Techniques workbook Patrice huNTER

A space to collate and display advanced image editing techniques researched by myself and classmates.


High Dynamic Range or HDR as it is more commonly known, is a blend of images of the same scene with different levels of exposure in order to create one image with an unusually high dynamic range.

In order to create an HDR image you will need;

  • A camera with exposure settings.
  • (AEB Optional)
  • Tri-pod
  • A good eye

On location you will need to shoot a minimum 3 images of different exposure of the same scene to later merge into your HDR image.


o begin you will need to open your 3 shot images in bridge. Highlight those image and right click. Select and open in Camera Raw. You will then be brought to this window.

Once you have opened your images in CR you have the chance to make any minor changes to each of the Raw images. This could be altering WB however you don't want to do too much as editing will come later. Once you are happy with your 3 images, select them, right click and select 'Merge to HDR'

The window you are brought to has some options available to you and depending on your images the options you select will be different.

Align Images and Auto Tone are pretty self explanatory however the option to Deghost is probably your most useful. Deghost helps prevent doublings which is good when working in locations such as forests and there is wind (my case) or in the street and people are walking by.

Once merged you will need to save your new DNG file and then open in photoshop. You will have the opportunity to edit the newly blended image in camera raw prior to this.

Once the image is opened we are working with a 16bit image. In order to continue editing we are required to change this to a 32bit. Under the image menu hover over mode and select 32bit from the menu.

You will be greeted with an exposure slider at the bottom right which will allow you to see the amount of detail in the 32bit image. You will now want to TONE MAP. Tone mapping is a technique used to give the HDR image its cliche look.

I have used photomatix however there is many different tools and ways to do it.

Once your image is opened in Photomatix you can select from a number of presets but there is options to personalize this to your own preferences. Select the preset or settings that you wish and click okay.

The image is now a tone mapped HDR image. TA DA! However, in order to save you need to convert the image back to 16bit. This compresses the file data and allows for saving.

Exposure Blending

Exposure blending is similar to HDR in the respect it is increasing the dynamic range of the image but it is a different process.

To start open up your chosen raw image in ACR. You want to make adjustments that affect the sky, mid ground, foreground. Or you can concentrate of highlights, mid tones, and shadows. Play around with exposure, shadows, whites, blacks etc and then for further control move into your luminosity panel.

In here you can control certain aspects through color. For example the sky may be too light so I slide my blue slider down to darken.

Once you are happy save the image as a DNG (digital negative). This is so you are working with the best possible files when you load into photoshop. Depending on what you are doing, name the file something that you can easily distinguish what it is. I am only looking at the Sky and Foreground.

Once you have all your files and happy with the adjustments, select the files in bridge and click;

Tools > Photoshop > Load files into Photoshop layers...

Once loaded you will get an screen like above. Your two/three images loaded into layers in the same photoshop file. Your next step is to order them how you wish and create a layer mask on your top layer. My sky image is on top so I am painting through to bring out my lighter foreground.

As you can see from above, I have darkened my sky slightly and lightened my foreground to make the details pop. You can go into as much or as little detail as you want.

Displacement Map - Edgaras Borotinskas

To begin, open your images in photoshop. Once opened you want to create the displacement map that you are going to use. In order to create the map you have to go into Channels in your base image and chose from the Red, Green and Blue channels. You want the channel with the most contrast for the effect to be at its best

Mines was blue. Once you have your channel, make sure it is selected and right click then select duplicate. Once you duplicate the box in the above image will show up. Under document select NEW name it what you wish and click OK.

This creates a new file which you can then save as a PSD this is now your map.

To note: convert your base image to 8 bit (Image > Mode > 8 bit) Displacement maps must be 8 bits otherwise they will not work.

The next step is to go back onto your original image. Make sure you show all the layers in the channel box by clicking RGB before you continue.

Next you want to select the layer with the image you want to displace. Make sure the image is in view and from the filter tab select DISTORT > DISPLACE.

