One of the many effects in Adobe Photoshop is the Curves tool. Not many people seem to use the presets to “redefine” the tonal qualities of an image. I’m going to explain how I got the above image using, first a monochrome conversion of the original and then applying some of the Curves variations. I’ts pretty amazing what can be done by just using a preset instead of trying to find that perfect curve.
This is the original post processed, High Dynamic Range image. As you can see, I softened the overall image and used some sharpening and luminance in Adobe Camera Raw. This gave me the crisp edges along with a smooth texture on the rose petals. And it almost looks like the real thing, doesn’t it.
- Quite a Curve – Black and White
By moving the image into Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 and choosing a more high key preset, I got a nice, smooth monochrome version . . . interesting but not very punchy, if you know what I mean.
Using a Curves layer back in Photoshop, I chose the presets that affect Contrast the most and also added my custom version that I’ll use for the RGB preset transition.
Yes, at first glance, they seem to look very similar. But if you look closer and notice the variations in the curves in the histogram, the differences are clear.
The Medium Contrast setting has very little curve and just a subtle variation in tone. With the Increase Contrast setting, a little more depth is added by darkening the tone shift in the petals and almost eliminating the details in the background. Strong Contrast gives a sharper definition between light and dark which gives a lot more definition to the edges of the petals. But, by lowering the bottom end of the curve in the Custom setting, I brought the petals back to a more realistic look and added more depth in the shadow areas.
The beauty of Monochrome in it’s more contrasty glory!
The most interesting preset for Curves is the RGB preset. The variations are infinite for color/tonal shifts when starting with a Monochrome image. The possibilities with color are also pretty mind blowing. (I’ll do a post to cover that later.)
By starting with my Monochrome beauty above and initially applying my own creative curves to the individual red, green and blue curves, I came up with the image on the left below. Then, I added a little more depth to the bottom end of the curve for the image on the right.
I thought I’d add this larger view of the initial RGB conversion for a clearer comparison to the one that I started this post with. Even though these images are not even close to reality, as artistic expressions seldom are, I enjoy going beyond reality for a change.