Sometimes, we enjoy the journey—even more than the destination! That’s the case on this project. I was driving home when I saw this wonderful shadow being cast on the galvanized metal siding of an old thrasher. I did a quick u-turn and managed to get a few dozen shots before the golden light faded.
The screen grab above shows my Photoshop layers for this project. I started with the initial capture, then worked it through a few of my favorite 3rd party filters. Each one built on the others. As you can see, there aren’t a bunch of tricks or layer masks involved—just filters being applied. I “tried” a few other filters and settings but didn’t apply them. In other words, I was just experimenting with a variety of filters, and if I liked what I saw, I used it…the journey. In the following images, I’ll walk you through the steps.
The Background Layer: This was processed in Lightroom as I would do any other image. It looks fine, but it seemed to beg for more!
On 1 Effects 10: Texturizer ~ Croc: I duplicated the background layer (Control J or Command J), then ran the Texturizer preset “Croc” in On1 Effects 10. I don’t believe I did any adjustments on the preset. Once created, I left the blend mode as “normal” and adjusted the opacity of the layer to 71%.
Topaz Texture Effects- Mechanic Grime (adjusted): I duplicated the previous layer (same commands as before), then ran Topaz Texture Effects on the new layer. I clicked around on quite a few of the presets, then picked Mechanic Grime. It was much too blue, so I adjusted the warmth considerably and did a few other minor tweaks. Once applied, I adjusted the opacity of the layer to 79% and set the blend mode to “color”.
Quick method of toggling through the various blend modes: On a Mac, click Shift + or Shift – to toggle up and down the list. On a PC, I click one time in the modes, then use the up/down arrows on my keyboard.
Merged: This one looks EXACTLY the same as the previous image. Right? There’s a shortcut to create a merged copy of all visible underlying layers. It’s a “handful”. Hold down the Control, Alt, Shift and E on a PC, or Command, Opt, Shift, E on a Mac. This will merge everything to a new layer once you let up on the keys. (If you want go the longer way to get to the same spot, Select All of the top layer (Control/Command A), then Edit>Copy Merged (Control/Command, Shift, C), and finally paste the info to a new layer (Control/Command V). ) I prefer the first version. Why do this step? The previous layer had an opacity of 79% and was in Color blend mode. If I ran a filter on that layer, those settings could affect how the new filter is applied. A merged layer lets the next filter start fresh with all visible underlying layers applied.
NIK Analog Efex Pro 2 – Classic Camera #7: Nik’s Analog Efex imitates some of the characteristics of old cameras. I clicked around on the presets until I found one I liked and applied it. Nik automatically creates a new layer before applying their filters…which saves a step. I left this layer at 100% and left the layer mode as normal.
NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 ~ High Structure: If you were to scroll back up to the Layers screen grab, you could see this layer was actually a black and white layer. I ran the filter to add some grit and grime (structure) to the image. Scroll up to the previous image to see the difference. This layer would have remained a black and white until I adjusted the opacity of the layer to 67% and then changed the blend mode to “Luminosity”.
Merged: I used the same commands to merge underlying layers to a new layer : Control, Alt, Shift, E on a PC, or Command, Opt, Shift, E on a Mac.
NIK Color Efex Pro 2 ~ Sunlight: As before, Nik will automatically create a new layer, so it is not necessary to make the new one before applying a filter effect. I applied the Sunlight filter to the Merged layer, giving a nice, warm glow. Some people like to use Glamour Glow if they aren’t interested in adding the warming characteristics of Sunlight. I left the blend mode to Normal and the opacity at 100%.
The Recap: Even though I used several layers and filters, this is a relatively straightforward image. I could have tried another dozen filters and effects, but a project like this gives me a chance to experiment with a lot of the filters. I could have stopped at about any layer and been happy, or I could go on and on!
Resources: I have been adding more info and comments on this page: Resources: Software, Filters, Training. Of course, there are a lot of nice filters built right into Photoshop, but these third party packages can take an image to a new place with only a few clicks.
Bonus Tip!: This image was originally captured with a 35 mpx Nikon D810, and as you can see, it had a lot of layers. To save these images to a folder for this post, I took advantage of a seldom used command called Save For Web. It is now located in this path: File>Export>Save For Web (legacy). The shortcut is Control, Alt, Shift, S on a PC or Command, Opt, Shift, S on a Mac. Within the screen, all you have to do is adjust the height and/or width and pick JPG. (This image was originally 7330 pixels wide and I saved the export files at 1000 pixels). When you click Save, the program prompts you to choose a destination folder. It will “remember” that folder for the next exports. This command will use only active layers, plus it will convert to sRGB for web images without having to flatten and resize the original image.