Citylights workflow for PSE3

Started Apr 18, 2006 | Discussions thread
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CityLights Forum Pro • Posts: 12,550
Citylights workflow for PSE3

Hello, I have revised my workflow for photoshop elements 3 a little and though a few people might be interested:

I shoot RAW and make any adjustment possible to help the image in the RAW editor except sharpening. I set that the very low or off.

Once you are in the full picture editor and RAW is done. Or you are starting with a JPG image...

Duplicate the background three times. Then create an adjustment layer for gradient map from black to white on top of the stack. Click on the eye next to the layer and turn all the layers off except the gradient map and the duplicate background right under it. Then use layer merge visible. You should have a black and white image layer on top of your two duplicate backgrounds. Click all the layers on again.

Now, the bottom layer should be your original background. On the next layer up set the blending mode to screen. (if you want to lighten the image, or multiply if you want to darken the image) On the next layer up set the blending mode to soft light. On the top black and white layer set the blending mode to soft light as well.

Now adjust the opacity of all three top layers to 10%. Fine tune the opacity of the screen (or multiply) layer to lighten (or darken) the image. Fine tune the opacity color soft light layer to adjust the contrast and saturation. Fine tune the opacity of the Black and White soft light layer to adjust contrast. These are all contrast and color adjustments. For a very contrasty image I might change some of these to 25 or 30%

When you are satisfied, flatten all layers. Then duplicate the background layer once. Run USM 20, 40, 0 on the duplicate. Reduce the opacity of the duplicate down to 10 to 40% where the image looks good. This is a clarifying step that removes haze and adds a little clarity. It also adds a little contrast. Then flatten all layers again.


Now duplicate the background layer three times again. On the top layer run the high pass filter with a radius anywhere from 5 to 10 trying to minimize any hallows that you might see after the filter has run. Change the blending mode of the high pass layer to hard light and reduce the opacity down to anywhere from 10 to 20. I usually leave it at 10.

On the next layer down run USM 300, 0.3, 0, change the blending mode to luminosity, and reduce the opacity down to anywhere from 75 to 100%. I usually leave it at about 80%.

View the image at 100% and fine tune the opacity of these two layers until you get a sharp image with very few or no sharpening artifacts.

Now insert an empty layer between the bottom two unchanged background layers. From the menu use Layer, Group with Previous on both the high pass sharpening layer, USM sharpening layer, and top unchanged background layer. Now with a soft edged brush paint on the empty layer anything in the image that you want sharp. This is usually your subject and it is usually not the sky.

At this point I save the image to a large image directory or print.

Then I resize the image for web viewing, usually 800x600 pixels. Now look at the image at 100% size for sharpness. Up the high pass and USM layer opacity until it looks sharp then save to a small image directory for posting to the web.

That's my workflow. I hope it helps!

That is what I used for these images:

1/200s f/8.0 at 17.0mm iso200

1/200s f/11.0 at 17.0mm iso200

1/100s f/11.0 at 21.0mm iso200

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