Friday, October 26, 2007

combining people

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I am hired each year to shoot approx. 16 people individually, strip them all together into one photo, print 5x7's, place photos in frames, and then drop off the photos so the company can give them out the next morning at 7am. This year i shot at 6:30pm and had everything delivered at 12:30 that night, last night to be exact.
I started this process by creating a new image in photoshop with a size of 15x21 and 300dpi. I made it this size so it would reduce nicely to a 5x7 and because i shoot with a nikon d200 the individuals dont have to be reduced or enlarged in size when dragged onto this image. They fit nicely.
Next i open bridge in photoshop and rate the images (1 each) of each person 5 stars that will be added to the comp. I then open these rated raw files in camera raw and do my image adjustments. I then open all the files i have corrected in raw.
Now to each photo i select the white background, using the magic wand tool for ease and speed, set to a threshold of about 22. I get as much of the white as i can and then switch to the lasso tool and holding down the shift key i add the rest of the background. Next go to select - inverse to select only the person and then go into quick mask mode and tidy up the parts still not selected, mostly around the feet.
Once your happy with the selection get out of quick mask and hit the lasso tool (just so the refine edge button is visable) and hit refine edge. I set feather to 1px, radius to 1.5, smooth to 13, and contract/expand to -28. I hit the show on black button to check it and hit ok. Then i would reccommend going to select - save selection and saving it in case you need to go back and modify it.
Drag the image into your new image and then repeat this whole process for the next 15 or so people. If some white still shows around the hair or somewhere else when a black jacket is behind it then just create a layer mask for that layer and paint it out. I then just drag the layers around until they make a pleasing composition.
I sharpened, added a curve, and a bit of saturation and was done.
In the final image i also had a logo in the front which i took out in the image your seeing. I placed a border and some guides also so the people would extend approx the same width on both sides and then saved as a psd so all my layers were intact. Now next year when i do this shoot again, the template is already done and i just have to add the new people.
Below is a view of how things looked behind the scenes.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

just weird

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I dont know why i do things sometimes but in photoshop things just happen.
I was not trying for this effect but fell upon it. If you look in sports illustrated magazine you will see the effect used quite often.
I assummed that they would have made a selection and then just applied a stroke, which they very well may do. However this approach would be much easier, especially around hair.
I photographed this lady on a white background and selected the background in photoshop using the color range tool. Select - color range. Just click on the white area in the background and then hold the shift key down and click again, and again until the background is fully selected. I then went to select - inverse , clicked on the lasso tool (just so the refine edge button would show) and then clicked on the refine edge button. I entered a value of 36 for feather and +45 for contract/expand. Since she was on a white background I ended up with a white soft stroke around her.
Just so it would show i opened another photo, of a cool sky i shot tonight, and while holding the shift key down, dragged her onto it. I then wanted her a bit smaller so i used edit - transform - scale, and holding the shift key down to constrain the proportions drug the top corner down until the size looked good against the background. I cropped the image and was done.

Monday, October 22, 2007

more retouching

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I took this group photo and somewhere along the way decided that i did not like the plywood under their feet. We have done the shot in the same location for about 6 years now so moving them was not really an option. Photoshop of course to the rescue.
I started this process by selecting the board. I used a bunch of selection tools, color range, magic wand, and so on until i had the best i could do with them and then switched to the quick mask mode. If you havent used this mode to finess your selections you have to try it. It is located near the bottom of the tools pallate on the left side of your screen. You click on it to get into it and click it again to exit it. It turns everything red that is not selected and you use your paint brush with white to take away the red (adding to your selection) and black to add red (adding to your selection). The nice thing about selecting this way is that you can use a soft edged brush to get a nice soft edge selection.
Once i had the entire plywood selected i hit the refine edge key to feather my selection just a bit then i duplicated my background layer and hit the delete key to remove the board from that layer. I then turned the top layer off (eye on the left side of the layers pallate and clicked on my background layer to work on it.
I went into filter - vanishing point and drew my grid for the walkway. I will not go into detail about using vanishing point here but if you are cloning anything that has perspective then you should do some reading on it. I used the clone tool with heal turned off in the vanishing point window and cloned the walk so it would cover the entire board that was visable. Now when you turn the top layers visibility back on the board, which we deleted, is now walkway.
Lastly i make a selection of the building sign where it was in shadow and did a curves adjustment to it to brighten it up a bit.
Here is the finished product.
Note: tomorrow i will be doing a tutorial on photomatix pro so stay tuned.
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

displacement map

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I have been noticing the use of displacement maps in a few new photoshop books i got recently and thought i would give it a try.
I dont know if i have chosen the best two images to demonstrate this effect but i liked the results so thought i would post it.
You start by opening the image you want to use as the texture, i opened the phone dial pad. Next open the image you want this texture to be applied to, i opened the slot machine image. Then drag the slot machine image onto the phone image using the shift key to center it. note: i cropped both images the same size before i started.
Then click on your background layer, the phone, and duplicate it (ctrl - j).
Move this new layer to the top of the layer stack and then desaturate it (shift - ctrl - u). Now save the image as a psd but unclick the layers button when the save as dialogue opens. This will save the file but will flatten the file.
Next go back to your top layer, probably still on it, and change the blend mode to hard light. This will blend the phone into the slot machine. To make the phone contour better to the slot machine we have to now use a displacement map.
Click on the slot machines layer and then go to filter - distort - displace. When the dialogue opens type in 5 for horizontal scale and 5 for vertical scale and click on wrap around. You can also leave stretch to fit checked. Click ok. When the open dialogue appears, go to the file you had saved earlier and select it and hit open.
I added some saturation and adjusted the curves after all this was done and sharpened using unsharp mask quite heavily.
I know this was a confusing post and i appoligize. I will try it again soon with two different images.
These are the two images below that i started with.
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Friday, October 19, 2007