Make sure the values all match what is in the image above and click okay. This will then take you to select the displacement map that you previously created and saved from the channel that you duplicated.

Once you have selected this you now have a displaced image.

Final steps are to select your blending options. Best to use Overlay / Soft / Hard light.

Colour Management - Grading - Alan Gardiner

Colour grading refers to the technique used in post processing via photoshop, lightroom or other editing software in order to give the image a specific look or feel through the manipulation of color. This is done using colours that compliment each other such as Teal/Orange.

To begin i open my chosen image in photoshop and create 2 adjustment curve layers. I name one color and one luminosity and change the blending options on the drop down menu to match the names of my new layers.

In my first layer (color) I want to work in separate channels. So instead on working in the full RGB color space I only want to target separate colours at a time. Starting with red I make my adjustments as follows.

  • Red - Black slider to the left white slider to the right.
  • Green - Pulling the black point down and white up
  • Blue - Pulling black point down and white up

As you can see in the following image my colours in the image have shifted. Play about with the sliders in each of the channels until you find the desired effect.

Next I want to select my luminosity layer. I want to add 2 extra points onto the graph (seen below) and drag both of these points down until a point I am happy that my image is dark and moody enough.

Before and After

Blend If + Layer Masks - Andrew Sherriff

Blend If is a technique used to blend two or more images together to create a seamless effect. It can be as simple or as complicated as needed.

Images by Andrew

The above images show the simple steps taken to create a simple image using Blend If. To begin we want to load our images into photoshop as a stack. This can be done through photoshop or bridge.

Once the images are loaded, select your top layer and head down to the FX tab under the layers and select your blending options. Once you click you will be taken to a separate window that will have plenty options there for you to play with. We want to use the two sliders at the bottom of the box.

Use the sliders to create the effect that you want. You can also experiment with blur effects etc to complement the blending technique to further the look.

Layer Masks - Andrew Sherriff

Image by Andrew

The above image was created using 3 seperate images blended together using layer masks.

Layer masks put simply are used to make adjustments to an image without being destructive they are also useful to have complete control over the transparency of the full image. Using the opacity tool you are affecting the full layer however, applying a mask then gives you the control where you want to edit the opacity.

The above image was created by using layer masks to hide and show certain aspects of each layer for them to blend together. Using curves after to then edit the lighting etc for the images to fit together and make them look as if they have been shot together.

Monochrome - Alan Gardiner

Monochrome is a technique used to give more depth and control to creating a black and white image. Some black and white images can be flat and need a boost and monochrome is a technique that is used just for that.

To begin I open my image in photoshop and create a new gradient layer. From the properties box that pops up I want to select a black and white gradient and select reverse. (My photoshop decided to work back to front...) Once that is selected you can then move over onto the Gradient editor window.

Pay close attention to the slider at the bottom of the page. Here you want to click just under the box. A new point will be created. When you create a new point the options underneath the box come alive for you to customize this new point. You want points at 25, 50, and 75%. Click and change the percentage underneath.

We are not done! Once you have your points you want to edit the brightness to match the percentage. Your image might look a bit daft until this point. On the 25% point you want to click on that and edit the brightness in the new window that pops up. The brightness is under the B: box. change the value to match and do this with the other 2 points.

You now have the basis to now go ahead and play around with the sliders to your hearts content. This just allows you more control over the image. The more points the further control.

Pattern Texture - Aimèe Harris

Photoshop layer styles are a popular way to add an effect to an image, for example adding a drop shadow, to layers in a non-destructive way. With the right knowledge and experience, any effect can be achieved.

A pattern overlay is used to add a pattern to a particular layer. Using Pattern Overlay in conjunction with other effects can help you create different styles, with depth.

Step 1. Open the image you want to edit in.jpg format - Then create new Layer.

Step 2. Select "New Fill Layer" and select "Pattern".

