Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Localizing Color

This particular effect is sometimes over done, but I'll still pull it out at least once per event. It's a good way to bring your viewers attention to some particular color or object. In my example, I took a picture of a bride and groom kissing while holding out their bouquet. The scene is already not very rich in color beside the flowers so this was a good sample to demonstrate the Dodge & Burn tool in Aperture.

Dodge & Burn is a plug-in that shipped with Aperture 2.1. When Aperture 2.1 launched, the big new feature was support for plug-ins. It's an incredibly useful plug-in (especially for those without Photoshop) since it includes a whole collection of tools for editing your photos. The Dodge & Burn plug-in includes:
  • Dodge (Lighten)
  • Burn (Darken)
  • Saturate
  • Desaturate
  • Sharpen
  • Blur
  • Contrast
  • Fade
To begin, right click on the photo and select "Edit with" > "Dodge & Burn." Aperture will make a copy of the file (sorry, no more non-destructive changes!) and load that in the window. In the upper left drop down you'll see all the tools. There's only three settings with each tool.
  • Size is the size of the brush. You can also change the size by using the scroll wheel or dragging two fingers on the track pad.
  • Softness refers to the edge of the brush. The lower the number the harder the edge. I generally go for something pretty close to 1.00. If I want a harder edge, I just go back through the area with a smaller brush.
  • Strength is how much of the effect you want. For my picture I knew I wanted a completely desaturated look, so I pushed strength all the way up.
For my picture, I chose to desaturate. Then I simply brush where I want my picture to be desaturated. It really helps to have a tablet when doing a complicated photo like this. The plug-in supports pressure sensitive controls which makes getting this done a lot faster. Once the painting of desaturation is done, simply hit Save in the lower right hand corner. DONE! (Ok, not really done. Once I finished painting, then I upped the contrast, saturation, vibrance, and sharpening; then I added a heavy dose of vignette.)

A big caveat about using plug-ins -- this one or any other one. Using plug-ins is DESTRUCTIVE! Aperture makes a copy of the image as a TIFF or PDF (check your settings) and that's what's used to edit. When you are in a plug-in or export, you're manipulating that file. Once you hit Save, that's it. There's no going back to some middle state like you can when you are just playing with your adjustments palette. Once you've got that TIFF/PDF duplicate, that's it. If you put that file into another plug-in, the "Master" or "Original" state of that image is whatever you last saved. So for my picture, it would be the post-processed version, not the true full color master image as you'd expect. One other thing. Once you have the TIFF/PDF duplicate, whenever you send that file to edit in an external editor or another plug-in, it no longer creates another duplicate. So if you want to create multiple states, then you have to manually duplicate the duplicate before you drop it into an external editor or plug-in.

Click through the thumbnail above to see a larger version of the final image. Congrats M&R on your wedding!