Cold, wet and stormy winter days in Noordhoek are just perfect for cosy hours in front of the fireplace or catching some dramatic winter reflections inbetween the icy rain showers! Here’s one of my recent examples – and as I like the combination between a sketchlike approach and a photo – especially also as it allows to transport that feeling of chill and clarity -, I experimented a little by using my tools in Photoshop CS6.
The question is how to turn the upper part of my winter reflections – basically the real plants on the little island in my dam – into a sketch, while keeping the lower two-thirds of the photo?
Sharpen with the High Pass Filter
While there are always several ways in Photoshop, you can achieve this by selecting your photo layer and clicking at the top on Filters > Other > High Pass and then adjusting the radius level to find the level of sharpness you desire. Don’t be surprised by the odd colour – it’s the high pass filter selecting the edges. Please note that the higher your values the thicker the lines will be – nothing better than testing this yourself!
While you can get rid of that odd colour by clicking on the Blending Modes > Overlay – my idea was to get more of a pencil look. For this I went to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and obtained my pencil outline effect from there.
The above is just one version…
Quick Mask Mode
Quick mask mode allows us to work on selected areas of a picture while protecting the rest of the picture (in red as you see below). Those of you who still worked with the good old airbrush will remember those hours spent on covering, i.e. masking off parts of an illustration… and there was never a guarantee that nothing would go wrong in the very last second!
No fears here! Note that the foreground colour is white and I can do anything on the top area, even erase the little rest of red mask that ‘spilled over’ as I did my selection with the pen tool and gave it a generous Gaussian Blur. Finally, I made a copy of the selection and put it on top of my layer stack. By directing the opacity of this layer I can give it the tone and feel I want.
Of course, there were some concessions as some nice nuances in the upper third disappeared through my emphasis on a pencil structure, but this is balanced through the reeds in the foreground. Somehow, this looks like a ghost yacht shooting through the waters … And yes, I created my own frame using again Quick Mask mode. Below the original photo in black and white.
Take one of your own photos and experiment… this is not only great fun but the best way to learn and meet with happy accidents along the way!