masking multiple frames

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I was recently shooting a cross country race in the park and had an idea to take multiple shots as a runner went by and then strip them together. Piece of cake right? Just use a tripod and nothing changes but the runners position.
Problem was i forgot my tripod. I also wanted a very low angle. So, hand held it is. I laid on the ground and tried to hold the camera very still. I prefocused and turned auto focus off. I took multiple shots as he ran by and the shoot part was over.
In photoshop i processed the images in camera raw and then opened all the ones i wanted to use, actually more than i needed in the end. Once all were opened i held down the shift key and using the move tool drug them one by one into one frame. I used the shot where he enters from the right and drug the rest, in order of his position, onto it.
I next used the new function in cs3 called auto align layers found under the edit menu i think. It did a great job and compensated for my not having my tripod.
I clicked on "layer 1" in the layers pallate and then drew a rough selection around the guy and hit the refine edge button. I smoothed the edge a bit and used a feather of about 2, then hit ok. I then select - inverse my selection and created a layer mask in the layers pallate. Since black was my foreground color it filled my mask with black, leaving only the runner to show through to the layer underneath. I repeated this process for each layer until all runners were showing through and all backgrounds were masked except for the original image.
I flattened the image and smart sharpened it. I also used a hue saturation adjustment layer to boose the saturation up a bit and was done.
I am sure no one will ever use the shot for anything but it was just fun to have fun.
Oh, i cropped it a bit also, just height wise. It is full frame on the length.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

trying to make something out of nothing

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I was asked to photograph this thai shelter so my city could give a gift to a travelling thai delegation. It really is not the best photographic subject so i thought, how could i make it look its best.
I picked early morning to shoot it so the light would be on the shelter and there would be some shadows.
I also bracketed my exposures as i was planning to use hdr to lighten the wood under the roof and darken down the sky and i shot it from every angle possible. I downloaded my photos and made a quick web gallery in photoshop and sent the link to the client. They picked this view and then i got to work.
I had forgotten my tripod so using multiple shots proved difficult in hdr.
I picked the best exposure and opened it by going to file - place so it would come in as a smart object. Now the trick to this is you actually have to open your photo before and do a select all - copy. Then close your image. Now when you create a new document, place, it will be the right size automatically.
After having this open i wanted another smart object layer so i went to layer - smart object - new smart object via copy. This will give you two seperate layers and each is editable in camera raw, independantly of each other.
I double clicked the top layer and changed the camera raw settings for the under side of the roof. I then created a layer mask and painted everything in black except for the underside of the roof.
I then flattened my file so i could retouch. You could also just created a top flattened layer by clicking on shift - control - alt - E. Or something like that.
I used a combination of the healing brush, clone tool, and patch tool to get rid of what i thought were distracting elements.
Like the dead tree, garbage can, sign shadow, just to name a few. I added a curves adjustment layer and a saturation layer.
I then did a selection of the tree in the upper left corner and copied and pasted it into place so that corner would not be bare. Next came smart sharpen and lastly i added a vignette by going to filter - distort - lens correction.
Here is the final image.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

white socks

Two posts ago i put up a shot of me looking pretty macho in front of a white mustang. Well guess what, i was wearing my wifes white stubby socks. How cool am I.


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This isn't so much a post about photoshop techniques as it is about the diary of a job. I will sneak in a photoshop tip however so please continue reading.
I was sent the beautiful brochure you see before you, as a pdf file, and was asked to freshen it up photographically. It is for a library and the main commons area was just redone. They felt the photos were stale and did not portray the new, lively theme of the library.
I booked the shoot for this morning and ended up shooting 4 different areas in the span of about 2 hours. I went in without any preconcieved ideas except for the lighting. I wanted the light to be a bit edgy and dynamic. In some shots i used three lights and in others i used two, plus some ambient here and there.
We did not have models lined up but instead just grabbed people that were there. They all ended up being great which is rare. I tried some different angles at each location and varied my lens choice pretty well through the range of 12mm to 200mm.
I only took about 120 frames but felt quite happy that i may have something when we were done.
I downloaded the images, retouched a bit in photoshop and rated the images. Out of the 4 different shots i ended up liking 2. I then opened the original pdf of the brochure in photoshop and stripped in the two shots i liked. I added a bit of a red border to the top of the page and was done.
One thing i did not plan but just worked out was the fact that in each photo my main subject would be facing the center of the page.
insert: - photoshop tip. In the photo on the left i brightened up and corrected the color of the computer screens (actually on another file and not the one i am showing here) by selecting the screen (1 at a time) with a combination of the magic wand tool and the lasso tool and then applying a curve to that selection. Remember that when you have a selection and you then go to edit - adjustments - curve only the area inside the selection will be affected. end of tip.
Below is the revamped brochure.
Of course i have not heard back from the people who made the initial request for the images so i fully expect an e-mail tomorrow stating that they would like the shots to be brighter (flat light), without any shadows (flat light), and to include someone of a different ethnic origin, perhaps even someone who is disabled so everyone will know that the space is wheelchair accessable.
I will then walk down with an on camera flash and put them all in a row and go click, click and the client will love it.
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