Rework with a little Ziser Help

Mike & Kelly & Family

Trust me, it is a whole lot easier if you get it right in camera the first time. A whole lot easier. Anyway, I didn’t. I didn’t get all that good a picture of this family, and it was bugging me. The first problem was that I didn’t have all four of them with a reasonable expression. You gotta love groups! The first thing I had to do was to put a left side and a right side together of two pictures. Lesson learned: Keep shooting until you get a picture with all people looking forward!

The next thing I wanted was that burn and dodge effect. I tried a couple of things that didn’t work, then I remembered that I had seen a couple of things on David Zisers blog. The first one I found was this. This video post was specifically about dodge and burn. I could not quite make it work. Then I looked around a little more, and found this. I had this one bookmarked to look at sometime. It is about pulling people out and putting them on a different background. I didn’t really need something so drastic, but I decided to pull them out so I could textureize the background that was flat beige. I then used the same technique for dodge and burn that he did in this post.

I will briefly tell you, but it is better to just take a look at his video. First make a curves adjustment layer, and pull the right side way down to darken the image. Create a mask, then with a large soft brush swish through the faces to lighten them. Then use different size brushes to do touch ups. I think it worked.

David has lots of information and many many video posts. It is worth checking out.

The Magic of Noise Ninja

So, I have been thinking about getting some noise reduction software for sometime now. I always feel that my higher ISO pictures from my D90, such as 1600, were not quite as good as I would like, but I always seem to need to shoot at that speed.

Well, I jumped off the fence the other day. The wedding shot that I did had a lot of outdoor shots in the dark with some flash added. Turns out I didn’t hit my bride and groom with quite enough light. Lesson learned. But, I need to salvage this somehow.

I did a bit of web research and decided on Noise Ninja. This plugin has been around for a while now, and there are some really good challengers. In the end I decided based on price, and that they had both a Phtotoshop and Aperture plugin to go with their stand alone app.

Here are the comparison images. First is without Noise Ninja.


Here is the same image with Noise Ninja applied in Photoshop.


These images are super zoomed in, and I wish that I had hit them with more light, but the second image is cleaned up quite a bit. The noise reduction has made them softer than I would have liked, but it is a good compromise with noise removal. This was done with a D90 user contributed profile that I found on their site. I don’t really know how to use it yet, but it was a good start.

Just found the Hongkiat site

I have been looking around for inspiration for a site redesign. I have a few things going on in my head for little touches and stuff, but I still don’t have a handle on the core colors I want to go with. I was searching google for “backgrounds”, “photoshop abstracts”, and other things when I stumbled upon

This is a pretty cool site. It has just about everything. Well, actually, a lot of the content is an agregation of other content, so they have stuff like 40 cool abstract and background photoshop tutorials,  60 useful photoshop actions, 41 great looking free wordpress themes, and so on. There is a lot of content collected here.

There is material here on photoshop, wordpress, icons, backgrounds, and more. A lot of is is more “design” and “photo-retouching” related, but it seems like I will spend some time here looking around.

Whitney Jumping Poster

I was shooting at my studio class and noticed that some people were taking pictures of Whitney jumping. Whitney leads her cheer group, so she is a natural at this kind of thing. We weren’t really set up for this kind of shoot. We were doing head shots before.

Jumping as shot We had a gray muslin background, and the background light was too low and not configured correctly. I would have rathered it had a regular reflector pointing higher at the background. The background wasn’t really high enough either. To change the angle, I stood on a riser, and held my camera above my head. This way I wouldn’t have Whitney’s hands above the background.

We had to photogenics strobes in softboxes at 45deg to her that we had set up for portraits before. They still seemed to cover her well enough.

So I thought that I had a pretty good shot, but I wanted to so something with it. I didn’t like the background, and I needed a way to hide the light, so I decided to cut her out of the background.

This was harder than I thought. Well, actually just time consuming. The quick selection tool was horrible. It kept selecting parts of her. I then tried the magic wand. That was a little better, but there was still much to do. I then spent quite a bit of time with the other selection tools adding and subtracting from my selection.

Jumping on White Once I had her selected, I feathered the edge a few pixels, and then coppied her onto a blank layer. Another layer with a fill of white, and we were almost done.

When I looked at the edges of her legs, there was a bit of a grey line beside her jeans that didn’t look right. I replaced that grey with white. That looked much better.

Then I had an issue with her hair. I managed to “erase” some of her hair (actually did it with a mask) on the right side of her head. But, I am still not sure what to do about the grey that is still between her hair on the left side of her hair. I am sure that would show if printed.

Jumping Cheezy Poster So that wasn’t too bad, and was really what I had started out to do, but now that I had her seperated from the background, could I put her on a different background?

I looked through some older images and found one that was mostly clouds and sky. I then created another image with this sky, and added Whitney in as another layer. Because she was feathered when I cut her out, she placed pretty well on top.

Then, I expanded the canvas to give lots of space around the image. I added a drop shadow to the cloud layer and added the text at the bottom.

Voila. Cheezy poster.

Very Cool Shoot and Post Tutorial

Well, I just stumbled along this guest post on Scott Kelby’s blog. Ok, stumble is not the correct word as I usually stop by every day or two. This is from photographer Dustin Snipes, and a shoot he did of high school basketball stars.

This was just good timing, as I started the studio lighting class yesterday. It is great to see how others have set up their lights, and the effect on the pictures. Even better how he shows how he created the entire look, from the lights to the post processing. I like his use of the “high contrast” look. (Even better that he knows that this is not a look for every pictures.)

I learned a great photoshop tip from this post too. One way to “dodge and burn” is to create a new layer an fill it with 50% grey.¬†Then¬†set the blending mode to Softlight. Now, with a¬†brush opacity¬†of 5% and¬†hardness of¬†0%¬†, you can paint with either white or black. This will accent the highlights or darken the shadows just by switching the brush color on the same layer. Neat.

Trying to learn photoshop

I have been spending some time trying to learn photoshop. Some of my photos seem like they are pretty good, but just seem to be missing that little something. That is what I am trying to learn how to do. Also, I learned with the whole Gavin thing, that I am definitely in need of portrait retouching skills.

With that in mind, there have been a few things that I have been doing. I have been reading Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS3 for Digital Photographers book. I skipped over much of the beginning on using Bridge and stuff, and went right for the good stuff. The back of the book has a whole section on portraits too. I have read a lot of good info, but have never sat down in front of the computer and tried anything. Now at least I have an idea what can be done. Next I need to find time to try some stuff.

I have also started working through another of Scott’s books, 7 Point System for Adobe Photoshop. This book, I am actually sitting in front of the computer and following through the chapters. That really is the only way you could get anything out of this book. I really like it, but I have a lot more chapters to get through still. I like how he takes you one image at a time through the system, over and over. I really need to be hit over the head sometimes before I learn/understand some of these retouching ideas. I was starting to “get it”, but the last time I picked up the book was a week and a half ago. I need to sit down with it again.

I also started to watch the pod cast at Photoshop User TV. I found that you can access the video’s a little easier though iTunes. Anyway, I tried to keep up with one of the tutorials that Cory Barker was doing (from episode 149), which was more of an effect than a photo retouch, and found out just how little I knew, and how fast they can move in those tutorials. I could use two monitors. I was also pressing that pause button every couple of seconds. Even following along I got stuck, but found the forums at Planet Photoshop, (Cory’s site) to be a lifesaver.

The more I get into photography, the more I realize just how much I need to learn.