I forgot to mention in the video, that for a preset like this, choose the settings that you would normally use for a portrait. Then in the split toning, choose an orange color with saturation around 10 for the highlight. Then choose some sort of teal color with a saturation around 10 on the shadow. Didn’t plan on doing this sort of vlog, had something very different in mind, but sickness prevented that.
aircraft, airplane, aviation, B17, Black and White, Erickson Aircraft Collection, history, Lightroom, Nik, Nik Software, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, Photoshop, plane, portrait, Post processing, Silver Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro2, warbird
I have no idea why, but I always get some relief from any mental anguish from converting an image to black and white. There is something about eliminating the color from an image and creating drama through tonal contrast and separation that soothes my mind.
The secret to a compelling monochrome image is usually contrast. In monochrome, there are two ways to create contrast; there is contrast the same as in the image before you make the conversion and then there is separating tone based on color by using color filtration in the editing software. The second method, is always foremost on my mind when I shoot for b&W, which I rarely do. My method usually means that I sort through my existing images looking for one that will look dramatic after allowing for the color filtration etc.
For the process, I use Silver Efex Pro2, now available for free from Google. It is easy and powerful. I’ve tried to get similar results just as a test in Lightroom, and it takes a lot of work, but honestly can be done. Silver Efex Pro2 comes with such a great variety of presets that it is usually a matter of choosing a preset and then making tweaks. I rarely go with the preset alone; doesn’t provide the exact look I want, and deprives me of some of my therapy.
My most used preset these days is the High Structure (smooth). I usually apply a yellow or orange filter to it, red is usually too contrasty. In most pics, yellow, orange, red filters provide increasing contrast as you move through the list. This is dependent on the color makeup of the image however and sometimes blue or green are the appropriate choice. One thing to watch for is that due to some characteristic of digital images that I don’t understand, blue usually will make noise more visible.
If you want a closer look at these images look at this gallery.
aircraft, airplane, automobile, aviation, car, channels, Dodge, history, Lightroom, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, Photoshop, plane, Post processing, rat rod, selections, WAAAM, WACO, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum
I do tend to prefer images with a natural background, however, images on white can be very useful. Still, I had never experimented with doing this with vehicles, because the standard way would require enough costly logistics that in my current financial situation, it wasn’t too realistic unless someone hired me to do it. Then one day I posted an image of a plane on Facebook and Instagram, and the background was nearly white. I began to think about that in relation with the following image.
With this image, Resurgence was in front of an open hangar door, in beautiful overcast light and the inside of the hangar was in shadow. I figured that if I burnt down the background I would have a beautiful shot that looked like it was done in a studio. Ecstatic with the results, I wondered if with a little playing around in Photoshop, I could get the on white look with cars and planes.
I started with the following shots.
The pavement behind the hangars at WAAAM is very bright and I determined that if you make a shot against their white, corrugated steel hangar walls, you would be well on your way to a white background shot. Unfortunately, I never liked that shot until I thought of this idea, so I had few shots to play with. The next step in Photoshop is to go into the Channels palette and pick the channel with the most contrast between the subject and background. Then, make a copy of that channel. Edit the levels on that channel to accentuate the contrast. Then click on the thumbnail of the channel while holding CTRL, this creates a luminance based selection. Invert this selection to select the vehicle instead of the background.
Next, turn off the visibility of the copied channel and reselect the composite RGB channel as your active channel. Go back to the layers palette and enter the refine edge dialog. Clean up the selection as much as you can here and export the results as a new layer with a layer mask. Now, with the underlying layers’ visibility turned off use your paint brush to refine the mask. Then create a layer between the original and the one with the vehicle masked out and fill it with white. This essentially finishes the process.
On the Waco YPF image, I also applied a surface blur to the shadow to get rid of the concrete texture.
Important lessons were learned in this process. I had earlier discussed with some folks at WAAAM that they felt images of their vehicles on white would be really cool. I said of course it would be possible, but quite a challenge. This experiment tells me that it would be easier than I originally envisioned. The results would be better if some equipment was rented; an actual white background, scrims to create clean reflections on shiny surfaces, etc. It can be done outside though, this goes along way to making it easier than I originally thought. Plus the method, outlined here can work, with the biggest challenge being catching ugly reflections in the shiny surfaces of the vehicles.
