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jackiesimmonds
10-09-2004, 03:02 AM
I wanted to share with you guys. I just discovered, in Photoshop, the most helpful thing - funny how life works, I spotted this information after replying to a post in the Studio when I commented on shadows and how photos often make the shadows too dark.

If you have a photo with dark shadows, and you want to see more of what is "in" the shadow, have a look at this. (I dont use photoshop often, so this was a revelation.)

Here is my photo. VERY dark shadows.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Oct-2004/1805-israel_garden1.jpg

Now, when you have your photo on the screen, hit Control/L and up comes a "levels histogram" box. p[lay around with the two sliders, and watch the shadows miraculously lighten! This is less contrasty than I would want to work from, but I can see stuff in the shadows that I could not see before.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Oct-2004/1805-israel_garden2.jpg

If you look hard, you can actually see the paving stones in the shadow area! Amazing. On my screen, in the original size, it is even clearer.


With this one, I adjusted the pic first with the Unsharpen tool - recreating the contrasts better, too much from a photographic viewpoint. Then I used the Histogram tool. Check it against the first one above - what a difference.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Oct-2004/1805-israel_garden3.jpg

Do try it, it is SUCH fun.

By the way, the article I found also shows how to correct distorted verticals, you know, when you get your buildings leaning inwards. If you want to know how to do this, let me know and I will tell you what it says.

For those of you who know Photoshop, I daresay this is old news. But it was new to me.


J

Khadres
10-09-2004, 08:08 AM
Thanks for the tips! You're a master at shadows and I have copied everything you've ever posted about them to my "Tips from the WC Experts" file so I can locate them when I need to refresh my memory. These tips about Photoshop are very useful! Thanks again!

lindadavis
10-09-2004, 10:13 AM
The camera tends to lose midtones, those tones between shadows (the darkest tones) and highlights. The quickest way to restore them in photoshop is to go into the levels dialogue box (control L on pc, command L on mac) and move the center triangle under the box to the left. That will only affect the midtones and leave the highlights and darkest tones the same. The triangle all the way on the left controls your darkest tones and the triangle on the right controls highlights. The slider bar on the very bottom can either darken all the tones in the image or lighten them all at once.

You can also go in under "Image" on the menu bar, then "Adjustments", then "Variations". Photoshop will show you previews of your image with all kinds of variations on lightness, darkness, color balance and saturation, and you can adjust the highlights, midtones and shadows there as well. It's really a neat and easy tool to use.

Linda D

Deborah Secor
10-09-2004, 02:00 PM
Cool beans, Jackie!!! Thanks so much for showing this--and Linda, you're a treasure trove of information! I've seen that silly levels box and never figured out what it meant--which would have required the time and inclination to open the book--so thanks to you too! I only have Photoshop Elements but it's becoming a 'must have' program more and more as I discover what it can do!

Deborah

jackiesimmonds
10-10-2004, 07:24 AM
glad you were pleased to find out about this, Dee, it is SO helpful, isn't it. I am a slightly reluctant and nervous photoshop user, but do keep on finding useful little bits and bobs in the programme.

J

Kathryn Wilson
10-10-2004, 09:47 AM
Jackie, what a wonderful demo on the uses of a photoshop tool. I use Levels all the time, but haven't thought of using it for "seeing into shadows".

I am curious though on the "unsharpen" that you used in your second try - what do you feel it did for this process? I've used the sharpen tool, but not the unsharpen - what did it do for the contrasts that brighten/contrast does not do?

Whatever it did, it worked well.

lindadavis
10-10-2004, 09:59 AM
I just went into Photoshop Elements and found the levels dialogue box by going under "enhance" in the menu bar, then "adjust brightness/contrast", then "levels".

Photoshop Elements also has a "color variations" option that's not quite as extensive as "variations" in photoshop, but it will help you remove any color cast (say you're image is looking too green overall, or too yellow) and show you a bunch of options. It does isolate the highlights, midtones and shadows (not shadows literally, but shadows meaning the darkest tones). You can find it under "enhance", then "adjust color", then "color variations".

Hope that helps. :-)

Linda D

jackiesimmonds
10-10-2004, 10:14 AM
Jackie, what a wonderful demo on the uses of a photoshop tool. I use Levels all the time, but haven't thought of using it for "seeing into shadows".

I am curious though on the "unsharpen" that you used in your second try - what do you feel it did for this process? I've used the sharpen tool, but not the unsharpen - what did it do for the contrasts that brighten/contrast does not do?

Whatever it did, it worked well.

