Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Coal Mine Compositing

This week I will go over the process of how I made the above photo. of my son apparently looking heroic in an industrial warehouse.

My family and I went out to British Columbia for a vacation a few weeks ago. While we were there we toured the coal mine in Kimberley. During part of the tour they take you in to the pump house where all the machinery is held that pumps fresh air in to the mine. The warehouse holds some very large motors and generators that are around a 100 years old. While the tour guide was educating the group about the history of the building I quickly shot photos from various angles and locations around the building. as I shot the photos I made sure that I took a series of 5 exposures in each location (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2). The reason I shot 5 exposures was that I planned to convert them all into one HDR image when I returned home.

Last night I decided to try my hand at an image that resembles a Joel Grimes' style photo. A lot of his images are composites where he adds a model to a background that he has previously captured. here is how I did my version.

First I brought all five images into Photoshop CS5 and converted them into one HDR image using the HDR pro script in the program. the result is the above image. it is kind of flat but it has detail in the highlights as well as the shadows.

Next, I ran the image through the free trial of the Photomatix plugin for Photoshop (I did this so that you can see what the free version would look like), and achieved the above result.

Now it was time to add my son to the image. I brought out 3 flashes (two canon 580EXII and one 480EX) and placed two in DIY strip lights behind and on each side of my son and one in a DIY beauty dish directly above the camera pointing down at a 45 degree angle towards his face.

I took a few shots (because that is all the time he would give me) and then brought the images into Photoshop and cut him out from his background.

Once he was cut out I placed him into the HDR image. Looks great doesn't it! OK maybe not but we are just getting started.

To help blend the two images together I first desaturated the image of my son a bit and adjusted the levels to even things out.

And then I sharpened him up a bit in order to bring out more of the highlights on this face and clothes. For those that have Photoshop you can do this by creating a new layer of what you want sharpen and then go to Filter - Other - High Pass and set the amount to around 60 or so. once this is done se the blending mode on the layer palette to "hard light".

The next step was to sharpen everything (background and the image of my son).

 then I adjusted the levels for the image as a whole in order to increase the contrast and brightness a bit.

In order to add a little depth and draw a more attention to the centre of the image I darkened the edges next.

The next thing I did was to removed the watermark on the stairs but left the one in the rafters. Since I used the free trial of Photomatrix for this image I didn't want to remove all them.

One of the final steps was to adjust the contrast and...

Do a little budging and burning to shape some of the details in the face, arm and stairs.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing one of the ways I create a composite. When you break things down it can be quite straight forward to do. the difficult part is blending the colours and lighting to make it more believable.

If you have questions leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.