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Thread: Phil's Tutorials
July 7th, 2004 #1
Hey everybody. Jason just started a photography section. I'll be posting some tutorials and things here. Please feel free to ask any question or request a tutorial. Whatever you want.
A brief introduction.
I get lot's of comments about my photography on a somewhat daily basis nowadays. I get a lot of "Is that film?" or "That can't be digital." stuff.
I used film for a very long time, but back in 1999 I went all digital. The world of digital photography opened up so many new doors for me. I currently shoot with Canon Dslrs and probably will for a long time coming.
On to the meat.
1. Leaves and Flowers.
Starting off with something rather simple here is a picture of some leaves and flowers getting hit by some focused sunlight. The original photo was underexposed by aboot 1/2 a stop. I do this a lot in the digital world as it allows me to retain highlight detail later on. Most people would look at the original photo and not ever think of it again. That's what I want to change. I took this shot with the mindset of "I'm gonna make this photo in photoshop". I do this a lot. In fact almost all of photographs get some photoshop work. It's come to the point where it actually feels like part of the camera.
So I look at what's important to me in the photograph, and why I shot it.
Well, I liked the sunlight - which is why I composed the lightest bit in the middle of the photograph. To bring out my vision I did a few things:
-Adjusted the levels. Crushed the blacks to get rid of unwanted detail.
-Adjusted the overall saturation and then just the reds.
-Provided direct subject focus by applying a silhouette to the photograph.
Here's the before and after.
2. Digital photography gives you lot's of room to play.
Digital photography opens up new doors previously not available to the photographer. Instant review, adjustable ISO, customizable white balance, faster workflow, etc.....
This doorway was lit with two flash heads. It's a lighting test that I used for a later shoot. One flash head has a blue gel, another has a pink gel. The glow from behind the frosted glass in sunlight.
Adjusting the white balance and tint shows a unique paletter that I couldn't actually see. However, I liked it and thought it would be good for the shoot. I don't think I could have achieved this with film unless I brought the photos in to photoshop.
3. The commercial shot.
Enough toy photos. Lets get down to business. Here's a picture of an apple. I was asked to produce some shots for a personal trainers website, brochure, and business card. Boring stuff really, but a challenge nonetheless. The client used this shot for some intro thing to inspire better eating and the such. My quick setup: Two metal panels, two flash heads(shot some with three), one apple, and my 50mm f/1.4.
I knew he wanted back ground content, so nothing really needed to be jumping out at you. I decided to shoot a pretty shallow depth of field. I used on flash on a flash stand right above the apple and the other facing the metal sheet at an angle that allowed me to see it's reflection. Even thought the apple isn't really in focus the viewer can still read that it's an apple. I pushed the colors to make it more vivid and hopefully appetizing. The background was simple enough. It's just the metal sheet with the flash bouncing off of it.
4. Self portraits.
I've seemed to gain some web recognition with my self portraits. People do self portraits for many reasons. I mostly do them to experiment with mood and technique.
Here's me being lazy on the couch with a single halogen over head. I didn't want to much crap behind me in focus, so it was a pretty shallow depth of field. I believe f/2 or so. I exposed for the highlight on my head. With digital it's usually wise to expose to your bright points to retain highlight detail. Knowing I was going to push the shadows down later I didn't really care aboot what my eyes were doing. The final photo was created by adjusting the levels and white balance. A slight contrast adjustment and an even smaller saturation adjustment.
5. Simple and Sweet. Here's Michelle.
Here's an example of some light adjustments. Not to much was needed here as the original photo was pretty good. Sunlight behind her,a gian white reflecter in front, and window in the bg. This time I exposed to the mid tones. This was more aboot setting a mood then anything. I warmed up the photo a bit by adding a some orange to the highlights and mid tones. I brightened the photo up a bit and lifted the black level slightly.
This is more typical of a magazine type adjustment. If this was going to print I would spend ample time paint out the skin imperfections on the forhead and upper lip. A happy accident that happened here was the way her colar bone caught the ambient bounce from the blue sky.
6. Something for print. Here's Alex.
Here's a catalog type shot. I'm going for that casual Victoria's Secret look here. The composition is good enought to show off the bra, but this one is more aboot projected attitude. This is one of my favorite models, Alex. She nails the pose and look almost every time. Having good experienced models is probably the most important thing on payed shoot. Otherwise, you could be wasting precious time over directing new talent. With a good model, you should be able to quickly discuss what your thinking, the type of shots your going for, and the overall mood that should come across. Here, Alex did a good job.
The photo it's self is completely ambient sunlight. I adjusted my white balance in camera to go to a cooler kelvin. Took the photo into photoshop and lightened it up a bit so you could actually see her face. Changed the white balance of blues to a sort of cyan greanish color. Brought out the red in here hair with a slight brighness/contrast adjustment. Brought the shadows back down using levels. Not a major difference again, but enough to make it interesting.
7. Seventh Fall, the band photo.
Here's a group shot of the band 7th Fall. http://www.7thfall.com
This was an emergency shoot shot in near total darkness with nothing but artificail light. This is one of my specialties. I found a truck loading dock and brought my portable kit to it. I unloaded three flashes and three flash stands. I wanted softer shadows on the lead singer's face and more harsh shadows on the guys. I set up the front light stand with an umbrella and a flash so I was shooting through the umbrella. I also adjusted the output to be aboot 2 stops higher then the other flash heads. The other two flashes went on either side of the door. One with a red gel, one with blue.