Good grief, no point in asking me WHY or HOW it worked...I just did what it said in the article to do, and it worked well, much to my surprise. So ... if it works for ya, then why not do it???!!! :cat:

Kathryn Wilson
10-10-2004, 10:44 AM
LOL - I am working with some evening sunset and night time photos - talk about shadows, I can hardly see what is happening, much less painting from them! Will have to give it a go and see what happens. :)

Artistammy
10-10-2004, 06:59 PM
This does help alot. I used a different photo program (don't have Photoshop) to see more detail in the shadows for my "Please Come In" painting. I just lightened the whole pic to see the shadows.

jackiesimmonds
10-20-2004, 11:17 AM
am bringing this back up, because I wonder how many of you thought for a moment about what COLOUR, or COLOURS, you would use, for the shadows in the photos I have shown? (this thought came about after responding to another thread about the colour of shadows.)

I would be interested to hear your response ...what colours you would use...AND WHY.

It's a kinda test. See how many gold stars you can earn.

Jackie

lindadavis
10-20-2004, 11:37 AM
I'll bite. My guess is that the colors in the shadows should lean towards the opposite of the colors of the light hitting the objects on the opposing side. So if it's a warm yellowish light, the shadows should lean towards the cool violets, etc.

Mikki Petersen
10-20-2004, 11:53 AM
This tool works especially well in salvaging photos too, especially digital photos. While in Carlsbad Caverns with his new digital camera, many of my husband's photos showed up black. We spent a fun evening using the lightening tool to see images magically spring up before our eyes. Seems the data is all stored even though the image appears black. Never thought to use it for interpreting shadows though, Jackie. Great idea!

Deborah Secor
10-20-2004, 12:20 PM
Oooooo, a test! I love taking tests...I always liked aceing them when I was in school. Buuuuuut I think at this point, though it's tempting to answer it since I just taught how to paint shadows in my class yesterday, I'll wait and see if others have answers. Gold stars? Wow--I love gold stars, too! (Does this mean I'm easily motivated by shallow rewards? :wink2: LOL)

Linda, your answer is classic. But what COLORs would you use? (Ooops, I forgot--I'm not the one asking the questions...I now defer to Jackie.... :o )

:music: Jeopardy theme music plays :music: <drumming fingers waiting for more answers>

Deborah

Mikki Petersen
10-20-2004, 12:58 PM
I would use a mixture of sage-y green and light umber with maybe touches of lavender.

Kathryn Wilson
10-20-2004, 01:07 PM
I'll bite - depends on what you are going to use for the rest of the painting. If you want a warm scene, I would cool the shadows with blues and purples, with touches of color reflecting from the objects that have shadows.

jackiesimmonds
10-20-2004, 01:32 PM
I would use a mixture of sage-y green and light umber with maybe touches of lavender.


WHY? I want , specifically, to know WHY you would choose those colours. There has to be a reason, I am afraid.

jackiesimmonds
10-20-2004, 01:34 PM
I'll bite - depends on what you are going to use for the rest of the painting. If you want a warm scene, I would cool the shadows with blues and purples, with touches of color reflecting from the objects that have shadows.

Yes OK, as far as this goes. As above, I want more information. WHAT touches of colour reflecting from the objects that have shadows ... what colour would those objects be?

See ... we are dealing with tricky subject matter here. Greyish stone is one of the hardest things to interpret. You need to have a reason why you push the colour one way or another.

jackiesimmonds
10-20-2004, 01:38 PM
Oooooo, a test! I love taking tests...I always liked aceing them when I was in school. Buuuuuut I think at this point, though it's tempting to answer it since I just taught how to paint shadows in my class yesterday, I'll wait and see if others have answers. Gold stars? Wow--I love gold stars, too! (Does this mean I'm easily motivated by shallow rewards? :wink2: LOL)

Linda, your answer is classic. But what COLORs would you use? (Ooops, I forgot--I'm not the one asking the questions...I now defer to Jackie.... :o )

:music: Jeopardy theme music plays :music: <drumming fingers waiting for more answers>

Deborah

LOL! Deborah, I love the enthusiasm!! I dont actually need to know the names of the colours, cos different manufacturers use different terms - I want, really, only a general term ... warmish orangey-cream, to me, is a colour, for instance. Cream isn't enough information. Gradually, interesting answers should slowly emerge thro the posts and my responses. We may all learn something from this.

As for the gold stars, we all need motivation sometimes!! :)

Mikki Petersen
10-20-2004, 01:50 PM
I'm thinking of the shadows in the foreground across the terrace. The stone looks sort of sandstone colored to me with a warm light. In the shadow then would be a darker, cooler shade of the yellow which would be a cool brown with a cool green tone from the tree and lavender where the shade is lighter because it is a cool contrast to the yellow in the light.

