Archives for category: photoshop

Earlier this month, Indiana University’s Counseling and Psychological Services sponsored “Celebrate Your Body Week,” an annual event consisting of activities that promote positive body image and educate students about the dangers of eating disorders and over-exercise. Students were invited to submit work related to the event for a gallery. Unfortunately, I was too busy to get my idea realized and printed before the deadline date, but it did inspire me to address this issue through art. I created this triptych to show the extremes of an eating disorder in a straightforward, simple way, without incorporating a person.

I have unfortunately witnessed the destructive nature of eating disorders in friends and peers from high school until now. I have heard many women (and men) my age become visibly distressed over the pressures of being thin in today’s society. We have all felt these same pressures at some point, but it is truly tragic to see them take over the human mind and transform negative thoughts into self-destructive behavior. It is painful to watch a friend chew gum for lunch, and eat a few crackers for dinner, but it’s nothing compared to the pain felt by those with the disorder. It is important to raise awareness for eating disorders, and educate people about their dangerous consequences so that we can combat the causes.

Advertisements depicting unrealistic Photoshopped bodies on actual healthy and beautiful women are certainly not helping the problem (see link below). Nor are the general requirements for editorial and fashion modeling, which are (according to my internet research), between 5’8″-6’0″ in height and 90-120 lbs. Those are nearing Barbie’s unnatural and slightly emaciated proportions, and create unrealistic ideals for young women, not to mention the low self-esteem women feel when they see these magazines and wonder why they can’t look the same way.

A huge mistake by Ralph Lauren’s advertisers shows the odd desire for disproportionaly skeletal women in the fashion world:

Campaigns for real beauty and fashion shows incorporating more “plus size” models are starting to appear, and I can only hope that they continue to push the emphasis towards a healthy body, rather than one that is unnaturally thin. V Magazine is starting to help, by showing that women larger than a size 4 are just as beautiful.

This is an issue that I will continue to follow, and I will do my best to use my photography and art to propel modern society’s image of the ideal body away from where it currently resides and towards something more realistic, and less dangerous. I urge others to do the same.


Because I am lacking in photographic inspiration, and can’t think of anything new to shoot, I’m going to play with old images. I love monochromatic images; black and white will never go out of style…but sometimes I want something more. I recently discovered the beauty of duotone images. Duotone refers to a halftone reproduction of an image, where one color is superimposed over another. When one of these tones is black (as in grayscale/black & white imagery) and one tone is a specific color, you can get some really fantastic subtle effects. I’ll manipulate one of my images for the sake of comparison:

Here is the original monochromatic photo        

This is an obvious duotone photograph, where the superimposed color is an red-orange (specifically PANTONE 166 C) I rarely see duotones with this intense of a bright color…it seems more common to use extreme colors when they are cooler tones, like the example below.

So…yep that’s blue (PANTONE 2915 C to be exact). Pretty extreme for a portrait, but it can be really dynamic for cold landscapes and the like. Now, for subtlety.
Now this one also has a blue tone (PANTONE 544 C), but it is a lot more subtle. It just gives the image a cool feel, rather than screaming HEY LOOK I’M BLUE. Anyway…I like it. There are places where it can really enhance a photo in a quiet way.

This effect is perhaps my favorite. The superimposed color is a light beige/brown, called PANTONE 5835 C. It is a subtle warmth added to the photo. Not immediately noticeable or bothersome, but it adds a nice effect to the portrait.
You might think you see this all the time, with sepia and hue-adjusted photos, but it is a different effect. Hue adjustments change all the tones of the photo (shadows, midtones, highlights) to reflect that color. A duotone is a combination of two tones, that create a more natural effect. The highlights generally remain white, and the darkest shadows stay more or less black. Hue adjustments and sepia of course have their place in photography and digital manipulation, but I am a huge duotone advocate. It works within an image rather than overlaying an obvious effect on top of it. 
So, if you’re wondering how to do this:
1. Open an image in Photoshop
2. Change the color mode to grayscale, to make the Duotone option available  (Image>Mode>Grayscale)
3. Change the color mode to duotone (Image>Mode>Duotone)
4. A box will pop up where you will choose your color
5. In the “Type” box, change the selection from Monotone to Duotone (Yes, there are other options there…you can do Tritone and Quadtone too!)
6. Click on the white box for Ink 2, and choose your color. (You can change your color options under the “Book” tab. I stick to PANTONE Solid Coated, because it is a common system used among professional printers)
7. Press OK, and you have yourself a fancy Duotone image! You can always go back and change your color in the .psd file, by getting back to the Duotone menu.

In the box that comes up after clicking on “Duotone,” you’ll see a small box next to your ink selections with a diagonal line through it. If you click on it, you can adjust the curve of a particular tone. If you know how to use the Curves adjustment, you might want to try this out. You can adjust specifically where you would like to see the most color (midtones, highlights, etc) with this feature. It gives you a lot more control over the use of color in your image.

Three cheers for duotone!! Hopefully I’ll have some NEW images up soon that showcase this technique in all its glory.

So, I’m finally doing what I said I would, and uploading a couple more examples of smoke photography that I’ve processed in Photoshop. And yes, I do recognize that smoke photography is in no way an original idea, and some of my methods for processing them are derived from examples I’ve seen. This was mainly an exercise to improve my technical skills, and really just to see if I could do it!

The above photo was relatively simple to process. In Photoshop, I converted the image to black and white, with the Black and White adjustment layer. I then added the Invert adjustment layer, and make slight changes to the contrast. Voila! Cool smoke.
This purple smoke was also pretty simple to create. I took one of the original smoke photos, opened it in Photoshop as a layer. I then added the following adjustment layers: Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, and Color Mixer. I didn’t use any specific settings, but just played around with the sliders in each layer until I achieved an effect I wanted. Changing the color of smoke and making it look good is most easily done with my favorite “guess and check” method.
Who doesn’t love rainbows right? This was quite an experimental photograph. I had seen multicolored smoke photos before, and wanted to see if I could figure it out for myself. Again, I opened the original smoke photo as a layer in Photoshop. I duplicated that layer and dropped the opacity to around 60%. I then added a rainbow gradient, switched the blending mode to “Overlay” and adjusted the opacity until I achieved the effect I wanted. Contrast and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers were also added to alter the intensity of the color, and to keep it looking somewhat realistic.
And there we are! If anyone has additional questions about smoke photography, or the post-processing please feel free to ask by comment or by emailing me.