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The Big Digital Photo Fixx

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Make your less-than-perfect digital pictures look fabulous with a little tweaking in Photoshop. You will learn all the tricks to making your digital photos look like professional-grade, hiding your true amateur skills and impressing all your friends.

Okay, did you catch that reference to the band The Fixx in the title? You did? Great. That means that you're at least in your mid-thirties to early forties. (I myself am only in my mid- to early twenties, but I listen to oldies stations just to keep in touch with baby boomers and other people who at one time or another tried to break-dance.) Well, the Fixx had a big hit in the early '80s (around the time I was born) called "One Thing Leads to Another," and that's a totally appropriate title for this chapter because one thing (using a digital camera) leads to another (having to deal with things like digital noise, color aliasing, and other nasties that pop up when you've finally kicked the film habit and gone totally digital). Admittedly, some of the problems we bring upon ourselves (like leaving the lens cap on; or forgetting to bring our camera to the shoot, where the shoot is, who hired us, or what day it is; or we immersed our flash into a tub of Jell-O®, you know—the standard stuff). And other things are problems caused by the hardware itself (the slave won't fire when it's submerged in Jell-O®, you got some Camembert on the lens, etc.). Whatever the problem, and regardless of whose fault it is, problems are going to happen, and you're going to need to fix them in Photoshop. Some of the fixes are easy, like running the "Remove Camembert" filter, and then changing the Blend Mode to Fromage. Others will have you jumping through some major Photoshop hoops, but fear not, the problems you'll most likely run into are all covered here in a step-by-step format that will have you wiping cold congealed water off your flash unit faster than you can say, "How can Scott possibly be in his mid-twenties?".

Compensating for "Too Much Flash"

Don't ya hate it when you open a photo and realize that either (a) the flash fired when it shouldn't have; (b) you were too close to the subject to use the flash and they're totally "blown out"; or (c) you're simply not qualified to use a flash at all, and your flash unit should be forcibly taken from you, even if that means ripping it from the camera body? Here's a quick fix to get your photo back from the "flash graveyard" while keeping your reputation, and camera parts, intact.

Step One:

Open the photo that is suffering from "flashaphobia." In the example shown here, the flash, mounted on the camera body, washed out the entire subject.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.1

Step Two:

Make a copy of the photo by pressing Command-J (PC: Control-J). This will create a layer titled "Layer 1."

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2

Step Three:

Next, change the Blend Mode of Layer 1 from Normal to Multiply from the pop-up menu at the top of the Layers palette. This Blend Mode has a "multiplier" effect, and brings back a lot of the original detail the flash "blew out."

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3

Step Four:

If the photo still looks washed out, you may need to make a duplicate of Layer 1. Just press Command-J (PC: Control-J), and this layer will be duplicated; this duplicate will already be in Multiply mode. Incidentally, because of the immutable laws of life, chances are that creating one layer with its Blend Mode set to Multiply won't be enough, but adding another layer (in Multiply mode) will be "too much." If that's the case, just go to the Layers palette and lower the Opacity setting of the top layer to 50% or less—this way, you can "dial in" just the right amount, and get the amount of flash looking right.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4

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