First of all sorry for the delay between posts. I got sidetracked by life but as promised here is my tutorial on editing smoke photos. I by no means am a photoshop pro so there may be better methods but this is the basics of how I process my photos. I use lightroom 4 and photoshop CS6 for all of my smoke editing.
Step 1 Raw adjustments
If you shoot in Jpeg skip to step 2
I always shoot RAW so I begin in lightroom to adjust exposure,contrast,whites,blacks, and clarity. There is no magic adjustment figures for this. I tweak as needed based on each individual photo. My goal here is to get the background as close to solid back as possible (in case any light spilled onto to it while shooting) and to lighten the smoke to get good contrast between them. After I’m finished here I move over to photoshop. You can also make these adjustments in PS Camera Raw but I just prefer lightroom.
Step 2 Create a background copy
Now that we are into photoshop you should create a back up copy. This way we can start over if we make any mistakes (you’re editing a copy not the original)
To create a duplicate layer…
From the menu bar select Layer>Duplicate Layer
You can name the new layer, I just leave it as Background Copy
Once you have the duplicate layer you will want to hide the original. You do this by clicking on the original image layer labeled background and then going to Layer>Hide layers (the eye symbol should be gone after you do this)
Now select the duplicate layer and you are ready to start editing
Step 3 Clean up blemishes
This is where we clean up any areas that may not be completely BLACK. From the menu bar select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels (leave name as Levels1)
Make sure the levels layer is above the background copy,if it is not click and drag it above.
This will highlight any light colors in your image so you can clean them up.
Step 4 Remove Blemishes
On the layer tab select the Baackground copy. Then go to your tool bar and select the black square so it is on top and white square is under (black in foreground position) Then select the Brush tool. Make sure your opacity and flow are both at 100% in the options bar above.
Now brush over any blemishes (light spots) but be careful not to brush over the edges of the main smoke. Zoom in if needed and adjust the size of your brush to edge carefully. Now that you are finished cleaning up move the slider back to the right and delete the Levels layer.
Step 5 Adding Flavor (Color)
Now there are a few ways to do this and even be more creative but for today we are going to keep it basic.
First go to the menu bar and select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation
Go to the adjustment palette and use the Hue and Saturation sliders to change the color.
Once you get a color you like you are all set. Go to the menu bar Layer>Flatten Image and then save it. You should end up with a finished product like this
I hope you enjoyed this 2 part tutorial and have fun trying it out. If you have any questions leave them below and I will be sure to respond.
Until next time