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Standard Photo Edit - Desaturate

1. Open Image
2. Remove Noise as required – I use Noise Ninja at the following settings - Strength: 7, Smoothness: 6, Contrast 8,
USM Amount 173, USM Radius: .5, Turbo mode
3. Perform basic cleanup using healing tools. I really only clean up large areas and do not go into the very small
details. But you can clean up as preferred.
4. Flatten image
5. Duplicate layer
6. Paint duplicated layer completely black using opacity 100%, and Flow: 100%
7. Change Layer Blend Mode to Saturation, Change layer Opacity to 50-60%, I typically use 60%, flatten image
8. Duplicate Layer, Change Blend Mode to Multiply, Play with layer opacity as needed I usually stay within 70-100%
(95% of the time I leave it at 100% but if it looks too dark, then play with the opacity to preference)
9. Add layer mask (white mask) to duplicated layer
10. Choose paint brush, color black, Soft edge, Change brush Opacity to 35-40%, Flow 61%, paint highlighted areas
on photo. I find using a larger brush to cover the entire highlight area shows the best results. Instead of
painting with small strokes. So you may have to change your brush size back and forth during this process.
Paint over areas as many times as needed to achieve look you want. Note that you can also paint over dark
areas at this stage to lighten them up if the darks are bleeding together, vary your opacity and flow accordingly.
11. Flatten image
12. Add a Brightness layer, Increase Brightness to 38-40
13. Press CTRL “I” to invert the brightness layer mask to black
14. Choose a white brush at 100% and paint on the whites of the eyes and teeth to whiten to preference. Using the
same brush settings, One nice trick here to make the eyes pop more is to paint an arc (or “smile” ) on the
bottom half of the iris (colored part of the eye). This really adds a nice look to the eyes and overall image. See
image below (I’ve exaggerated the contrast to show the arc)

16. Flatten Image
17. Duplicate layer
18. Apply Filter-Blur-Surface Blur – Radius 3, Threshold 11, on duplicated layer, hit ok
19. Change layer opacity to 25-35% or Fade surface blur to 25-35% in CS4
20. Apply layer mask (white) to Blurred layer
21. Paint at 100% with black brush to bring back details that the surface blur may have removed (eyes, hair, teeth,
clothes). I typically only leave the surface blur on the skin areas
22. Flatten Image
23. Add a subtle vignetting- Filter-Distort-Lens Correction-Vignette at amount -55 at the least, but I have gone as
high as -100 on the vignetting.
24. Perform Levels Step – Ensure right slider is at start of image data (usually slide to the left slightly)
25. Perform Curves adjustment - I usually just grab the line at the very middle and pull up slightly to lighten image a
bit. If you’re more well versed, you can play around with the curves more.
26. PS CS4 only - Add Vibrance Adjustment – Usually in the range of 60-80%
27. Apply a Luminance mask (Read the link below for full instructions)
28. Apply Luminance mask by clicking on Channels Tab
29. Then CTRL Click on RGB thumbnail- This should create the walking ants on your photo defining the selection
30. Click the Save Selection button at the bottom of the Channels palette (square with white dot in the center). A
channel called "Alpha 1" will appear in the Channels palette.
31. Double click on the name "Alpha 1" and type "Lights" and then hit the ENTER key to rename this channel (Figure
32. Click the RGB Channel to make it active and to restore the color view of the image (Figure 4).
33. Type Ctrl+D to turn off the marching ants.
34. Click on “Lights” channel to activate the Luminance mask
35. Create Curves Adjustment layer- use standard “S” curve to preference
36. Dodge and burn for final tweaking if needed.
37. I next use the software Dynamic Photo HDR
38. File- Create New HDRI- Add Images- Pick your photo
39. Click on Auto Adaptive, check auto update- OK
40. Click on Single image Processing –Pseudo HDR

42. Shown above are my default settings within Dynamic Photo HDR. You can tweak to your preferences.
43. Click “Process” when you have an image you like
44. Save image
45. Open Image up in Photoshop
46. Apply Noise Ninja to achieve the desired surface smoothness. See below for my default settings
48. If you don’t have Noise Ninja, you can try to achieve the same type of final surface smoothness using Surface
Blur. But for my workflow I use Noise Ninja to the default settings shown above.
49. Processing Complete.
50. Final note: What I’ve noticed is that the color and shading transitions can be smoother at the end if the
image is processed a bit darker before importing to Dynamic Photo HDR. DPHDR will brighten the image
considerably. So you can experiment with processing the photo a bit darker and see which result you like better.