Cross Processing

The story behind the photograph

This image of model Strawberry Venom (Kayleigh) was shot outdoors in Manchester. I had a studio shoot booked with her for a future Lighting Academy.

In a short break from the studio session, we wandered outside, but due to the bitterly cold temperatures we only had a few minutes – more to the point, Kayleigh told me we only had a few minutes. A couple of test exposures were needed to configure the PocketWizards and then the output tweaked to suit the set aperture of f/5.6.

The 1/250sec shutter speed was fast enough to underexpose the foreground slightly and record good sky detail. A big selling point of these PocketWizards is that you can enjoy correct flash sync at all shutter speeds, although on this dull day we didn’t need that feature.

Camera Nikon D800 Lens 24-120mm at 27mm Exposure 1/250sec at f/5.6 ISO 200 Lighting One Nikon SB-900 in manual mode fitted with a Honl grid. The flash was triggered with PocketWizard MiniTT1/FlexTT5/AC3 Controller combination. Software Adobe Lightroom 4

Model: Strawberry Venom, www.modelmayhem.com/889826, Facebook: http://on.fb.me/L0Jztv Dress design: Westward Bound, www.westwardbound.com

STEP-BY-STEP: Cross processing in Adobe Lightroom 4

Make a copy Everything you do to an image in Lightroom is virtual until export. Making and then working on a virtual copy is a handy feature of some softwares and it’s available in Lightroom. You do this by going to Photo>Create a Virtual Copy. It’s really handy if you want to try a variety of effects with the same image.

Set the crop ratio I knew the image was going to be used across a spread in the magazine so I cropped it to the right ratio, ie 1:1.41, the square root of 2. A paper sizes are based on this ratio. In the Crop & Straighten tool, I went for Enter Custom and inputted the required ratio.

Now crop I can now crop to suit the ratio needed for the magazine. Cropping to suit the end use is handy and can speed up workflow but it’s not essential. By clicking on any corner and adjusting crop now means the crop ratio stays identical. I straightened the image too.

Next the sky There is plenty of cloud detail in the original but I decided to intensify it further using the Graduated Filter tool (shortcut key M). I selected the tool’s Burn (Darken) option. A filter was added across each corner, -1.82 at top left and -0.64 at top right.

Select the Tone Curve Cross processing can be applied in several ways but here I’m using the Tone Curve. Using Ctrl+2 (Windows) or Cmd+2 (Mac) opens the Tone Curve palette – it’s directly below the Basic palette. In Lightroom 4 you can adjust each individual colour channel.

Red start Clicking on the RGB tab brings up the options of Red, Green and Blue. Set the Point Curve to Linear and start with Red. Clicking towards the top of the curve and moving it up makes everything red. Red in the shadows can be reduced by dragging down the shadow end.

Blue moves Digital cross processing is a matter of taste but I decided to keep the model’s blue hair blue so pushed up the top end of the blue channel. The green shadows I wanted to keep too. Playing with the Blue Curve and revisiting the Red and Green channels gave the right look.

Now green After Red, it was time to move on to the green channel. I increased the amount of green in the shadows by moving the shadow part of the curve upwards and made the highlights even more magenta by dragging down the highlight end of the curve.

Contrast control Once you are happy go back to the RGB option so we can adjust all three channels in unison and tweak the contrast. I gave it a very gentle S-curve for stronger highlights and more intense shadows. As I said earlier, it’s a matter of taste.

Darken the corners Clicking Ctrl+6 or Cmd+6 takes you to the Lens Corrections palette. Click Manual and use the Lens Vignetting tool to darken the corners. You may prefer to use the Post-Crop Vignetting in the Effects panel but Lens Vignetting is more subtle.

Add some noise Open the Effects panel (Ctrl or Cmd +7) to access the Grain slider. Adjust the Amount, Size and Roundness sliders to achieve the effect you like. I ended up with 50, 19 and 66 respectively.

Final step Looking at the image, I took exception to that shadow bottom right and used the Spot Removal tool to clone it. A big brush and careful placement of the clone area was convincing enough. I saved the adjustments (apart from this final step) as my own preset for future use.

Taken from the July 2012 issue of Advanced Photographer magazine