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Photoshop tutorial – pt.1

I know it’s been a while now since I last posted a blog… but I’ve been posting on flickr regularly for my 365 project. Recently I posted this image for Day 76 – stating that I would soon do a tutorial on how to do this effect in photoshop. I think I’ll start a series on some things in photoshop that I have learned how to do…. and I think that since this is a relatively easy process… I would start here. So here goes! =D

**I would like to mention at this point that the version of Photoshop I’m using is CS3…. if you’re running a different version of photoshop…. some of these steps/menus might look a little bit different for you!**

First, you want to open your photo that you would like to apply this effect to. I think that lit images [of people] with some shadows tend to look like those Nike adds you see around…. so that’s what I’ll be using here. But you can try using this effect on any image really… and just see what you get. Playing around with all your photos is really the best way to get a feel for photoshop anyway. IMHO. =)

So here’s my starting point:

Second step for me was to go in and get rid of any blemishes that I didn’t want in the photo with the heal brush. There wasn’t much for me to touch up really with this photo – mostly because I wanted that kind of look.

Third step was to do a levels tweak (command + L for mac users like me) to black out that background the rest of the way and to make the image a little more true to what I was looking for. I followed that up with using the burn tool set to shadows at around 20% strength with a good sized brush to go in and black out the remainder of the background to make it totally black. I have some pictures up on the wall behind Parvati and the couch behind her was still kinda visible – so that’s what I hit with the burn tool.

So now you end up with this:

Next you’ll want to create a duplicate layer (command + J) and then desaturate that layer (command + shift + U). So you end up with this:

Next step is actually going for that Nike look – Go up to Filters > Other > High Pass… This is where and what it looked like on my screen:

When the next little menu thingy opens up you should have a screen that looks something like this:

You’ll note on the screen that I have this set up pretty high…. around the 80 range is usually pretty good for that Nike-Ad look. Hit “OK”….

Next step is to go over to the bottom right of the screen and set that layer to “Overlay”.

So once you have done that you should have an image that looks something like this:

Looking good so far, right?! You could easily end the tutorial right here… but there’s one last thing that I did to this image involving Parvati’s eyes.

Create a new “fill or adjustment layer” with a mask. In the screen cap below on the bottom right hand side where you see all your layers and whatnot…… there are some little buttons down there at the very bottom. It’s the circle-looking icon down there. When you click on that you go up to Levels and click to create. Now you have a new layer where you will adjust the levels – PAYING ATTENTION TO THE EYES ONLY – adjust those levels until the eyes look the way you want them.

**I know this is adjusting your whole image, but don’t worry! We’ll about to fix that!!!!**

So once you have that adjusted… you see how there’s a white rectangle attached to that layers adjustment you just did? Click on that so that the next thing you do effects that rectangle… now color the whole thing black with you paint bucket. Now it should look something like the menu below:

Now you just select the paint brush tool and make sure it’s set to paint in white…. and choose the appropriately sized brush so as to only paint over the iris (eye color portion of the eye). You can do this with 100% opacity on the brush and go back on the whole layer (via that menu on the bottom right) and set the opacity to something you prefer.

I left it at 100% on this image. But it’s a personal preference.

My final image ended up looking like this:

The last bit there with the eye is really a pretty subtle difference…. and doing that step, again, is a matter of preference.  If you would like to see the finished product a bit larger, feel free to visit the flickr page! Also, if you liked this tutorial…. or if you have any questions… please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer you! =)

~Squeek!!!

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Baby, it’s COLD outside!!!

Squeek Photography – Orlando Photography

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Day 5.365

Tonight I had to run our final rent check out to the other side of town, so I decided that I would do my 365 in downtown Orlando since I would be driving right by there on my way home. I parked under the I-4 overpass and walked a few blocks to the intersection of Church and Orange and started to set up my gear. I moved quickly as the temperature dropped and the wind blew some crazy cold weather down the streets of downtown.

