Archives for January 2015

"Darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive Westerner is set upon always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamps, from oil lamps to gaslight, and on to the electrical one. His quest for better light never ends, he spares no pains to eradicate even the slightest of shadows" - Junichiro Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows (1933)

In praise of Shadows – Junichiro Tanizaki Quote, #

January 12, 2015 - No Comments!

Inspiration – The Creation of the Photographic Idea (Part 2)

Food for thought - The Creation of the Photographic Idea (Part 2)

Following my recent post of Food for thought - The Creation of the Photographic Idea (Part 1), Halsman also outlined a series of stimulation's a photographer can put to use and help generate creative ideas for any specific photographic project.

1. Stimulation by Brainstorming

It is simply the method of Brainstorming; either individually or collectively within a group of your peers. You can easily discuss or be open to discuss possible ideas or generate new outcomes from that original idea. You may find that it is easier to Mind Map your ideas.

2. Stimulation by Memory

Halsman states "the roots of most of our ideas draw from the great reservoir of our memory". That being said when we read; watch movies; listen to music we enrich our possibilities as artists and humans. However when we try and put our own memory to use we often can't avoid imitation. There are two types of imitation. (1) When imitation means solely copying someone else's work (it is wrong and becomes worthless) and (2) when it creates stimulation which can help develop something that exists and adds elements of the 'something new'. As long as the person adds his or her own values and beliefs it then becomes part of the creative process.

3. Stimulation by Knowledge

In step (2) of how memory can trigger our imagination, our mind can contain different information of knowledge. It can reference to previous outcomes and potential create possible predictions of known effects. This could be simply as reading the scene in front of you and how you tackle the problem, use your own photographic knowledge to help stimulate and create your "vision".

4. Stimulation by an Object

As photographers we often see and view more then most people. We are constantly on the lookout for something interesting however these objects not only make photographs more intereesting but can also stimulate our creative ideas to produce something highly unusual. If you have such an object...give some actual thought to it.

5. Stimulation by the Photograph itself

It is quite common that the frequent source of most inspiration is from the creation of the final photograph. Most of the time we comment only when we actually view the finished file or image noting that 'I should of done it this way'. The obvious advice for this point is to look for stimulation before it is too late. Visualise the image in all its details, you may not have all of them yet but work out what you want to achieve and the considerations for this. It often creates something new and or different.

6 Self-stimulation.

"The path of the impulse is directed by associations". The more logical our thinking, the more patterns in terms of our associations become established means or solutions. These often become more and more predictable and less natural. When we aren't typically faced with the problem at hand we often leave it be. Whereas if we are constantly faced with the problem we are constantly stimulating...the what, the why, the how.

January 10, 2015 - 1 comment.

Inspiration – The Creation of the Photographic Idea (Part 1)

Food for thought - The Creation of the Photographic Idea (Part 1)

I recently received a copy of Philippe Halsman's (1961) book on The Creation of the Photographic Idea. He maintains that there is a immense difference between "making" a photograph and "taking" a photograph and I couldn't agree with him more. In the book he created a series of rules which can be seen as tools of all photographic art. These are helped to create a photograph into a striking and unusual image by the following:

1. The Rule of the Direct Approach

One main thing that Halsman mentions is to be as straightforward and as plain with your imagery as possible. This can often make a strong photograph. often to many people are overwhelmed with the notion of "what to photograph?", when it could be a clearly obvious solution. It is simply to make an ordinary and uninteresting subject appear interesting and unusual.

2. The Rule of the Unusual Technique

This rule is quite simple and often evident. Typically the subject is often ordinary and uninteresting however our aim as photographers is to make our subject interesting and create an unusual picture. We are free to do anything we want to do without the photographic technique:

  • Unusual lighting: how do you light your subject? Is it complex lighting setup? is it one or more lights? could it simply be no lights? at dusk/dawn/outside/inside?
  • Unusual angles: both the angle of the camera vs the angles of the models or subjects
  • Unusual exposure: how long is the duration? what does this do to the image?
  • We can simply move our camera
  • We can use different filters or shoot through different objects on our lens
  • We can use different lenses to achieve different results
  • We can shoot our subjects on unusual backgrounds or materials
  • We can distort our subject and picture
  • We can use different and unusual composition
  • We choose to continue our techniques by our post production; what do we want to create?
  • We use our creativity and our imagination
  • Even when we are finished we choose and insist on how we produce the content; how is it laid out.

