Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Make a photo into a sketch

Kind of a fun trick in photoshop... this has been done many ways many times... but I will give my take on it here. Open an image and make a copy with command J.
Hit the layer style - Color Dodge and then hit command I (for invert)
  Sometimes you will think your image has disappeared here... keep going.
Then on that same layer, select gaussian blur and go medium on that blur.
Come back to layer and choose to desaturate with the hue/saturation slider.
  That's generally where you would be done.

But if you want to try something fun... try motion blur instead of gaussian.  It will give you darker lines.  In addition, you can create a layer from visible layers (as layer 3 in the example is).  And you can then try giving it an effect, like accented edges or something else from the effects menu.

One more thing I tried was to create a layer mask and give the mask a gradient so that I could see through to my original as shown below.  Enjoy. 

Pick of the day:

Monday, October 5, 2009

October Family Shots

A friend of mine likes to cook with his dad. He told me once about something they like to do. If they like a certain dish at a restaurant, they will try at home to replicate the dish with what they have. So that is what I like to do as well. I see a picture, study it, and try to replicate it with my consumer set-up.

I have eye bolts in my ceiling above my kitchen table... I know... weird. But they hold the sky chairs that we use when watching a movie. So I took an old rod that my wife used to use for hanging clothes in our extra room (now a bedroom) and hung a twin sheet from the eyelet bolts. I then placed an SB600 flash pointed into a reflector umbrella directly behind the white sheet. I also placed a shoot-through umbrella on the other SB600 pointed 45 degrees from camera and subject. See the diagram below

Both flashes were set on 1/8 power. My camera was set on Manual (f 4.0 ISO 160 at 1/100sec and auto focus). By the way, I have really become a believer in fully auto focus in lower lighting situations. I have found it has served me well and focuses much quicker than when I try to tell it where to focus.

By the way, these flashes were controlled by the flash on the camera (through Nikon's CLS system). And the camera flash was set down to about 1/128 so that it would be nearly negligible.

And here are the results.

What I would do differently. Get a queen size instead of a twin for larger groups. And something else I have tried was putting a silky material in front of it for a more elegant look.

Pick of the day: I like the warm lighting on the cold snow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Analyzing and learning

So, probably no one reads this anymore... I know I don't. But I thought I would sit down with no one and analyze some pictures that were really quite noteworthy and talk about what I like about them and why, in addition to how they might have set up the shots, technically and otherwise. Let's get on with it... by the way.. these shots were taken from the website of David Copperfield's Cay in the Bahamas. Obviously catering to the high-end consumers.

This shot is about light and perspective. It says, you are sitting here looking out the window enjoying a perfectly exposed evening dinner on the dock.

I have two settings (speaking of exposure) to think about. I obviously have a strobe (flash) or two camera left aimed at the people on the dock. And I have ambient light (in the room and the water/sky combo). Actually, there may be a strobe in the room as well on a very low setting... let's forget there is one if so.

I expose for the ambient light (manual exposure) minus 1.5 stops so that the room and water/sky maintain their evening appeal and allow my subject to be correctly exposed and be the focal point. I want to use an f stop that is going to allow my foreground and my background to be in focus, so f8 possibly. Remember the smaller my aperture (bigger fstop #) the harder my flash has to output to give me the same brightness. So this is a compromise between a small fstop for flash but big enough to keep my background island, my people, and my window ledge all crisp.

can I improve on this image? Sure... try using one more flash from the right or from above the dock to eliminate some of those harsh dock shadows.
But I wouldn't have taken the flash out to the subjects, or I wouldn't have brought the viewer to the subject.

A couple of nice things are my lines in this shot. The consistent horizon lines made by the window pane and ocean line are settling. But the curtain really frames my subject well and the diagonal lines of the dock point me directly to my subjects, which are of course not smack dab in the middle of my shot, but skewed to the right and upper middle of my shot. So well established lines, great balance, and quite decent lighting.

This picture, believe it or not, could have been taken in the daytime... it's not highly likely, but possible. First, why would I want to do that when I could just wait for this perfect dusk lighting? Answer- because dusk lighting only lasts for a few minutes to an hour. That can be a very short window to get the shot set, exposed for and taken. How would I create it in the daytime? Shoot with the white balance set to Tungsten and use a warming gel on the camera. That way you get the bluish look to the ambient light while maintaining correct color on your subject.

So this is longer than I thought it would be... let's just do one more for now...

In this image we also have multiple lighting. We have the ambient light outside where our pool model is really showing off ad we have the indoor lighting including the man in gray shirt. So where is my light source? Well, one is coming from camera right (casting a shadow on gray shirt man's back and lighting front girl's hair). But we also have a light on camera left to light the statues above and front man's shirt and back of head). We again have to set our exposure for the the light we don't control (the sunlight and pool area) and then match that exposure with the lighting on the inside of the covered patio.

I like the vignetting we get from the dark back of the couch and darker parts of the ceiling. But I probably would have softened my light with an umbrella or gobo so that my subjects up front weren't so contrasty (lights and darks are quite prevalent on them).

That's all for now.

Oh, one other note: the first shot was set at a fairly long exposure... so it was probably an evening shot. Can tell this by the fire on the lanterns moving a lot. The second shot was relatively fast shutter speed because the water ripples are frozen in time. Just a thought on what the ambient manual exposures might have been on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Just passing through

So, it has been a long time... and I have purposefully let this blog sit and marinate for a while. I was watching a episode and their guest gave a link to his site that has a free download for Bridge settings. Even though I didn't care for his tutorial on the show much, I really like the settings he has created in Bridge. If you haven't checked out the new CS4 Bridge... I recommend it. Love the brush feature, among others, in the new Bridge.

Here are some shots in the basement with just window light and a reflector on the opposite side of the subject --with a couple of the settings this guy has created.

Pick of the day...
this was shot by Kenneth Linge (who, by the way, teaches photography). He is Norwegian, I believe, but has his studio in Orem, Utah. I really liked the use of tungsten lights in this shot.