Brrrrrr!

I know that there are plenty of you out there enjoying the *much* colder weather…. but us Florida people are pretty well known for being cold weather wimps. It’s kinda funny though. We spend all year in the heat and humidity – wishing aloud for colder weather… and when it finally comes, we all groan that it’s too cold outside. I guess we can’t make up our minds.

I do enjoy the colder weather for the most part… it’s just the bite the wind has really is not my favorite.

Anywho… I spent maybe a half hour playing around with my gear and then I’d had enough, packed up and headed home.

Strobist info (no photo today – I know… I just forgot): Flash at camera right on manfroto nano stand about 3 feet high with shoot through umbrella (which was like a kite!). SB800 Flash had a 1/4 CTO gel (I lost my 1/2 the other day – and haven’t replaced it yet), and was shot at 24mm / 1/128 power and triggered with pocket wizards. I had to weigh down the stand with my gear bag due to the wind.

Camera Info: 50mm f/1.8, ISO= 500, shutter= 1/50 second On tripod and triggered with the remote you see in my hand.

And here’s an outtake – I was soooooo cold! My cheeks and nose were frozen! so I tried to warm them up a bit and accidently hit the button on the remote I had in my hand. =)

Same strobist info as the one above. No post on this except the crop/watermark/text and resize for the web. =)

 

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Meet Rocky – day 3.365

Day 3

Despite the fact that I have a pretty well injured knee, I decided to go out and do my day 3 shot. I was actually headed to do something downtown when the though occurred to me that the fair (my day 1 photo) was having it’s last night tonight. While we were walking around last time we chatted for a little while with a VERY interesting man at the gold fish game. He seemed like an interesting fellow… so I decided that tonight would be his night. =)

I drove back to Waterford, parked and walked in to the area where I remembered meeting this interesting fellow who had left an impression on me. I had to wait for about a half hour for him to return from dinner on a nearby bench. This gave me a chance to chat with a few of his coworkers and get a little more info on my new friend.

His name is Rocky. (I’m horrible with names so I didn’t remember this the first time).

Apparently, Rocky is famous to an extent. For what? Well… from what I could gather, he has really lived! He is a walker… he’s walked from south florida to central florida to meet up with this carnival on several occasions. He used to be an animator “back in the day”, but has worked on and off at this carnival since 1973. He married his wife on the bumper cars which were behind me on the bench I sat at while all his friends told me these interesting tid bits.

When Rocky came back from his break I asked him if he minded posing for a photo and he happily obliged. I set up at the booth I had originally seen him and had him lean towards me as if to entice me to play. After I clicked off a few shots, Rocky informed me that he really enjoyed this game called “beer blast,” so we headed over to that booth where I managed to snag another few shots. I thanked Rocky for his time and the friendly chat and I sincerely hope this is not the last I hear from him. I gave him my card and told him that if he emails me I will email him a digital copy of his photo. He said he would do that and then mentioned that it had been years since he’d had his photo taken and that he was looking forward to seeing what I got.

Rocky

I’m glad I decided to ditch the downtown shot tonight. What a great night! =)

Strobist set up for this shot is HERE

~Squeek!!!

PS~ Here’s an outtake from tonight too! =)
the heckle

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in Photography

 

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A little photo fun…

So I was doing my typical surfing the web today and I saw a link to watch a few of the Joe McNally videos up on NikonUSA website. So I watched them and was amazed at this video in particular. It’s a really neat video if you would like to watch it I would highly recommend spending a few minutes on it and the other two he posted which are HERE and HERE. Anyway… so I got to thinking. What if you’re not Joe and don’t have access to like 20 SB900 flashes? What if you only have one… like me? Well… I think doing something similar to THIS is still possible. How? Well…. it means a little more work…