This is the window that will pop up once you have selected 'Pattern'

Through this option you can select the colour and mode you want to use.

This is the effect that will be layer over your image. which looks a bit odd because it looks like a totally different image.

This is when you change the opacity of this layer to make the effect blend nicely with the background image.

So this the fished image with the pattern layered over the top. This has given the final photo some texture and a more rustic feel to the image.

LAB Sharpening & Colour - Aimèe Harris

LAB colourmode is a good choice when converting a photograph to black and white, as it seperates the light values from the colours an image. The colours are split into 2 channels, a & b. Using LAB to sharpen means working in the LAB colour space, but with the L-channel selected, which is along side the a & b. This only sharpens the black and white information, leaving the colour pixels untouched.


To convert an image from the RGB color mode to the Lab colour mode, we simply follow the same basic steps we used when we converted the image to Grayscale. Go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Mode (short for Colour Mode). A sub menu will appear listing all the colour modes we have to choose from in Photoshop. The mode that's currently being used will have a small checkmark beside it. To convert the image to Lab, select Lab Colour from the list:

Image > Mode > Lab Colour

You'll know that its changed to LAB when the histogram has changed from; the image on the left side to the image on the right hand side.

Nothing will seem to have happened to the image in the document window. To see the change that's taken place, we need to look in the Channels palette, which you'll find grouped in beside the Layers palette. Click on the name tabs at the top of the palettes to switch between them.

Here's what the three different channels - a Lightness channel which contains the brightness information for the image, and the two color channels "a" and "b"


By separating the lightness values from the colour in the image, the Lab colour mode has essentially created our black and white version for us. All we need to do is select it, and we can do that simply by clicking on the Lightness channel in the Channels palette. By selecting just the Lightness channel, we deselect both the "a" and "b" colour channels, hiding the colour, and leaving us with a black and white version of the photo in the document window.

Convert the image to Grayscale to remove the two unwanted color channels.

Photoshop will pop open a warning box asking if you're sure you want to discard the other channels. Click OK:

Photoshop wants to make sure you don't need the colour channels before it throws them away.

Again, nothing will seem to have happened to the image in the document window, but if we look at our Channels palette, we can see that our image is now made up of a single Gray channel, just as we saw in the Grayscale tutorial, and all of the color information has been completely removed:

In Grayscale mode, images contain only a single "Gray" channel with no additional color information.


If you want to have the original colour copy of the photo, if you save the image at the point it is at, and overwrite the original saved on your computer, the colour information will be lost forever. If you want to save your black and white version without losing the original color version, be sure to select Save As from under the File menu at the top of the screen and save the black and white version under a different name.


Sharpening is something that almost any image can benefit from. Like saturation, it can easily be ignored or overdone if you’re not careful. When done right, it’s a subtle change that results in a big improvement.

It seems that there are many ways to sharpen a photo, and the most common is Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask. It’s a fine tool for most cases, but it can produce terrible results when used incorrectly or without caution.


The RGB color mode is the most common to work with, so I’ll assume that most of us use this as our default. We can still work in RGB even though we’re doing adjustments in LAB color mode, it’s just a little extra work. So open up your image as you normally would and basically process the entire image until you’re happy with it.

Sharpening should occur as the very last step in your workflow for two main reasons: 1) It’s a very localized adjustment of brightness and any further processing will exaggerate it beyond your original intent, and 2) It’s a destructive process, so we’ll be using a copy layer for the sharpening — and if you stack adjustments on top of those layers, it makes life very difficult if you choose to go back and rework the sharpening. Make a copy of the visible image by doing a “Stamp Visible” command, press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac OS). This gives us a single layer that contains all of the underlying adjustments we’ve applied. Now take this layer and duplicate it to a new document. Once in that new document, change the colour mode to “LAB”.

press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac OS)

This message will appear asking you if you want to merge and flatten the background and Layer 1. Click Flatten.


