Fooling around with Photoshop

A pelican brakes with its feet as it skis to a halt

I guess everybody knows how powerful the world’s best known photo editing program is. You can fool a lot of the people with images manipulated in PS, as many a person on Facebook can attest. Apart from fooling people, Photoshop can be used to create stunning digital masterpieces, putting together layer upon layer of images and effects. The other half of that, though, is it’s not the easiest piece of software to use. There are so many things you can do with it that the sheer complexity can thwart the beginner.

I’ve bought myself an online course to learn how to use this beast, and though it’s early days, I’ve discovered a few things, made some pretty pictures. That photo up the top is a (pretty nice, if I say so myself) photo of a pelican landing on the water. Not long ago a friend sent me a link to the best bird photos in the world 2017. And stunning they certainly are. Everybody loved the photo of the pelican landing on the water at dawn (or dusk), but I’ll admit to wondering if a little bit of Photoshop had been added to the mix. I’m a tiaro at Photoshop magic, but I thought I’d have some fun and see what I could do with the picture up there.

And here it is. I cut out the pelican and the trail of water from the original picture. Then I painted a graduated orange background and pasted the pelican onto it. That done, I copied the pelican image, then turned it over and foreshortened it a little to create the reflection. To make it look less like a mirror image, I added some distortion with a ‘liquefy’ filter which I found as a plug-in on the web. It’s not a photo anymore, it’s a piece of digital art, but I like it.Apart from anything else, it adds drama to the picture, and highlights the bird.

But then I had a bit more of a think. A bird landing like that creates ripples. And as it happens, I had a picture of ripples .

I inverted the colours to make it orange-based, then added the image as a layer, where I fiddled about with the perspective and how it would fit. And this is my finished masterpiece.

One of the things about photography is that you have to work with the limitations of the camera. It’s a piece of kit, with limited capabilities, unlike the human eye, which has a powerful editing system of its own. We don’t JUST see with our eyes. If you’re walking along a beach and a bird flies up, you can still see the detail of the beach because your brain fills in the gaps based on the information it collected before the bird appeared. So you can see both aspects of the scene, even though you might be concentrating on the flying bird. The camera can’t. The bird’s in focus. in movement, so what’s behind it is fuzzy.

In Photoshop you can get around that by combining two images, one of the scene, the other of the flying bird.

A Brahmani kite rises from the beach

Here’s a photo of a Brahmini kite in flight. He’s just taken off from the tidal flats. Nice picture of the bird, pretty ordinary one of the background. Now here’s a nice background. A bit boring, except for the clouds.

Cumulus clouds over the bay

Put them together, and we see what our eye/brain would see.

Apart from anything else, fooling around with photos is a lot of fun.

Here’s another one I prepared earlier. Learning more about realistic shadows, too.

The original photo of three pelicans flying in formation

An idyllic beach scene

And the final product

One thought on “Fooling around with Photoshop

Comments are closed.