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.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Connecting With Old Friends :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

One of the great things about being a photographer is capturing happy moments in people's lives. I had that opportunity a month or so ago when my family and I were invited to the birthday party of one of our friends. We all met when we were living in Edmonton Alberta years ago. Now we are all living in the same area again. Back then we each only had one child and now our two families have 3 apiece.

I had been trying to get together with this family for awhile to do a family portrait but things kept coming up. Finally we were able to  get together and do some photos.

The mother, Halli Lilburn, is actually a published author. You can keep up with her over at her blog. Part of the shoot was also to do some headshots for her up coming book. Check her out and keep your eye open for her book.

One Year and Counting :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

Over the summer I had the great opportunity to do the one year photos of a cute little boy. His mother was actually one of the great women that have worked with my son while he was in grade one. It was good to see her again and to help visually capture her son's personality.

This little guy just would not stop smiling. He was great to work with and his parents had some good ideas about what they wanted. His mother wanted to shoot on some railroad tracks right from the begining when she booked the session.

Photographing kids can be really easy in some aspects because they are so cute but they can be a cahllenge in many others. For example, children like to move and dont't take direction very well at times so you have to be quick and try to keep their attention on you or a parent that is situated close to the camera.

And Here Are the Winners... :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

A while back I did a draw for 3 free photo sessions and posted a video on the blog where I announced the lucky winners.

After I did the blog post I contacted the winners and set up times with them to discuss what they would like to do in their shoots.

A predominant theme for all of the winners was that they wanted to have their photos done by a barn or similar background. I just so happen to have a great location with a barn that I regularly shoot at just outside of town. So the only issue was if I was going to use this location for all of the sessions, how would I make the images unique and different enough from each other? The great thing about the location is that it is large and diverse enough to offer a lot of flexibility.

By changing lenses and shooting from different angles and locations around the property I was able to provide my families with what they wanted and something a little different from everyone else.

Photography is not all about the gear and the locations. I try to alter each shoot to suit who I am shooting at the time. different angles will produce different results and a different feel to the image. next time you say to yourself "I've shot that before" or "I've run out of ideas" try looking at things from a different perspective or through a different lens.

Dusting off the Cobwebs :: Claresholm Alberta Photographer

Over the past few months I have been very busy and I have to admit my blog has developed some cobwebs... sorry for the lull. during this  and the next few posts I hope to catch you all up on what I've been up to and let you see a few of the images I have created for myself and some beautiful people.

Well now that you are here lets gets started.

When we last met I was shooting some of the graduating class of 2010. I finished up my grad sessions with two beautiful young ladies from the local Catholic School.

It was a busy day for these girls and we were pressed for time on both shoots but we made the most of it by having fun and getting some nice images. you might recognise one of the girls from an earlier post about my grad ambassadors. It was really nice to do another shoot with her.

For those that are learning to photograph people you will notice that after you've shot someone a few times the two of you can feel a little more comfortable with the process and you can get a lot more done in a shorter period of time.

One post down... many more to come