are below.

The E-3 is a great camera to shoot IR with, given that it has live preview and an eyepiece blind. The E-3 is available from B&H Photo in NY, as well as other great stockists worldwide.

First, the least abstracted images. Please also note these are only my first pass over these images. I would expect to improve them with localized contrast work.

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

And now for some more abstracted ones.

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

One benefit of choosing one channel for the mono conversion is that you can sometimes get three quite different images depending on which channel you choose. Here are the red, green and blue channels of one image, each adjusted as appropriate.

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Infrared photography with the Olympus E-3

Joy in the Water

Having a camera that can shoot underwater adds all sorts of photo possibilities. Last summer we took an Olympus u725SW with us on holiday.
Beaches are not a particularly friendly place for you dSLR. Blowing sand and spray on ocean beaches are not too compatible with delicate cameras and immersion in water is never a good idea. There have always been underwater camera options, from the fantastic Nikonos to all sorts of housings to protect your normal gear. But recently a new breed of underwater compact cameras have been appearing that avoid all the hassles and provide enough capability in the water to satisfy everyone except the dedicated diver. The first of these was the Olympus u725SW and we spent last summer with one.

Olympus u725 SW digital camera

Olympus u725 SW digital camera

A waterproof camera means that you can shoot happily in very bad weather without having to worry about the camera and allowing you to get shots you would not otherwise capture.

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

At the water’s edge there are rock pools, which are now accessible to you. With practice with the camera you can do well just reaching into the pool, pointing and shooting. One thing that takes some getting used to is the AF range in macro underwater and learning to visualize the field of view of the camera. A couple of hours of practice and you will pick it up. These cameras have large, bright LCD screens, which make viewing your photos afterwards easy, greatly speeding the learning process.

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

In the water you can now shoot out of the water without fear of dropping the camera, under the water or even a mix of the two, where the lens is partly underwater and partly not.

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

I my case since I wear glasses, shooting underwater was a hit and miss affair, but something I got progressively better at with practice. At some point I have to get prescription swimming goggles so I can see the camera screen. But if you don’t have these you should still give it a try. It is surprising to photographers used to framing carefully with a precision SLR viewfinder to have to frame by guesstimate, but you can get quite good.

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

You can get housings for your existing cameras. This is an option. But there is also a great convenience in a small, compact, wash off dedicated digital that also makes a great carry around camera. Put in a large memory card and you can shoot away all day.

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

So I recommend that you consider buying a camera like this. It opens up so many options, from bad weather to underwater, rock pools, blowing sand, even fish tanks and bowls of water for all sorts of special effects, like shooting oil in water, colored dyes and more. If you put together image composites, as I do, it opens up a great new range of subject matter and textures that you can combine. An underwater camera might be just what you need to loosen up that stuck creativity.

The Olympus SW waterproof series are available from B & H Photo.

Other waterproof digital cameras and waterproof housings are also available from B & H Photo.

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Underwater photograph with Olympus u725SW camera

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop, Part 4

I have always liked to modify small sections of images to enhance the overall balance. In this article we look at how to do this in Photoshop.
View part 3 of this series.

I decided to add this 4th part to illustrate more subtle effects (though still exaggerated a little so you can see in whatever web browser you are using). This image was shot last week when I was up in Sydney for an Autodesk press event and had some spare time before my flight home.

The straight image is not bad, but the sky lacks some drama and the opera house is a little flat.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

With a Levels adjustment layer I can enhance the drama in the sky, but it makes the rest too dark.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

A simple gradient gets us a long way towards mixing the dramatic sky with the straight ground.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Painting by hand with a 5% opacity brush lets me bring some of the sky contrast down into the area near the tree and removing the straight transition.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Now to the contrast in the opera house. I’ve added a brightness/contrast adjustment layer above the other and bumped the contrast for the opera house, though I have gone further than I want.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Because I only want to apply the extra contrast to a small area, the first thing is to fill the mask with black to it is NOT applying to any of the image.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Now I can paint back in with white at about 5% opacity and slowly buildup the contrast in the areas I choose.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

The end result has the drama I saw when I was there.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop, Part 3

I have always liked to modify small sections of images to enhance the overall balance. In this article we look at how to do this in Photoshop.
Go back to Part 2.

