wet snow

Camera - Nikon D200
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter: 1/640 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D200

Stating the obvious…

In putting all the contrast and detail into the snow of this shot I wanted to mask out the sign and (to a slightly lesser extent) the shadow. I’ve never really got fully to grips with creating detailed layer masks, usually resorting to painting them in by hand using a soft brush of various sizes as I’ve never really liked the hard edges you get from a traced outline or magnetic lasso, etc. I know you can soften the edges with the Selection-Adjust-Feather command but I’m still often left with visible shifts between the masked and unmasked portions of an image.

This time I chose to use CS3’s Quick Selection wand tool – you paint broadly across areas of the area you want to mask and it calculates what it thinks the whole object is and gradually creates the selection for you. In this case it got it absolutely bang on, as the objects I wanted to mask (the yellow sign and the dark shadow in the snow behind it) are pretty bold. I did then feather the selection by a couple of pixels, and had to do a bit of manual tidying of the hole in the top of the shadow where the handle is, but it was pretty successful in the end.

Last year I won a copy of Deke McLelland’s CS3 book on Channels and Masks and have yet to even open the first page – he’s a great writer and makes it incredibly easy to understand, but the topic seems so nebulous and daunting that I’ve just never got round to it as I don’t feel like I’m such a heavy PS user that I’d need to expand my knowledge all that much. I think I need to correct that attitude!

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