Knockouts can be very important because they’re excellent material for stock photos and because they can add interest to a photo or it’s compositon. See Flutterby on Leaves.
It can be tricky to get a good knockout because doing so often means selecting “transitional edges.” Photoshop CS5 is exceptionally good at this, as long as there’s enough contrast between what you want to knock out and its background.
I was running an errand yesterday and happened past a large marketplace that a whole herd of turkey vultures was exploiting. So I could get up fairly close to them. I thought the one below would make a good knockout. Besides, I liked the diagogal line that the crack in the pavement gave to the composition of the unmolested version of the photo. Here you go:
First, in Photoshop I took out all the little white “specs” that showed up when I opened the LR adjusted image in Photoshop. I also bumped up Fill and increased contrast. Then I cropped the image so that it would be more interestingly composed, according to the Rule of Thirds because I thought I might want to use this image as it was. After I cropped, since I’d shot this on my Canon s90 compact, I thought there might be some noise and grain, so I got rid of as much of that as possible using Lightrom 3’s Detail panel. Here’s the end result of the Lightroom adjustments.
I wanted to compare the result I got with the onOne MaskPro 4.1 plug-in with the result I could get in Photoshop by using the Refine Edges/Mask procedure. To do this, I “cheated” a bit by copying the main image layer and then using the Adjustment > Curves command to lighten the concrete and darken the bird, so that it would be easier for Photoshop to find the transitional edges more accurately
Then I simply used the Quick Select Tool and “edited” that selection more accurately with the Magnetic Lasso tool in additive or subtractive mode. Then, to get the reflective and translucent edges of the dark feather, I click the Mask icon and the used the Refine Mask command. When I was happy with the selection I got, I simply dragged the layer mask to the layer below, that contained the original image adjustments so that I’d be able see all the detail within the body. Then I trashed the more contrasty layer that I used to make the mask. I also added a new white layer below the layer that contained the image above. Here’s the result of masking the image in Photoshop CS5:
This is really not bad and if you have the patience, you can retouch the mask or the photo to make it even better. But:
I also just got a review copy of onOne Software’s Mask Pro 4.1. It lets you create either a mask or a selection. Creating a mask will eliminate the original background, so it’s a shortcut to making a knockout. If you want to keep the original background so that you can adjust and change it, you just use the Selection version. You can still copy the contents of that selection to another layer and save that as a knockout.
Now, I have to tell you that Mask Pro 4.1 is a knock-out powerhouse. I don’t have the room or the time in this particular blog to give you a full-on and accurate evaluation of the program, but I will say that I got a cleaner selection of the bird than I did in Phtoshop using only the Keep and Drop brushes to specifiy which colors stayed in and then used a single tool to click on the image. Then only fine-tuning I then had to do to get the image below was to erase some “specks” from outside the bird that were the same colors of gray in the pavement as in the “Keep” colors. I also used the clone stamp with the original image underneath to bring back in some of the white areas in the buzzard…especially beak and toes. Here’s the result I got from putting that background into another image.
I will soon post another, more complete evaluation of Mask Pro 4.1, and I’ll show you what it can do to select transparent objects and to make very quick and accurate selections of objects deliberately shot for that purpose under controlled conditions and using solid blue or green “knockout backgrounds.” If you want to know more before I get to that, there are a lot of excellent motion tutorials on the onOne Software site: www.ononesoftware.com