Basically…. my idea is this – start with the same basic settings and environment Joe uses in his video. A nice dark environment and a slow shutter speed (I kept my shutter open for 3 seconds). You also want to keep in mind that you do not want a shallow depth of field… so that means a higher aperture – f8 is what I used today while playing around. Now here’s where things get a little more complicated. I was playing around during the day in the house and so the only environment that I could shoot in that I could get pretty dark was our bathroom – which has no windows. So I set up my tripod in the bathtub and my flash (a SB800) with a diy snoot straw grid on it in front of the closed bathroom door. I set the flash to 1/32 power with a pocket wizard on it and held my other pocket wizard in my hand so I could pop the flash repeatedly, remotely. [NOTE** I need another hand! Operating the camera, the pocket wizard to trigger the flash and throwing a scarf into the air proved quite difficult with only the two hands. lol!]  The power was set so that it would refresh pretty quickly. Set it any higher than that and it just can’t keep up. If you listen to Joe’s video, he tells you his are set for 1/64 power… but because of the bit of light coming in despite the fact that I was in the darkest place in the house, I had to go with a little more umph to help drown out the ambient coming in through the cracks around the door. I also shot the flash from above where I was hoping to catch the scarf, so as not to illuminate the gigantic mirror (and probably the whole bathroom) with each pop of the flash. I’m sure in a larger environment I wouldn’t have needed to do so much directing of the light, but I had to make sure that I didn’t accidently illuminate the bathroom. =)

I also didn’t have a beautiful dancer to work with and it’s been my experience in the past that trying to get my 3 year old to move in a particular way is too difficult for her. Not to mention that the bathroom was DARK and small…. so not exactly a conducive environment for someone to dance around in anyway. But I digress. So I grabbed a frilly little scarf that I had in my studio props bin and began to throw it around in the beam of light my flash created. It was a little on the crazy side to do alone, but it turned out kinda neat and proved that I could do this with the one flash. So now I have a proof of concept I guess. =)

Well, that’s all well and good… but how does that all work with a dancer who would be moving around probably in some type of line through your designated shooting space? Okay. So here’s my thoughts on it and something I plan on trying out soon. If you have someone to help you out… they can essentially be a moving human lightstand for you. They can point the light at the dancer and move WITH them. But now you ask… wouldn’t the human lightstand be in the shot? No. Not as long as the light is directed in such a way as to not illuminate them….. ONLY the dancer. That might mean using something like a snoot or a grid to help direct light in a particular direction – away from the human lightstand. This is something I’ve done before, kinda… when I did a shoot a while back with Mandala and we made her Patronus photo. There’s no real trickery there. It’s just light painting which isn’t a new concept.

The main difference in this technique vs. Joe’s is that his subject would be illuminated quite a bit more than mine. Why? Because he had a ton of lights that were popping all together and so the light was illuminating the subject from all directions with each pop of the flashes. With the one flash and directing it with a grid or snoot, you cut down on the area of the dancer that will be hit with the flash and there would be no fill to get rid of the shadows on your subject. You could try adding in another flash if you have the gear to make it work… but it probably means using another PW too – neither of which I have. Sometimes you have to find a way to make the gear you have work for you. =)

Anywho… here’s the shots I got today. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them! And if any of you out there are a dancer and would like to experiment with this with me, please let me know! Just leave a comment below. =) Enjoy!

~Squeek!!!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2009 in how to, lighting, Photography, tutorial

 

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Do you wanna ROCK?! …[the White Seamless]…

heh… =)

I’ve been asked more than a few times about my studio setup. It’s a 9ft roll of white seamless (most of the time) and some white tileboards. Often, the questions come about shooting on seamless and typically I point people to Zack’s blog where he talks in depth about this very topic.

I thought, however, that since I do a majority of my studio sessions on the seamless I would go ahead and take a few minutes to go over my setup and touch a small amount on the basics for the lighting. If you would like a more in depth tutorial I highly recommend checking out Zack’s site and that lighting on the cheap guru: David Hobby aka Strobist.