Click here to see these white background images closer, here to see the originals. Also take a look at my automotive, or aviation portfolio. Please contact me with any questions, or if you’d like me to do some photographic work for you.
I was at the 2015 WAAAM Traffic Jam, when a car club arrived from out of town (I can’t even remember where.) Among the cars was a 1957 Buick Roadmaster. Right away, I knew this was a very special car and it did end up winning several awards at the show. While I was there I made sure I got a pretty good number of images of this auto.
At that time I was processing most of my automobile and airplane shot through a Lightroom preset that brought the highlights down, the shadows up, and applied a lot of clarity. This preset tended to accentuate reflections and while I was working on these images, I became very disenchanted with how this made the paint job look. It pretty much ruined the color of it. So, I decided to change my method to something more like that taught by Tim Wallace at KelbyOne.
This post method is pretty basic as an overall treatment to the image. Then apply a considerable amount more clarity with the brush, to the grill, headlights, and other like items on the car. Sometimes, I even add some Tonal Contrast from Nik Software, Color Efex Pro4.
I am happier with this method. Not adding clarity to most of the automobile has the paint job looking much nicer. I do add a slight amount of clarity to airplane images overall, but a small amount that I add to most images that I make regardless of the subject.
I suggest you take a look at Tim Wallace’s classes for more information.
belly dance, Black and White, Color Efex Pro, dance, Lightroom, Nik, Nik Software, Oregon, photo, photograph, photography, Photoshop, portrait, Post processing, Silver Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro2, women
Personal projects are very important. Photographers must always develop their skills, practice those skills, invent new techniques, and keep their portfolio updated, these are all things that personal projects can provide. They can be intimidating to setup, however. One idea I’ve heard from several sources lately is to approach the project as if you were shooting an assignment for someone. This helps provide direction to the project that helps one cope with the intimidation. I’m going to tell you a bit about how I setup my most recent project.
I came up with the idea that I would shoot as if I was creating an ad for a cultural/musical festival. I did have a specific festival in mind, although I don’t want to name it here. Belly dancing was a great fit and I had worked with a dancer before whom I felt would be willing to do a shoot like this again. However, for this project I felt it important to include her dancing partner. So I asked them both if they’d be interesting in doing a trade shoot.
We then set out trying to come up with an appropriate location. I was thinking something that would create a Mid-Eastern coffee house sort of feel. After trying to come up with something for a few weeks, we decided it would probably be best to use one of the dancers’ home. I set out to come up with an idea that would give a similar ambience in her home.
What I came up with was to use a piece of fabric I found that’s color was close to saffron. Then in Photoshop, I would add a texture to the solid color. In the end I decided not to add the texture to all the images. When lit appropriately, this created the look and feel I was after.
The shooting itself was fairly easy. I let what images were most successful from the earlier shoot guide me. The only real challenge was positioning two dancers so that behind them was the background we made and nothing else. Portable backgrounds are only moderate size out of necessity and this can cause difficulties at times.
I’m not going to tell you the details of the post-processing step by step this time, but I will list a bunch of resources that I used. Lightroom and Photoshop were the main tools of course. I also used Nik’s Color Efex Pro4 (tonal contrast and glamour glow) and Silver Efex Pro2. Furthermore, shortly before we shot this, Scott Kelby hosted a guest blog by Regina Pagles, where she detailed her methodology step by step. Now, I did not follow it precisely, but this blog post did provide inspiration for post processing for many of the images. I’m sure you’ll be able to tell which ones.
Currently, I am working on producing another personal project. The production on this new one is a little more involved, but keep an eye out for it here.
Do I smooth skin in my portrait photographs? ABSOLUTELY!
This is entry is going to be less of a how-to piece and more of a philosophical piece on retouching. I will start however, by giving a very brief explanation of what I do. I currently use the “high pass skin softening” method as discussed in Scott Kelby’s Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop. I am considering learning the frequency separation method, but it looks considerably harder and I am quite happy with the results I am currently getting.
Now on to the real subject here, the philosophy of it all.
To me it seems like there is a growing tide of people pushing for totally unaltered images. I would say that at the minimum, this is horribly misled. PHOTOGRAPHS ARE NOT OBJECTIVE TRUTH and they never have been. There are many parts of the photographic process that make it impossible for a photograph to be an objective recording of what we saw. Starting with the fact that a camera can only capture a limited view and the photographer determines what is capture within that frame. Secondly, sensors and film do not function the same as your retina and lack the interpretive power of your brain, which has an immense impact on what you see.