3. The Rule of the Added Unusual Feature

The photographer to capture the audiences attention by drawing attention to something unexpected by introducing an unusual feature or prop into the photograph.

4. The Rule of the Missing Feature

Stimulates the view by going against his or her expectations.

5. The Rule of Compounded Features

Sometimes you find a particular idea which is often highly individual, however you realise that it is quite week to make it significantly unusual...This rule of the compound feature is to simply not disregard the original idea but to simply combine other rules and add to the originality to the work. By combining one or more ideas, by developing and compounding...it can typically create a staisfying result.

6. The Rule of the Literal of the Ideographic Method.

Often photographers are presented to visually illustrate their own ideas. Typically invent or create a new thought about a particular subject or object. This rule advices to translate the literral work into images, this doesn't have to be the simply words but rather the idea of the statement which is expressed visually.

January 8, 2015 - 1 comment.

Behind the PSD! – The State Law Building in Brisbane

The state law building brisbane _brockmcfadzean

Here is a recent edit of mine of the State Law building in Brisbane, Australia. It was photographed earlier this year using my iphone5, during my lunchtime break. I wanted to re-edit this image using my Photoshop knowledge and apply some nice tonal ranges for my black and white conversion process.

IMAGE SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Camera - Iphone 5.

WORKFLOW:

• Creating an appropriate channel of contrast to determine the overall tonal value and range of my black and white conversion. Apply this to a single layer above the background set to Luminosity blending mode.
• Selective colour adjustments to increase the cyan and blue values to add more contrast to the sky.
• Black and white solid colour layer set to colour (black and white conversion).
• A overall 10% highlight increase in a curve.
• Selectively darkening using curves the right hand side of the building and selectively brightening using curves on specific lines of the main building.
• A gradient map fill to accent a vignette to give more depth to the image.
• Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher
• Added noise to the image.

 

building-2-beforeafter

Before / After

January 6, 2015 - No Comments!

Photoshop 101: My Custom Photoshop Preferences

Below is a series of my own preferences which you can easily customise how Photoshop can work for you.

GENERAL SETTINGS
To access your photoshop settings, simply press Command/ctrl + K to bring up the Preferences dialogue box.

Interface -

interface

 

interface-custom

 

interface-custom-white

I have set my Standard Screen Mode to a Custom Colour of White (252, 252, 252)

 

interface-custom-grey
I have set my Standard Screen Mode to a Custom Colour of Grey (128, 128, 128)

File Handling -

file-handling

I typically have "Disable Compression of PSD and PSB Files" Checked; however It creates a bigger file yet saves 1/3rd faster then normal.

Performance -

performance

Cursors -

cursors

My brush settings are set to 'Normal Brush Tip' with the option of showing the Crosshair whilst brushing. All the other cursors (mainly the pen tool) is set to precise.

 

PALETTE LAYOUT

default-photoshop-screen

My current custom 'default' layout for working in Photoshop CC2014

 

CURVES OPTIONS

 

curves-options

I typically have my curves display options set to pigment/ink % so that I can work in percentages rather then light values.

 

LEVELS SETTINGS

levels-defaults

I have my levels display options enabled to Enhance Monochromatic Contrast so that It clips the channels independently preserving the colour of the image. I have set the Shadow clipping point to 0, so that it keeps as much of the shadow detail as possible within the adjustment of "Auto Levels"

levels-custom

January 5, 2015 - No Comments!

Behind the PSD! – A portrait of Cesar Casier

Cesar-Casier-fb2048

It is quite amazing to see how you dictate your vision....endless possibilities and choices of simply changing a simple view of how you edit your image. This particular thought was about how light can effect an image and mood. This natural light image was a (Behind the Scenes) photo whilst I was assisting a photographer late 2013. Quite amazing to see the change of direction of where it came from.

IMAGE SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Camera - Canon 1D-x with a 24-70mm F2.8 Lens
Exposure - 35mm at F4, 1/125th of a second.