Again, the top photo is completely usable, but they want to project a certain look. That's photoshop's cue. I crushed the blacks and brightened the whites. Desaturated and shifted the color to a greener tint. Altered the blue channel a bit to get some cyan out of it. Painted out imperfections. In the other photo used there was a logo on the bassist's shirt that needed to be removed. The shoot took aboot an hour with a finished product done in aboot 2 hours after the band made their selects.
8. Here's Alex again.
So as mentioned before I expose for the highlights. Another thing I'll typically do is under expose 1/2 to 1 stop. Here's Alex again lighted by one reflector. Her skin was quite red under the sun and I wanted to bring out the pink in the garment. That's two red adjustments, which probably means selecting colors via the lasso or replacing certain color ranges. In this situation it was neither as I was able to desature the whole image then adjust the contrast and black levels to bring the pink back out. I brightened and cooled the photo slightly as well. Nothing t0o major here, but the resulting photo is usable for print work.
The next two images are the one's I've recieved the most email aboot.
I was doing theme based self portaits for a bit and on this example I was going for zombie, like 28 days later. Having not seen the movie and only seeing the trailer I noticed that they were highly contrasted images with almost a bleach bypass look to them. A lot of the images used simple palettes. One or two colors at most. My setup was a single flash head focused with a small amout of card stock. This allowed me to get the light right where I wanted it. The original shot is not here, but the first photo has some saturation adjustment done to the red channel and crushed the blacks. I then decided on blue and red for my pallete. I produced a blue version of the image, then a brightened, pixelated, and blurred version for overlaying. The next image has some grain adjustment. The last step has some cracked asphalt that I converted to black and white used as a multiply layer around the eye. It was shot with the same directional light source. This gave me that zombie look I was going for.
10. The Skull.
Everybody asks aboot this one. The original photo was shot with a single flash through a small soft box in was under exposed aboot 2 stops. That's the original untouched in the first frame. I then shot the skull in the same exact location. This was important because I was shooting at a shallow depth of field. If I moved the skull or my head out of position there would be some focal plane issue that would hinder the viewer's believability. And also through off the eye socket/cheak bone alignment. I quickly comped the two different photos to see if I got what I was looking for. I then went back to the original photo and gave it some more blue/green color. Basic overlaying was done with the skull layer and portrait layer. I then did some erasing, copying, and feathered selecting. I brought out the skull's eye sockets on a new layer and desaturated them. Looking good, but the forehead needs more pop. I decided to change the overall light source to more of a spot on the forehead and right cheek. Took another feathered select from the skull layer and produced the saturated burnt yellow look.
Went back in a bit and desaturated the eye sockets and did some final touch ups. Both elements being shot with precision with the same background allowed this whole process to be completed rather quickly.
Okay, well that's what I got for now. If you read this entire thing then I definitly am impressed. It took me aboot an hour to type it all, so I'd imagine reading it would be aboot as painful.
I'll be adding more tutorials to this thread, so if you'd like to hear about a specific subject or want to see one of my other photographs torn apart, let me know.
Last edited by PhilHolland; April 8th, 2005 at 06:25 PM.
Hide this ad by registering as a memberJuly 7th, 2004 #2Registered User
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Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowww, you're blowing my mind! I always hoped for a tutorial from you in the back of my head.
July 7th, 2004 #3
July 7th, 2004 #4Registered User
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oooh oooh ooh!!! can I post too?!! huh? huh? can I? I'm so stoked this is here! ..and awesome info, Phil. Thanks. You rock! :rock:
July 7th, 2004 #5Registered User
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Thanks for giving some insight on how you work and think phil, I myself have only made moderate modifactions in photoshop on my photos so far.
I just detected the photosection and feared it had been there for a while (wich would explain why I seem to be the only one posting to the photothread in finished works lately)...
July 7th, 2004 #6
This is great. Thanks a heap Phil, I have been looking for some insight on making my digital pics nicer.
Funny, I use Photoshop everyday, but rarely use it to make my photos look nicer....
My Kickstarter Project - "Gateway: The Book of Wizards"
July 7th, 2004 #7
very informative !!
thanks for taking the time to make this
available for freelance
July 8th, 2004 #8
July 8th, 2004 #9
Sweet Phil! Thanks for posting this stuff.
July 8th, 2004 #10Registered User
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As i told you in Austin dude, always beeen a big fan of your photography...
Thanks for posting these...
July 8th, 2004 #11
Hey Phil, Awesome stuff. It was cool to meet you at the workshop, thanks for making up a tutorial, i know it takes a lot of time. It will be really heplful for a lot of us who are getting into this stuff. I'll probably have more questions / comments for you once i start getting into digital. hopefully sooner than later. anyways, great work!
July 10th, 2004 #12
do u have any tips for shooting artwork? its something thats become increasingly important for me.. Im using a digicam, a 3.1 mp Sony Cybershot P70... what can you tell me about that?
July 10th, 2004 #13
Main Loop - Shooting artwork is a tricky thing. First off in the pro realm of things Canon and Nikon make special lenses with pretty much no barrel distortion. However, that's extra money on a lens that won't get much use. I tend to shoot paintings and things straight on with a tripod at about 160mm. Usually around f/8. I like to use a top down light source hitting around 30 degrees. You can avoid glare on glossy mediums that way. You can use hot lights for artwork most of the time, but oil paintings don't like that too much. In situations where the artwork is light/temperature sensitive I use two to three strobes sometimes an umbrella or light box to soften the light a bit.
In your situation find a good tripod or study surface, make sure your camera is between f/8 and f/16, and make sure your light source is hitting the artwork at a good angle and lighting it evenly.
Hope that helps.