I’m pleased to have Tami Goeckeritz of Tami G. Photography back with another dramatic before and after photo editing blueprint. Tami is always able to transform her photos with such drama and richness using the Michelle Kane Photoshop Actions. For this incredible before and after, she explains step-by-step how to create this warm and dreamy artistic look. What you will notice about Tami’s process, is that she makes full use of layer masks. Nearly all MK actions have a layer mask attached. The action will either play with a white mask that shows the action’s effects over the entire photo or a black mask that hides the effect and can be painted with a white brush to reveal those effects. It’s my belief that creating an edit, especially a very artsy one like this, means you must really use those layer masks to add the effects in just where you want them and to the degree or opacity that you want them. Layer masks give you full control without erasing any pixels. They are brilliant! Tami constructs her edit carefully, adding in light where needed, color tones where desired, and playing up warmth and glow selectively. Many of the actions she plays, she inverts the existing layer mask so she can paint in the effects where she sees fit. If you’re looking for a very custom, artistic look to your photos, this is the method that I recommend.
Photo Editing Blueprint.
1. The first thing I always do is take my images into camera RAW to remove much of the contrast and blacks before editing in Photoshop. The evening I took this image, the sky was amazing so with this particular image I took separate pictures of just the sky and added the clouds in post-processing.
Many actions add in contrast, so if you remove some of it prior to editing with actions, you will be able to better control the contrast and keep photos from getting too muddled and thick in the shadows. This keeps photos looking crisp, sharp, and clean.
2. See Things Clearer 50% to defog the image. (Give it an overall light clarity boost.)
3. Patch Tool Selectively removed anything unwanted from the skin or clothes and to reduce under eye circles.
4. Sparkle 85% brushed onto the eyes to give them a nice sharp twinkle. I love this action!
5. Dark All Over This darkening action was played and masked to add depth to the photo. I used a black brush at about 35% opacity and slowly removed the dark from areas I wanted to keep lighter like her hair and skin and portions of the photo that the rim of light was naturally hitting.
6. Light Optimizer 25-30% over the entire image to give a boost of light with slight contrast. I played Light Optimizer once again, inverted the layer mask to hide the effects, then used a white brush to paint light into the areas I wanted a more exaggerated highlight, such as the subject’s face, portions of the horse, and the grass. This creates more contrast and is similar to dodging the highlights, only by using the action, it also adds in slight contrast and does it all non-destructively!
7. DIY Light With a white brush, I masked in a little more light to exaggerate some highlight areas where the sun was naturally falling, such as the horse, the subject’s hair, arms, legs and shoes, and behind the horse and girl to intensify the dramatic backlighting.
Selectively adding in highlights and shadows via painting with a layer mask can really help to add dimension and excitement to a photo, giving it drama and making it feel sharper and slightly hyper-dynamic. Some of the best tools for this are DIY Light, DIY Dark, Light + Shade, Light Optimizer, Opulent Light, all from the HeART & Soul Collection. Nightshade and Illuminate from the Botanical Blends Collection are also great ways to add in shadows and highlights with the layer masks.
8. Bland To Brilliant Inverted layer mask to black then brushed effects on the face at about 25% opacity to add contrast and a slight sharpen to just the face.
9. Rapture I inverted that layer mask as well, and brushed the action into a lot of the lighter areas. I really love the look of this action. It made the light look a lot warmer and it takes much of the grayish dull color out of the skin.
10. Angelica This was played at the default strength over the entire image. Then, with a black brush at about 25% I took most of the effects of the subject’s face, some off her body and off of the horse as well. I love the softness this action brings to my images, reducing the look of too much contrast.
11. Walnut Again, I very lightly removed this warming action via the layer mask off the lightest portions of the photo to keep them from darkening too much.
12. Beautiful Warmth After inverting the layer mask, the effect was painted in it to warm up the grass and the dark areas in the horse and the sky. I also use this action to make the skin appear more life-like, especially on the cheekbones, nose, eyebrows and the forehead.
13. Rosy Dusk Inverted layer mask and painted the rosy color using a 10% opacity brush onto the subject’s cheeks and the red bow to enhance the rich color. A little goes a long way! You could also use Rosy Cheeks and Lips and customize the pink tone if you wish.
14. Sun Kissed Skin 25% painted it on the lighter areas of the image giving it a beautiful glow. This is where the magic happens! The glow of the grass and behind the little girl and horse were exaggerated with this action. I LOVE this action!
15. Flatten After all of the artistic steps, I flattened the photo and used a little bit of dodging, burning and sponging to pop the image a little and that’s it. You can also use the action called Light + Shade to “dodge and burn” non-destructively.
For your viewing delight, here are a few more samples of Tami’s work using the Michelle Kane Photoshop Actions.