PHOTOSHOP PROCESSING/WORKFLOW

Cesar - Original Image

Original Image
The Original image was opened in Photoshop and I generated a variety of Zone Masks to see the luminosity of each zone mask/channel*. This is ultimately to create the appropriate channels and determine the overall tonal values and range for the image.

2.-zone-10
Zone 10 - The darkest possible zone of highlight information. Very little detail in the eyes or the right side of the face.

3.-zone-9

Zone 9 - Slightly lighter then Zone 10, however starting to have more detail in the skin.

4.-zone-8
Zone 8 - Lighter then both Zone 9 and 10, ability to see more detail within the eyes.

6.-d&b
Zones 8, 9 and 10 were selectively masked with each other to bring out the appropriate amount of light. Ability to merge each layer

7.-heal-and-clone
I used the healing brush to clean up any minor blemishes or imperfections to the image.

Some minor Dodge and Burning to remove the unwanted bumps and scratches on the forehead, and reduce the light inconsistencies that are present on the face.

Removal of the earphones using the clone brush.

8.skin-
Skin adjustment using an Inverted High Pass Adjustment to reduce the transitions of light on the skin.

9-more-d&b
More dodging and burning was required to even out the subtleties to the skin.

Dodged the upper and lower lips and eyes. Selectively masked in some hair detail

10---again-more-d&b
I refined the dodging and burning to create shape (a 3-dimensionsal structure to the face).

Adding more highlights and shadows to the face, opening up the eyes and refining the light fall off.

11---more-d&b-again
Final Dodge and Burn to clean up the image.

12---extra-tweaks
Final tweaks to the image included adding Mid-tone Clarity adjustment using (Adobe Camera Raw) detail to the image only targeted to the Mid-tones and Sharpening targeted to highlights only using blend-if. For this particular image I used the 'sharpening details' function from within Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension. *Please not this is only available for users of Photoshop CC and higher. I also added noise to the image.

before-after
Before / After

January 5, 2015 - 1 comment.

Behind the PSD! – Titanic Museum – Belfast. Northern Ireland

IMG_2988-fb2048

This image was photographed at the Titanic Musueum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

IMAGE SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Camera - Iphone 5.

CONSIDERATIONS

1. To create a really simple high contrast black and white image.
2. Utilise channels efficiently to produce the desired contrast.
3. Add an appropriate vignette to help focus the viewers attention and create more depth within the image.

PHOTOSHOP PROCESSING

Step 1. Import the original square iphone image into Photoshop CC2014.

IMG_2988-originalOriginal Image

Step 2. Select the appropriate channel to edit the luminosity of the image. As this image is already monochromatic, it only gives you two main options for your choice. Both the composite channel of RGB (or known as grey) as well as the individual channels of red, green, blue which will all be the same value. There is a slight difference between the RGB and the Individual channels.
*Please note that you do have to have the Channels palette open to view your channels within your image. Simply go to File > Window > Channels to display the channel palette if you can't find it.

Step 3. Once the channel is selected decide how you wish to edit the contrast of the Channel. You can use any method of adding contrast to your channel (curves, levels, brightness/contrast methods), I simply used my method of Apply Image to both darken and brighten the contrast of the channel.

IMG_2988-multiply
Original Image, Selected the RGB (Grey) Channel - Multiplied x 3 using Apply Image

IMG_2988-multiply-invert

Same Channel Selected, Inverted the Channel or Selection - Multiplied x 3 using Apply Image

 

IMG_2988-combined-effect
The Inverted Channel of the Last Selection; The combined effect of (6) multiply adjustments only using Apply Image

Step 4. Once the combined channel has been created. I copied this channel onto its own individual layer within the layer stack.
*A useful shortcut I use is by pressing Command/Ctrl + A (select all) then Command/Ctrl + C (copy), Create a new layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N) and then to (paste) Command/Ctrl + V.

Step 5. To create a selective vignette using the gradient fill adjustment layer.

IMG_2988-gradient

This Gradient Fill was set to Reflected, 128Degrees and with Reverse enabled.

Step 6. Using the combined channel as a mask for a curve adjustment layer. (exactly the same channel as per step 3).

