Friday, June 26, 2009

photomatix with blend modes

I am officially on vacation and here it is 12:10am and i am on the computer working on a photo.
I guess where its of my mom that makes it special and ok for vacation time.
I dropped in to visit tonight and after baking for a client for two days straight, she gave me this pose.
The cooking was all done and she was on clean up or believe me she never would have touched her hair. Cleanest cook i have ever, or will ever know.
It always amazes me how much cooking she can do, not to mention how good it tastes.
I opened the photo in lightroom (i am a full convert now) and processed it for black and white and sharpened. From here i opened the image in photoshop and tweeked it just a bit more.
My default in lightroom is to open images in photoshop as 16bit profoto images. Important for the next step.
I then saved the file as a tif and closed it.
I opened photomatix and then opened this file. I went to process - tonemapping and tonemapped the image with some pretty strong settings. I saved it and closed. I then repeated this process and opened it again in photomatix and applied the same settings. I saved it and closed photomatix.
I opened the original black and white image and the photomatix double process version in photoshop and drug the photomatix one onto the top of the original, while holding down the shift key to center. I then changed the blend mode of the top, photomatix, layer to darken. what this did was give detail to the blown out sections of the image, like the windows and tops of the baking supplies. I did a bit of funkiness to moms skin also but i just created a layer mask and painted in black over her skin and apron. The original layer showed through this mask from underneath and everything looked wonderfull.
Remember that this is a 16bit image so i then went under mode - 8bit. I also went to edit- convert to profile and changed it from profoto to srgb. It was now ready for the web.
This is ambient light by the way shot with a 24mm lens.
The original image is below for comparison.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

photomatix interiors

I had to shoot some hotel rooms recently, extremely early in the morning (started at 4am to be exact). We wanted to do the shots before this lounge opened for breakfast at 6:30am. I had started off slow on another room. I did some ambient light bracketed shots but they just were not singing to me. I ended up adding 4 flashes to the room and it got fairly complicated.
I started off in this room just adding one flash in the far right corner by the patio door. It looked good but the ambient in here looked pretty good all on its own. I bracketed from 1/250 sec all the way down to 15sec. I ran 5 of the photos through photomatix which gave me a start. The image looked fairly bland to this point and needed some contrast and some highlights. I did a curve in photoshop and then used the dodge tool set to highlights and did some creative painting around the image. I retouched a bit and sharpened and that was it.
As far as a hotel room goes i really like the coloring in the image. I had my camera set to tungsten white balance which is what made the wee bit of daylight coming in the patio window quite blue.
I find the image i posted here a bit too light and i still need to tweek the curves a bit. This is all i have in me for tonight though.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

flash in rain

I have been way too busy lately to stop and smell the roses, or see the roses i should say.
Today it rained, and rained alot.
I have wanted to stick a flash out in the rain ever since reading joe mcnally's book, the hot shoe diaries. I was doing a little surfing tonight and found another cool shot done in the rain and that was all the motivation i needed.
I put a flash on a stand and attached a pocket wizard. I first put a ziploc sandwich bag over it, then two sheets of cling wrap, then topped it off with a semi see through (clearest i could find) grocery bag. I used electrical tape to seal the bottom of the bags around the flash stand and stuck it in the driveway. I set this flashes (backlight) power to manual 1/1. The zoom head was set to about 35 for a fairly wide burst. I put my main light high and to camera left and kept it just at the edge of the my garage, still inside and dry. I set this light to 1/8 manual power and zoomed to 85.
I shot from a lying position with a 80 - 200 f2.8 zoom lens set to exactly 116mm. No reason of course for this, just looked right and i got the zoom info from my metadata in lightroom.
Once in photoshop i retouched a couple distractons away, very minor, and then sharpened, and adjusted curves (a few times).
My flash was pointing just a bit too low and as a result his chest and stomach were too bright and the face was too dark. I adjusted the curves for the face and then duplicated my background layer. I applied a vignette and made it quite heavy. I took the darkness to -50 and the midpoint slider all the way to the left. This brought the tonal levels of the overall image down quite a bit. I added a layer mask and painted in black over the face and upper chest area to bring back the lightness of the bottom layer. I then flattened.
By the way, a few drops of water made its way through the outer bag but got stopped at the cling wrap layer.
Flash still works.
I did that little contrast trick where i duplicate the background layer, do a curves adjustment and bring the highlight slider over three squares and the shadows slider over three, desaturate, and then change the layers blend mode to luminosity and its opacity down to 30 or 40%.
I flattened once more and then just played by adding canvas size to the left, adding a bit of text, and dragging in another photo from the shoot. I lowered the opacity of all these new layers to 70% so your eye could stay on the main image and not be sucked over to the left until you were ready to roam.
One last tidbit of info. I shot this at about 7 o'clock in the evening. It was still very light out but i set my camera to 100 iso and the shutter speed to 1/250 sec at f4.0. This combo darkened down my background, while my large aperature combined with my longer lens, compressed and blured it.