The lightness channel contains all of the light and dark tones in the image while avoiding any noise caused by the color channels. Sharpening works by darkening the darks and lightening the lights at their boundaries. Any color noise will cause noisy sharpening. In this example, I’ll show the Unsharp Mask to sharpen the image. You could use whatever method you prefer in place of that.

Switch to the channels palette and select “Lightness”. The “A” and “B” channels should be deselected and your image should look like a black and white photo. Now, apply your sharpening directly to that channel. For the Unsharp Mask, you can find it under; Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Every image requires different settings, so don’t just assume that those numbers when you first select are the best for your image. Once you get the sharpness where you like it, apply the filter and reselect the “LAB” channel in your palette.

Liquify Tool - Alan Gardiner

Essentially, the “Liquify” tool is a very creative and fluid image editing or enhancement tool found within the Adobe Photoshop image editing application, that allows the free shifting and loose movement of pixels within an image. Although not considered to be a commonly used tool during the image editing process, due to the rather drastic changes that it can make to image if not properly used. However, the “Liquify” tool can be used for a wide variety of creative purposes such as the adjustment of shapes and forms within image, through the pushing, expansion and contraction of the pixels forming the image. As well as this, this tool can be used to add radial blurring to an image, which may only be of use if the photographer is intending to make drastic creative changes to their image, such as by adding a radial blur to areas of clouds or water, or to blur a face within an image.

Despite these drastic and harsh image editing tools, it would be assumed that the “Liquify” tool would only be of use to portrait, wedding and fashion photographers, due to it’s inclusion of the powerful and very effective “Face-Aware Liquify” tool, which would allow them to make small changes to a model’s face such as adjusting the size of their eyes, enhancing the lips, altering facial expressions and changing the proportions of the face.

The “Face-Aware Liquify” tool can be considered to be the most useful tool within the “Liquify” editing window, due to it’s ability to change the appearance of the human face very easily and effectively, making it a very useful tool to portrait and fashion photographers, allowing them to make very minute alterations to the face of their model, in order to enhance the visual appeal if required, to correct any distracting facial features and to manipulate the expression of the model if required. However, heavy application of these features to an image is generally frowned upon and is a serious area of conjecture amongst the public and photographers today, as the human face is being enhanced to such an extent, that it no longer shows an accurate and realistic interpretation

With an image open in the main Photoshop editing window, the “Liquify tool can be accessed via the “Filter” tab (see example above) at the top of the open Adobe Photoshop window, which in turn will open up the “Liquify” editing workspace, displaying the image to be adjusted and all of the available tools and features, as well as a control panel allowing the extent of the manipulations to be changed. Shown on the left side of this new, open window, are all of the usable tools for shifting and moving the pixels within the image. These tools include:

  • Face - AwareLiquify
  • Forward Warp
  • Twirl Clockwise
  • Pucker tool
  • Bloat tool
  • Push Left Tool

As well as this, this panel also contains, tools such as the "Reconstruct" and "Restore All" which can be used to reverse the effects of these alterations but are not available when using the "Face - Aware Liquify" tool.

Liquify Tool - Forward Warp

Firstly, this tutorial will demonstrate the use of the “Forward Warp” tool, which is used to freely shift the pixels within an image in different directions, depending on the size, pressure and density values of brush being used to manipulate the pixels.

The “Forward Warp” tool can be used by selecting the hand icon from the tool panel on the left of the “Liquify” tool editing window and then by clicking and dragging the circular or square brush areas over the image, in order to achieve the desired effect.

Shown below, is an example of the application of this tool, in which the “Forward Warp” tool has been used to change the contours of the models face, to give it a more uniform appearance. Furthermore, in order to reverse this effect the “Reconstruct” brush or “Restore All” function is used to restore the image back to it’s original state.

Forward Warp

The “Twirl Clockwise” tool can be used within the “Liquify” editing window in order to apply a specific creative effect to an image, through the application of the brush tool that will twist and contort the pixels within the specified area of the image. However, it is very difficult to find uses for this tool when editing images within Photoshop.