IMG_2988-curve

This adjustment performed through the combined mask, subtly lifts boost the highlight information.

Step 7. Created a noise layer using the Facebook Powertools Photoshop extension.

IMG_2988-beforeafter

Before / After

January 5, 2015 - No Comments!

BEHIND THE PSD! – A portrait of Paul Giggle.

Paul-Giggle-fb2048

This recent portrait of Paul was photographed when I was assisting him in Milan late last year for his 12 Natural Wonders 2015 Campaign. I wanted to create a natural light portrait of him, showing the depth and qualities of light within the location. This image was captured using only available light with his Lecia S2.

IMAGE SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Camera - Lecia S2
Exposure - F2.8, 80mm Contax lens, 1/90th sec, ISO 320

paul-giggle---originalOriginal Image


ELEMENTS OF THE RAW CONVERSION

All of my raw files are imported into Aperture 3 for Raw processing. I specifically use Aperture 3 for two main reasons (1) To be able to reduce exposure for the highlights and retain the most amount of detail (2) colour temperature; how the software actually treats my raw file as a base and determine what my "colour temperature" will be. The raw image file was imported into Aperture 3. The image of Paul is slightly overexposed however it doesn't appear to have any highlight clipping warnings. I changed my exposure adjustments of my file to -1.0 recovering nearly all of the blown highlight detail on his face.

paul-giggle---exposureExposure Adjustments Only

The image was then exported as a 8Bit file .PSD file and imported into Photoshop CC 2014 for the remaining bulk of processing and retouching.

CONSIDERATIONS

With regards to the final outcome of the editing, I typically design or create specific outcomes depending on the image. For this particular image, I wanted to create a very high contrast black and white effect to the portrait. With this in mind, I have to create an appropriate edit with several considerations:

1. Choose a suitable black and white conversion method which is appropriate. Does it give enough contrast to the image? Does it allow you to edit selectively or adjust any particular regions within the image?
2. Does the image require any further refinements? Do you need to even out the skin in terms of lighting? Do you need to edit the skin in any way? Are there any refinements needed to be made?
3. What is the chosen output size of the image? Do I require the image to be printed or is it simply used for web?

With these considerations in mind, I am now able to refine and create the desired outcome.

PHOTOSHOP PROCESSING

Step 1. The image was imported into Photoshop CC2014.

Step 2. The image was then processed using my latest Film Styles Action. I selected the Kodak Technidol preset within the action set. This action created the suitable contrast that I desired for my black and white conversion.

1. grade

Step 3. I then added a Grunge Effect set to Multiply blending mode (set to 60% opacity) to reduce the amount of highlight information within the image.

2 grunge and clean

Step 4. I edited an appropriate channel by darkening the highlights using my Generate Highlights action. This selected the luminosity of the image and closed it down by 2 stops. This was selectively masked onto the image. The Blend-if sliders were also adjusted to target the highlights only. If you are not familiar with the use of Blend-if, you can read more about how to effectively use Blend-if Sliders here.

Step 5. I cleaned up the image by removing the dirt from his jacket using the Healing brush. I performed this adjustment using the new Retouching Toolkit by Conny Wallstrom.

Step 6. A selective brighten curve adjustment with an inverted channel as a layer mask, was applied so that it acted like a Digital Reflector. This allowed any adjustment when applied, to selectively brighten any shadow information. As you can see this was selectively applied to the eyes to create better depth in the portrait.

Step 7. A similar adjustment as stage (6) was applied for the iris.

Step 8. I used the Retouching Toolkit to generate a variety of appropriate Dodge and Burning layers to even out the transitions of the skin.

3. d&b

Step 9. I felt the image needed to refine some of the mid-tone contrast. I simply used the camera raw filter as an adjustment layer, applied some Clarity to the image to bring out this mid-tone contrast detail. The layer was then set to 60% opacity and split using Blend-if so that it only filters through the midtones.

4. detail

Step 10. The next step in my workflow was to use my custom sharpening method which I originally learnt from Guy Gowan. It has been adjusted to suit my preferences when working with my files and has the ability to sharpen the highlights and shadows independently.

