Since May 6, 2009 I have been posting a picture every week to an album titled, “Image of the Week” on my facebook page. I am somewhere around 50 weeks in and although a burden at times, the pictures are fun and have become a visual timeline. I chose to do a weekly project because whenever I come across a 365 project I tend to be disappointed. It is too much pressure and time commitment for most people to post an engaging picture everyday for a year. The pictures therefore result in being fairly lousy. One ongoing 365 project I enjoy is Zack Arias’ “Dedpxl” and even that has been slipping lately.
Anyways- I blogged about my headshots work with the spring play cast earlier. I had an idea in my head of this bully scenario that would utilize a levitation technique I saw in American Photo Magazine a while back. The idea is to have the camera on a tripod and to take a picture of the background and then place the subject in the frame standing on a chair and take another picture. In Photoshop [OMG PS CS5!] they are then composited together to erase the chair and create a levitation. I decided to do this here because we were already in the school and people were eager to help out with an Image of the Week.
I grabbed two friends, Christine and James, briefly explained my idea and had them pose. If I were to re-shoot this I would pay more attention to the details of the pose. James’ facial expression is a little too excited and I wish I had told him to put the bottoms of his feet against the lockers to give the feeling of more force. They were both in the midst of a dress rehearsal hence their out-of-place, vintage clothing. I don’t mind the clothing though, it actually adds to the unique factor IMO.
My camera was thrown on a tripod and aimed down the hall with the 18-55mm kit lens attached. Zoomed to 24mm. The lighting as shown in the foreground picture consisted of two hot shoe flashes. The main light was popping into a shoot-through umbrella about 45 degrees and 5 feet away from the subjects. The flash was zoomed halfway and I choked up on the umbrella rod so the light had a little more punch but still evenly lit both Christine and James. The second light was about 12 feet down the hallway from the first light. It was a bare flash that provided a little rim separation on Christine’s back. Here are the two original files:
[1/20 at f/4.0 ISO 100]
The first step in post production was to composite the two images. I brought in the picture of the subjects on top of the background. It took a minute to align them due to my crappy walmart-pod/grubby hands. Once the pictures were in the right spot I added a mask to the foreground layer and meticulously painted everything around the people black with the paintbrush. This process took quite a bit of patience and reminded me frequently of why I dislike composites.
The rest of my time in PS was pretty easy-going. I copied the composited foreground layer and cloned out Christine’s mic that she had been wearing because she was due on stage shortly. While on my cloning rampage I noticed the hand-truck down the hallway that I didn’t like. I copied the background layer and cloned that out as well. Jumping back to the foreground layer; I copied that one last time, de-saturated it, added a high-pass filter, and set the layer mode to hard light. The subjects were a tad out of focus and this pulled them back into detail. I think I lowered the opacity of the high-pass layer to 70% or 80%. After compositing I lost all the shadows which made the picture seem as if the people were just floating randomly. To fix this I made a selection via pen tool of the shadows from the original picture and created a curves adjustment on those areas. I bent the curve towards the bottom right corner of the graph to darken the selections and create shadow. The last physical change I made was to draw the toe of Christine’s shoe. The chair leg cut it off in the pictures so I drew a selection via pen tool of the shape I thought it would have and cloned in surrounding materials from the shoe. Here is where we are at now:
I then did a quick contrast enhancement using levels. My next problem was the color. The original background was very green because I didn’t have time while taking the picture to figure out the correct white balance so I fixed that with a color balance adjustment. I added a little more blue to the background with another color balance adjustment and then added a “warming filter” over the subjects by using the same technique. Lastly I added a vignette with the curves adjustment set to luminosity. The vignette runs into the hallway on the right side in order to center the viewer’s attention on the subjects. My layers palette:
Arriving at the final image I am pretty happy. I still need some work on my compositing skills and I wish the pose was slightly different as mentioned before but all-in-all I like the result.
take a picture,