Now, I do have a problem with retouching that drastically alters how a model looks. If your finished image has the model looking 50lbs lighter than she does, you are being dishonest. However, downplaying how noticeable a wrinkle is or something of the like is totally acceptable in my view. In fact, I find that an image presented straight out of the camera actually exaggerates how noticeable wrinkles etc. are, so retouching will more closely match the experience of standing before the person.
Furthermore, when talking to some who want to see zero retouching, I get the feeling that they also cringe at us using a softbox to light our subject with pleasing light. Thus, in acknowledgment of the “give ‘em an inch, they’ll take a mile” phenomenon, this could get ridiculous.
I think we need photos that do not lie, but feel also that this does not mean that the only thing a photographer is allowed to do is push the button. In my estimation, some are beginning to push this issue too far.
Take a look at my people portfolio.
aircraft, airplane, automobile, aviation, Color Efex Pro, history, Lightroom, Nik, Nik Software, OAHS, Oregon, Oregon Aviation Historical Society, photo, photograph, photography, Photoshop, plane, Post processing, style, WAAAM, Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum
One of the main things anyone interested in photography as a business hears is to find your style. This is something very difficult to do, because creative people can be scared to have all their images look stylistically similar. So for a long time I struggled with how to do that.
The process started with going to an ASMP event called Portfolio Perfect. I paid close attention to the response of my reviewer. He certainly had a bigger response to my edgy, in your face, exaggerated detail, and exaggerated perspective photos. He even made mention that the other photos I showed him look like they were done by someone else.
Next, I looked at what I like. I certainly do tend to like photos with that edgy, larger than life Hollywood movie hero look.
Finally, I looked at what other photographers I know, shooting in the same areas and genres are doing. I looked at what I like about their images, what others like about their images, and finally what I don’t like about their images.
Finally, I decided on a style that would define most of what I do. Not every photo I shoot fits this mold, but the majority does. This style starts by shooting in tight to my subjects with a wide angle lens when possible. I am also drawn to dramatic skies and backlighting as part of this style.
In post processing I will tend towards a wide dynamic range as well as high local contrast, while still maintaining a photographic look.
To this end, in Lightroom I developed two presets for my work. Both have high contrast, the highlights are brought down to around -80 and shadows up to around +80. Clarity is high with a setting around +40 on one preset and +60 on the other. The big difference between the two presets is saturation levels, one is very desaturated and the other I increased Vibrance to +30, with the high contrast that makes the colors pop. I prefer to use the low saturation preset with things like military vehicles or silver vehicles where I want to minimize color contamination and use the vibrant preset for everything else.
When desired this style can be further augmented in Photoshop and Color Efex Pro4. One way I do this is apply a glow to most of the photo, but Tonal Contrast to my subject.
This blog entry is going to be pretty short, because for the bulk of the technique here I’ll refer to Corey Barker’s article in the November 2013 Photoshop User (follow the link if you’d like to join NAPP and get the article.)
With this image I was trying to increase my abilities with the 3D text and trying to realistically blend it into an image. To do so I started with this image of the 1932 Waco UBA on grass, you can see this plane in person at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. I felt that the mixed field of grass and clover would provide greater challenge in making it appear as if the text was sitting on the field.
The making of the 3D text went smoother and faster this time. My improving familiarity with the process made things move much faster, but the render still took a long time. I was doing this on a full res image, however. If you do it on a smaller image, I’m sure it will go much faster.
The real fun came after the render was complete. I created a layer mask on the 3D layer, then lowered the opacity of the layer a little to help me see the grass and clover under the text and shadow. Then with a very small brush with about 80% hardness, I painted on the mask in black over blades of grass and pieces of clover that I felt would be sticking up from the shadow into the light. Also I painted on the mask over grass and clover I felt would be sticking up in front of the letters. In reality, the clover was shorter in the area the text now rests vs. where the plane sits.
Previously I discussed building a lifestyle photography portfolio. So this past month I contacted the fiancé of the young woman I previously photographed cooking dinner and asking him if he’d be willing to ride his bicycle back and forth across one of Oregon’s many covered bridges at either sunrise or sunset for me. I was quite surprised when he said sunrise would work better for him, although morning does tend to work better photographically. First of all, despite the light being very similar, it’s usually a little better in the morning and secondly there’s usually less traffic to put up with on the roads, etc.