This effect can be applied to an area of an image, by firstly clicking the twirl icon in the tool panel on the left of the editing window, adjusting the brush settings if required and then by clicking and dragging the brush over an area of an image, where the “twirl” effect is to be added.

Using the image of a street scene in Munich, the next two pages will show an example of the use of this tool within an image. The following page will show a screenshot of the image in it’s original state and then another screenshot with the effect being applied to the advertising poster in the background of the image, in order to give it a very contorted appearance.


With reference to the sample image above, it would now be useful to demonstrate a method of reducing and refining the harshness of this tool, by using the “Smooth” tool. This tool can be used to reduce the harsh effects of the “Twirl Clockwise” tool, as well as any of the other pixel manipulating tools within the editing workspace.

Working with “Smooth” tool selected, the effects of any “Liquify” pixel editing can be reduced or made more subtle by clicking and dragging the brush over the necessary part of the image, where the editor wishes to lessen the effect.

Shown below is a comparative example of the drastically altered image and an image in which the effects of the “Twirl Clockwise” have been greatly reduced.


Using a similar method to that described previously, the entire effects of the “Twirl Clockwise” tool and other “Liquify” tools, can also be removed completely by using the “Reconstruct” tool, which will restore the image to it’s original state, prior to any editing.

In order to use the “Reconstruct” tool, it is first selected from the tools panel on the left side of the “Liquify” editing window and then by clicking and holding the left mouse button on an edited section of the image, that area reverts back to it’s original state. Furthermore, this tool is particularly effective, as pixel manipulations via the use any of the “Liquify” tool can be very strong or have a harsh effect upon an image. Shown below is an example of the reconstruction of an edited area of an image using the “Reconstruct” tool.


Next, the “Pucker” tool will be demonstrated. As the name suggests, the “Pucker” tool is used to contract the pixels within a specific area of an image using the brush tool, again with the size, density and pressure values given to the brush, determining the effect and strength of the application. In order to begin using this tool, it first has to be selected from the tools panel, on the left side of the open “Liquify” editing window. After selecting this tool, an area of pixels may be contracted, by clicking and holding down the left mouse button. In doing so, the pixels within the specified area begin to converge and move inwards.

An example of the application of this tool can be seen on the following two pages, showing both the process and a comparison between the image before and after the use of the “Pucker” tool.


Essentially, the “Bloat” tool works in the opposite way to the “Pucker” and by clicking and holding down the left hand mouse button on a specific area of an image, the pixels will appear to expand and burst outwards, seemingly enlarging that part of the image.

Displayed below is an example of this technique being used within image, as well as a comparative image, with the “Bloat” tool being used to enlarge both the collar of the t-shirt and the eyebrows.

Face Aware

Finally, perhaps the most used and most effective tool found within the “Liquify” editing window, the “Face Aware” tool, will now be demonstrated.

The “Face Aware” tool is very popular amongst portrait, wedding and fashion photographers, due to the amount of small manipulations, adjustments and refinements that can be applied to the face of a model or subject, which combined with an easy to use interface, allows for fast and effective editing.

In order to begin using this tool, the “Face Aware” tool is selected from the “Liquify” tools panel, located on the left side of the “Liquify” editing window. After selection, the user can then decided how to apply the facial adjustments that they wish to make, either by using the sliders on the right of the window or by manually dragging the handles, arrows and control points that appear around the various facial features, when highlighted by the mouse pointer. When using this tool the image editor should be aware not to make any drastic alterations to the image , with the intended changes being applied very lightly in order to avoid creating a very unnatural and false representation of the subject that was originally photographed

Displayed over the next few pages, are examples of the “Face Aware” tool in use, showing the both the application of the “Face Aware” tool and comparative screenshots, of the images before and after.


Created with images by danielam - "coffee flower still life"

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