Kathryn Wilson
10-20-2004, 02:28 PM
Not sure if I am supposed to answer from your point of view and what you would use - or what I would use. But if I were doing this painting, I would be pushing the colors probably more than you would (maybe) - I find the photo very blah, so for the stones I might come up with a mixture of pink/orange/umber in dashes of color and some of that color would be reflected into the shadows on the patio. The patio stones I would be pushing more towards sunny tones of creamy yellow - but would I lay in that color first or the shadow first, it's hard to say. I've played around with putting in the shadows first, then swiping the "original color" over the top and it has worked well that way too.

The chairs could be a deep garden green, or a deep blue (or even red/orange) if that worked in the color scheme. But whatever color they would be, it would be very lightly reflected in the shadows.

As you can tell, I do a lot of experimenting with color while painting -

Khadres
10-20-2004, 11:10 PM
I'm sitting here scratching my head and squinting....geez, I dunno! And we have to say WHY, too???? Heck, I never know WHY! :confused:

bogbeast
10-21-2004, 02:31 AM
I'll bite, I'll bite---use your very most favorite color, Jackie, GRAY!!!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :evil:

(See, I read your shadow comments in the other thread, too!! But I only use gray to adjust a hue because I don't have the right one in my box, and darn little of that :D )

jackiesimmonds
10-21-2004, 03:34 AM
Impete and Kyle... you get gold stars. Good reasoning going on there, just what it needs.

Khadres...no gold stars at all I am afraid. Read the two posts above. THAT is what I am after.

The shadow area HAS to be considered IN RELATION TO THE SUNLIT AREA. And in relation to its local colour. Some decisions would HAVE to be taken with this rather, as has been said, "blah"-coloured photo. Once you decide upon the colours to use for the sunwashed stone, then you can decide about the colours to use in the shadow area and the decisions must relate to each other. "I will use xxx colours for the sunlit stone, and therefore I realise that I need to use xxxxx colours for some of the shadow areas, and xxx colours for the areas of reflected light and colour, and xxx colour for the very darkest parts where there is hardly any light at all"

There are times when one can get away with freewheeling, slapping in some unpredictable colour for fun and hoping that whatever you do will "work" - but that is taking a chance, and when it comes off, it is great, but when it doesnt come off, you are left floundering, not having the first clue what to do.

It isn't really good enough to say " I never know why". You need to know why. Then, if your decisions dont work all that well, you can analyse why not. And then make it work.


Each artists needs to use intellect along with creativity. And if he or she knows nothing much about colour, and how it "works", then they must teach themselves. No excuses. There are books galore to read. Learning a little bit at a time, and adding that knowledge to one's store of knowledge, will pay huge dividends.

Nita Leland in her book "exploring color" says "Awareness of colour AS A VITAL PART OF THE STRUCTURE OF A PAINTING is essential to the development of the work as an organised entity. Plan the hue, value and intensity of every color area, its temperature, size and placement, so that the painting will be a unified composition..........As you discipline yourself to analyze color and understand what color can contribute to your painting, you will no longer be limited in your expression by your untutored intuition alone".

also

"it is better to know the rules and deliberately break them, than to diminsh the power of color by a careless and casual attitude". I agree with her.
There is a science to colour, which, when learned, can then be used instintively and naturally. Guesswork just won't cut it.

Jackie

Kathryn Wilson
10-21-2004, 08:31 AM
Yay, I got a "GOLD STAR" - :clap:

Thanks for making me think about what "I think" while going through the process of painting. :D

Khadres
10-21-2004, 08:41 AM
Actually, I wasn't being that serious in my comment...i do try to think these things through, but often it's difficult to describe the thought processes or rationale I wind up with.

Your article on shadows is especially useful (I think it was an article in the archives, altho it might've been a thread...it had wonderful examples in it) in showing what you mean.

That being said, however, it seems that the answers the others have given show a bit of diverse opinion as to what the "rules" are exactly. In other words...does one always go for opposite temperature shadows with reflected colors where needed? Another question I have is this: if two things are in shadow....say the patio surface and a shaded chair sitting on it...since the chair's local color will be shadowed and not its "lighted" color, what color does THAT cast on the patio stones? A touch of the lighted color or just a darker version of the patio surface color or what? Or does a shadowed thing's shadow really exist...I THINK it CAN if it's blocking part of the overall light, but... I'm just asking to learn here. You're much better at articulating this stuff!

jackiesimmonds
10-21-2004, 09:20 AM
Actually, I wasn't being that serious in my comment...i do try to think these things through, but often it's difficult to describe the thought processes or rationale I wind up with.I know what you mean. My response was not so much geared at you, but was a general response aimed at anyone painting shadows

Your article on shadows is especially useful (I think it was an article in the archives, altho it might've been a thread...it had wonderful examples in it) in showing what you mean.