Another Infrared

Here we minimize the steps as I think you will have the hang of it now from the above.
Our starting image is interesting but needs a bit of work. Doing a pretty extreme levels moves the sky, especially in the top right, where I want it. With the hard horizon I use the selection tools to select the entire bottom of the image from the horizon and fill with black, so I only have the extreme effect in the sky and distant land. I then paint in to the distant land area and across the foreground to unify the image and to get the tonal focus where I want.
In these examples I’ve stuck with just using Levels but all the other adjustments will be suitable for some image used in this way. I’ve also made the effects more extreme so they are easy to see. When you work on your own screens you can be much more subtle and still successfully use these techniques.

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

I hope from this three part series that you have gained an understanding of how to move beyond enhancements to the whole image to crafting you image piece by piece.

View part 4 of this series of articles.

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop, Part 2

I have always liked to modify small sections of images to enhance the overall balance. In this article we look at how to do this in Photoshop.
Go back to Part 1.

Infrared
This is our starting image. It was shot in shade and is quite low contrast.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Applying Levels is a standard thing I normally do to IR images. Now the trouble is, as I move the black point control around, I find different settings work best for different parts of the image. So I am going to need to apply different adjustments across the image.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

So the first thing is to apply the Layers -> New Adjustment Layer -> Levels.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Just in case you end up working with multiple layers, choose the Use previous layer checkbox so what you do will only apply to this layer.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Set the Levels to the most extreme change you want in the image
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

In the Layers palette you will now see a Levels adjustment layer with its own layer mask filled with white. Remember that in layer masks white means the layer or effect is shown in full, black means it is not shown and shades of grey apply it partly in proportion.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

If we now put a white to black gradient in the mask we can vary the effect from none to full. With this image it doesn’t work because the effects need to be much more local.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

For this image better is to paint into the mask. Fill the mask with white, select black and the paintbrush tool. Pick a suitable size soft brush and a low opacity so that you can reduce the effect strength you want bit by bit. Note that with an image where you only want the effect in a few places it is better to fill the mask with black and then paint in the white where you need it.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

After painting for some time, correcting when you overdo it by painting in the opposite color, we end up with a satisfactory solution. Notice the mask contains areas of grey.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Go on to Part 3.

Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop, Part 1

I have always liked to modify small sections of images to enhance the overall balance. In this article we look at how to do this in Photoshop.
I find it is rare that the best I can get out of an image comes from simple, overall adjustments. Most images benefit from some degree of localized treatment. So in this article I offer you my way of working on images. We will go through three images, two infrared and one color.

Color
This is our starting image. The foreground is not bad but the sky and maybe the sea is weak. For this I’ve picked a clearly over exposed image that, perhaps because it is the only shot we have of a place, we want to rescue. In reality I would probably drop in another sky.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Applying Levels is a standard thing I normally do to start with most images to adjust the black and white points. In this case we already have lots of data close to black and white. Adjusting the mid grey control is similar to adjusting the curve. Pushing it right up towards the white point makes the sky and sea stunning, but is not good to the foreground.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

So the first thing is to apply the Layers -> New Adjustment Layer -> Levels.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Just in case you end up working with multiple layers, choose the Use previous layer checkbox so what you do will only apply to this layer.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Set the Levels to the most extreme change you want in the image.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

In the Layers palette you will now see a Levels adjustment layer with its own layer mask filled with white. Remember that in layer masks white means the layer or effect is shown in full, black means it is not shown and shades of grey apply it partly in proportion.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

If we now put a white to black gradient in the mask (use the gradient tool after clicking on the layer mask in the Layers palette) we can vary the effect from none to full. This gets us pretty close. You can apply the gradient several times until you get the angle and transition correct. It took about three goes to get this right.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

To then fix it up further choose the paintbrush, set a low brush opacity and a suitable sized soft brush. Select black.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Now paint into the mask, building up layers of paint where you need it to reduce the effect as needed. Zoom in and out, change the brush size and switch from black to white and back, as needed until you get what you need. You can see in the mask where we have made changes to the straight gradient.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

The edge areas can be fine tuned beyond this just by painting into the mask with smaller brushes.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Further adjustments are always possible with this approach, as you have not changed the original image.
Localized Image Enhancements in Photoshop

Continue with Part 2.