Step 11. One of my final steps within my workflow is to add a level of noise or grain to my images. This was created using the camera raw filter and applying grain to the image.

Step 12.Lastly the PSD was saved to my appropriate backup hard-drive and a copy of the high res image was exported out onto facebook using the Facebook Powertools.

 

5. Before and After - Paul
Before / After

January 4, 2015 - 1 comment.

Photoshop 101: Free Vintage Tones Action

A simple vintage tones action using levels adjustment layers.

Vintage Tone Action

EXAMPLES OF THE VINTAGE TONES:

Original:
vintage_original

Vintage Preset (1)
vintage_vintage_1

Vintage Preset (2)
vintage_vintage_2

Vintage Preset (3)
vintage_vintage_3

Vintage Preset (4)
vintage_vintage_4

HOW DO I INSTALL THE ACTION INTO PHOTOSHOP?

Method #1
1. Open your downloaded folder or file and navigate to the actions file. It will end in the .atn file extension.
2. Double-click the .atn file and then open Photoshop.
3. Now the set of Photoshop actions should show up in the actions panel and should be ready to use.
To access the actions panel, simply go the top bar in Photoshop and click Window > Actions. The panel should then appear somewhere within Photoshop.

*Remember to 'Enable Button Mode' (simply navigate to the drop-down menu within the Actions Panel) so that each of the actions are instantaneous*

Method # 2
1. Start this method by opening Photoshop and navigating to the drop-down menu in the Actions Panel.
2. Next click the load actions link that is highlighted in the image above.
3.Clicking the load actions button will open your folders.
4. From there navigate to the downloaded folder with the specific Photoshop actions file you have downloaded.
5. Now select the file and click Open.
6. After all this your Photoshop actions will be visible in the Actions Panel and you are ready to start using them!

Enjoy!

Download Here
[wpdm_package id='2789']

January 4, 2015 - 2 comments

Photoshop 101: How to create a simple grunge effect in Photoshop

Below is a series of steps to follow of how you can create a simple way of creating a grunge effect within Photoshop.

1. Create a duplicate of your background or a copy of a merged layer (command/ctrl + shift + option/alt + e).
2. Create a solid colour fill layer above the merged copy/duplicate layer. Set this layer to Colour
3. Merge both the Solid Colour Fill layer and the Duplicate Copy together.
4. Select either Normal/Multiply/Screen/Overlay/Softlight for your chosen grunge effect.

Note: If you don't want the hassle of creating the adjustment yourself, click the download link below.

SCREENSHOTS OF THE STEPS

1-fb2048
Step 1.

2-fb2048
Step 2.

3-fb2048
Step 3.

4-fb2048
Step 4.

5-fb2048
Step 5.

6-fb2048
Step 6.

7-fb2048
Step 7.

8-fb2048
Step 8.

9-fb2048
Step 9.

10-fb2048
Step 10.

 

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE FREE ACTION SET?

Bleach Effect

Bleach - A bleach by-pass effect with channels
Grunge [with Multiply] -
A muted grunge effect which darkens the image.
Grunge [with Screen]
- A muted grunge effect which lightens the image.
Grunge [with Overlay] - A muted grunge effect which adds contrast to the image

HOW DO I INSTALL THE ACTION INTO PHOTOSHOP?

Method #1
1. Open your downloaded folder or file and navigate to the actions file. It will end in the .atn file extension.
2. Double-click the .atn file and then open Photoshop.
3. Now the set of Photoshop actions should show up in the actions panel and should be ready to use.
To access the actions panel, simply go the top bar in Photoshop and click Window > Actions. The panel should then appear somewhere within Photoshop.

*Remember to 'Enable Button Mode' (simply navigate to the drop-down menu within the Actions Panel) so that each of the actions are instantaneous*

Method # 2
1. Start this method by opening Photoshop and navigating to the drop-down menu in the Actions Panel.
2. Next click the load actions link that is highlighted in the image above.
3.Clicking the load actions button will open your folders.
4. From there navigate to the downloaded folder with the specific Photoshop actions file you have downloaded.
5. Now select the file and click Open.
6. After all this your Photoshop actions will be visible in the Actions Panel and you are ready to start using them!

Enjoy!

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