So I’ll start this whole thing off by showing you my current setup. Since my studio is currently in my house, I would like to point out the optimal size for this setup would be a bit larger than what I currently utilize, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got! =) The basic dimensions for my studio space are about 12ft wide by 24ft long and 9ft high. It’s not possible to utilize every inch of space – there’s almost two feet of dead space behind the seamless paper due to the stand and the length can be adjusted if needed, but it’s set up for 12 feet out at the moment.

Based on my experiences thus far with the limitations of these dimensions, I would highly recommend a larger space. Not necessarily the width, though I’ve certainly encounter situations where I needed a larger width -like with large groups of people – but definitely the height and length!

Basically, the average adult is somewhere between 5 – 6 feet tall or so (some even a little bit taller than that). So they already are very close to the top of my seamless – which is extended to within about two inches of the ceiling. This means, that if you are shorter or shoot from a lower vantage point for any reason you’re going to end up seeing the edge of the seamless and whatever is surrounding it. Sometimes I have found myself having to fix this in photoshop later – which is why I bring it up now. Setting your seamless up so that it’s taller than 9 feet is better! =)

The longer length of the studio helps immensely with separating your light sources, which is important. I’ll explain why: when you look at your basic setup for shooting on, say, a high-key white background you have two lights on either side of the seamless to light it and then the lighting on your subject. Think of them as two separate entities. Light your background to what you desire and then you concentrate on your lighting for your subject. The further away from the background the more independent you make those two lighting situations. Since I’m pretty limited on how far away from the background my subject can be, I have pulled the folding doors off of a spare closet to use as barn doors to help control light spillage onto my subject. It’s my cheap and easy solution to the issue of limited space for the moment. =)

My lighting equipment at this point consists of two Alien Bee AB800’s and one Nikon SB800 speedlight. I will often vary where the different lights are actually used based on what I want with the lighting… but my most common setup for things like headshots is one AB800 on the left side of the seamless, one SB800 speedlight on the right side of the seamless and then the last AB800 upfront with the softbox – if I’m using the softbox (because I don’t have a way to use the SB with the giant softbox at this point). If I’m not wanting to use the softbox, then it’s both AB’s on the background and the SB on the subject.

It all comes down to working with the equipment you have. I’ve found though that the list of “I wants” tends to grow exponentially the more you learn with lighting and the more you wanna play around.

Of course the setup I mentioned earlier is what I use if I wanna make that white seamless a nice hi-key or blown background. But what if I don’t want a white, blown background? Easy. Because I’ve made sure to light the background separately from the subject, I can just make any adjustments without messing up my lighting on the subject. If I want a grey background – a nice medium gray – then I just go over to the background lights and turn them off.

The further away the subject is from the actual background, the darker the white will seem. AND, if you selectively light your subject with something like a grid, you can make your white seamless seem black.

HUH?!

Yeah. White becomes black.

You will find that you have to play around with your camera settings too though… to make sure your exposing your shots for the background and then using the light on the subject to make them look how you want. Basically, what I’m saying here is – get the background to look the way you want and then start figuring out how much light you will need/want on your subject and try to direct that light in a way that gives you the effect you’re looking for.

I’ve found that everyone explains it a little bit differently, but when I heard that same explanation it clicked for me. We all learn in our own way. =)

It all comes down to controlling where the light will go. And trying to see that in your mind ahead of time. It’s not something that comes to you overnight! You have to play around. But that’s the fun of it! Go play around with what equipment you have! That’s how I learned what I know so far, and it’s fun too!

And one more thing, go check out that strobist site! Equipment can sometimes be a bit on the expensive side. Okay… it’s often expensive. (at least for my wallet). Strobist has links to all kinds of DIY projects that are fun to create and even more fun to use. =) Have fun!!!

~Squeek!!!

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2009 in how to, lighting, Photography, seamless, tutorial

 

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