Republic P47 Thunderbolt of the Flying Heritage Collection on takeoff roll. (Rick A. Brown)

Today, I thought I wanted to write about a method I’ve been using to augment my aviation photographs for as long as Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro4 has been available. It is more subtle than some of the effects I have discussed here before and I use it when I want a little more punch, shadow detail, and highlight detail on the aircraft but essentially leave the background unaltered.

Lockheed P38 Lightning of the Tilamook Air Museum (Rick A. Brown/

I have created a recipe, let me know if you want me to share it, that includes the Tonal Contrast filter on Balanced mode and then the Detail Extractor filter on Fine mode. I just select this recipe and then hit the brush button. This takes you back into Photoshop with a little script running that helps you control the making of a layer mask. I then paint the effect onto the aircraft using a soft-edged brush.  If I do actually want the effect to be on the background, I go into the mask panel and reduce the density until I like the effect. This makes the effect far more prominent on the aircraft but allows it to be on the background a little too.

This final photo is an example of applying it to the background as well using this method.

IL2M3 Sturmovik of the Flying Heritage Collection (Rick A. Brown)