Hi, I’m Kira DeDecker (“key-ra dee-decker”) and I’m a pet photographer serving Arizona’s greater Phoenix Metro area. Welcome to my blog! This is where I share not only my most recent work but also my life with you. Client sneak peeks, Facebook recaps, announcements, updates, awesome new offerings and the occasional (okay, frequent) story about my crazy but amazing life with my three dogs – Sox, Bixby and Waffles.
Pull up a chair and make sure it’s nice and comfy because you will want to stay awhile. It’s great to have you here!
I love Photoshop. I know some people snub their noses at the idea of post processing but I personally feel like ever photo needs a finishing touch. It’s essential, especially if you are shooting in RAW format!
My thoughts on retouching and editing is this: it’s the salt and pepper to a well cooked meal – it enhances and adds the finishing touches but doesn’t make it. You can’t cover bad cooking by pouring a lot of salt and pepper on it (that’s just a nice way of saying you can’t polish a turd). I always try to get everything right in camera but sometimes I have to use Photoshop because my best was just…well, not my best or in cases like the one below, things were just out of my control – something all pet photogs understand since our subject are dogs with minds of their own. When that happens I have to do some processing tricks to get the photos where they need to be.
I love this shot. I love the composition of Bella in the corner walking towards the camera and I love the green grass and the pink petals from a nearby tree. But there is one problem with this shot — the background is an ugly unattractive parking lot! Instead of trashing this shot, I imported into Photoshop and did some editing to end up with an image that I love (and that I hope my client will love as well).
(Because it comes up almost every time I post about post processing — I don’t use commercial/bought actions or presets. I’ve tried using them but they’re just not for me. I do, however, use my own actions and presets that I made myself just as a time saver. In general, anything that takes more than two steps I make into an action.)
Normally, this would be it as far as editing goes, but like I said, I REALLY dislike that parking lot behind Bella.
Now here comes the tricky part. Since I’m working with an ugly parking lot and not a blown out sky, I have to fake it. On a new blank and separate layer, I use a soft brush set to white and paint over where I want to put the sky. If you paint over something you want to keep, you can just erase over it since you are on a new layer (plus, using new layers instead of duplicating the original reduces file bloat)
Now technically, you can take you own photos of the sky and impose them or grab one from another photo but I live in metro-Phoenix. No one ever comes to the Valley of the Sun and looks up at the sky and says “what nice fluffy clouds you have”, we mostly just have blue cloudless sky here in the desert. Lots of people have skies that you can buy or get for free. In this case, I used EW Coulture’s free Cloudy Skies pack (found here).
Using the Move tool (shortcut V), I drag and drop the Sky overlay I want and place it in. I put the Sky overlay layer before all my workflow adjustments so it matches the rest of the photo. Next I use a reversed layer mask and and carefully MASKED in the elements I wanted (Never erase from your image unless it’s a new blank layer. You never know when you might need that data back. Masking is your BBF!) I then tweaked with the layer opacity, lowering it to about 62%.
The Sky overlay is where I want, it’s masked in and looks nice and natural but I want the blue in the sky to match the vibrancy of the grass and pink petals. So I make a Selective Color adjustment layer and add more cyan and decrease the magenta and yellows in the blues. Since I don’t want that selective color appling to the entire image, I create a clipping mask to the Sky overlay.
And that’s it! If you need any more tips or advice on post processing, please feel free to contact me. I would be glad to try and help.
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Kira DeDecker | firstname.lastname@example.org | Arizona Pet Photography