So we met at Gilkey Bridge at 6:00am. I had looked at the maps and tried to evaluate which one of the bridges near Scio would look best at sunrise. I eliminated Shimanek Bridge from the considerations because of the limited vantage points available that don’t place you squarely on a farmer’s land. This is something I wouldn’t do without permission.
We started the shoot with some backlit portraits. I was going for a casual look with some flare. When post processing I accentuated the flare a bit using the new circle filter in Lightroom. I centered it on the brightest part of the flare, inverted the mast to affect the center of the filter more. Then I increased the exposure a bit, reduced the highlights a tiny amount, reduced the clarity and saturation a bit, and finally added a tiny bit of yellow. Then in Color Efex Pro4 I applied the Glamour Glow filter to finish enhancing this look.
Then, when the sun had gotten slightly higher in the sky, we began with the real work of the shoot; photographing him riding back and forth across the bridge. I worked it from many angles, using fill flash in a soft box with ½ cut CTO on the backlit images. The one limitation that frustrated me a bit was where the ground sloped away to the river did limit me from some of the angles I would have liked to have shot. There just wasn’t any way to actually stand in those locations.
Anyhow, overall I am very pleased with the results. Take a look at my portrait portfolio.
On August 23 and 24, 2013 I attended the Airshow of the Cascades in Madras, Oregon. To give you some idea of how much fun this was, let me start by telling you the only negatives to the experience. We’re sitting out in the sun a lot, so obviously one needs to wear sunscreen. We figured that it wouldn’t last all day, so my dad started to reapply and the spray bottle broke. We were unable to get anymore sunscreen out of the bottle, so the part of my face the sun hit from about 2:30 until the end of the show got a bit burnt. The other negative was when I was sitting my camera down on its lens hood to rest, some tiny little wasp decided the hand grip to my camera was a good spot to rest. Thus, when I went to pick it up to take a shot I got stung on my ring finger. Fortunately, the poison of this type of wasp is either less effective or there was less compared to a honey bee and the pain subsided in about ten minutes.
We left our house in Keizer, OR around 10:00am on Friday and drove up I5 to 212 and then got 26 to go the rest of the way. This made for a pretty good start to our day, 26 is a picturesque drive going through Government Camp and offering fantastic views of Mt. Hood. This also coincided with the Hood to Coast relay race, so we were able to witness some of this big event on our way.
We arrived in Madras around 1:30, giving us some time to relax in front of the TV in our hotel room before grabbing a bit to eat and being at the airport at 4:00pm when the gates opened. I hadn’t been to an airshow in a long time and had never been to one held around the sunset hours. It was really cool to see the performances in the nice light of sunset. It did get a bit dark for aviation photography, but with a little of Lightroom’s noise reduction, it all turned out alright. The show concluded with some fireworks. I’m not a big fan of fireworks, but had always wanted to photograph them. This opportunity led me to discover that what I wanted to do with fireworks was surprisingly easy. I made a shot about ½ hour before the fireworks started to capture some color in the scene to serve as my background. Then when the fireworks started I used bulb mode to capture several bursts. In post, I processed both images separately for good color in Lightroom and then loaded them into Photoshop as layers in one image. I put the fireworks burst shot on top and changed the blend mode of the layer to lighten, this dropped everything out but the fireworks themselves. I had moved the camera a bit in between so I applied free transform to the fireworks layer to tweak it to where it lined up to where it should be. Then I merged the layers down and applied a Color Efex Pro4 Glamour Glow.
Saturday was an early morning to get there when the gates opened. This was fantastic for static and taxi shots in the morning light and limited people wondering in and out of the shots. I also met some of the photographers I knew from the Pacific Northwest Aviation Photographers group on Facebook and it’s always nice to meet these folks in person rather than just on Facebook (in the video you can see me shaking hands with one of these gentlemen.) Saturday was an intense day of shooting culminating in a wonderful photographic event the “Wall of Fire” pass of Tillamook Air Museum’s B17 “Chuckie.”
The result of all this has been a group of photographs that I stare at more than I’ve stared at my photos in quite awhile.
And of course the one I stare at the most, that “Wall of Fire” pass by “Chuckie.”