That being said, however, it seems that the answers the others have given show a bit of diverse opinion as to what the "rules" are exactly. In other words...does one always go for opposite temperature shadows with reflected colors where needed? the answer to that is ...often, yes. Sometimes, no. It requires quite a lot of intense observation to see where any so-called "rule" is being broken because sometimes, this does happen. But it does help to have a general guideline, doesn't it?
Lucy Willis, in her book "Light, How to see it, How to Paint It" says that Eugene Chevreul, the French chemist, pbserved that shadows are often tinged with colours opposite (on the colour wheel) to the colour of the object casting the shadow. His theories had a huge influence on the work of the Impressionist painters, who started to look closely at shadows, and see a huge array of colours in them. It is because of the way the Impressionists worked, that we now discuss shadows in terms of colour. Sometimes, the colour of a shadowed area is simply a darker version of the local colour of the object ... but where there is bright light, such as outdoors on a sunny day, shadows then tend to pick up the colours around them. And they often contain a hint of sky colour. And they may contain some of the "complement" (opposite on the colour wheel) of the local colour of the object casting the shadow.

Another question I have is this: if two things are in shadow....say the patio surface and a shaded chair sitting on it...since the chair's local color will be shadowed and not its "lighted" color, what color does THAT cast on the patio stones? A touch of the lighted color or just a darker version of the patio surface color or what? Or does a shadowed thing's shadow really exist...I THINK it CAN if it's blocking part of the overall light, but... I'm just asking to learn here. You're much better at articulating this stuff!No, I don't think I can give you a wonderfully articulate answer to this one. I would just have to use my eyes, in situ. I would not trust a photograph for one moment. There is no question that when you are in front of your subject, you can see SO much more ...consider that wonderful comment from Kitty in another thread about how many colours the human eye can see, and how many a camera can record. Then, I would also go and look at the work of a great master, and see if that would throw any light (pardon the pun!! :) ) on the subject. I am not the last word in painting shadows; I tend to stick fairly closely to simple colour science, but when painting "in the field", I do try hard to observe what is going on, and to use that information where possible. It's the best I can do - or say.

Shadows can be so beautiful, if painted with some care and consideration. They should be luminous, not flat, heavy and lumpy. They can be colourful, rather than grey. They can have crisp edges sometimes, and at other times, they can be soft and subtle. Without beautifully painted shadow areas, our light areas will not sparkle as they should.

meowmeow
10-22-2004, 07:35 AM
It isn't really good enough to say " I never know why". You need to know why. Then, if your decisions dont work all that well, you can analyse why not. And then make it work.

That is so true, Jackie! It is something I am learning over and over. I find if I understand why something works then maybe I can duplicate the success...if I don't get it then I probably will continue to struggle.
I remember a painting a did a while back that came out really well. You commented that it was a good triangulated composition, and that of course, I must have known that. Well, at that point I didn't have a clue! But your saying it helped me to see the triangle there and to begin to understand to look for those kind of things when working on a composition. Just recognizing a nice composition by gut it fine but unfortunately compositions don't always present themselves that easily.
This is interesting about the colors. I know I have a pretty good color eye and I see a lot...I know I am getting better at getting that into a painting. But I have trouble verbalizing what is going on. Reading this thread is helping me begin to sort it out. Not that I will necessarily be able to coherently explain my decisions to someone but at least I will know in my own head what is going on.
Thanks once again for taking the time to work things through and explain and help us all learn.

Sandy

sundiver
10-22-2004, 01:25 PM
By the way, the article I found also shows how to correct distorted verticals, you know, when you get your buildings leaning inwards. If you want to know how to do this, let me know and I will tell you what it says.

J

Yes, please! :)

lindadavis
10-22-2004, 02:06 PM
Yes OK, as far as this goes. As above, I want more information. WHAT touches of colour reflecting from the objects that have shadows ... what colour would those objects be?

See ... we are dealing with tricky subject matter here. Greyish stone is one of the hardest things to interpret. You need to have a reason why you push the colour one way or another.


Well, here's my rationale, but I don't know if it's right or not. If the light is yellowish, then it is made up of photons with the wavelength that produce yellow. The shadow is blocking out the yellow wavelength photons, so you would be seeing the opposite wavelength photons, which would be purplish. But there would also be slight reflection from the surrounding objects, so the color of the objects would be in the shadow, too. But now that I'm overthinking this, I'm starting to disagree with myself.

This always happened to me when I took philosophy. I'd spend so much time examining the arguments to my theorems that I'd talk myself out of them. :eek:

sundiver
10-22-2004, 08:59 PM
Posterising those shadows separates out some colors. Not sure about that olive green though, and there's not much color at all in the sunny area... looks like reflected sky, mostly
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Oct-2004/6393--israel_gardenshadows_posterised.jpg
And of course those colors can only be found in the context of the less-than-perfect photo itself....