Archive | August, 2011

Music is in the Air

26 Aug

I love music. I have been known to search for bands’ tour schedules and fly across the country to see them play for one night. This year, a group of my friends and me went to Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, AL, because I had discovered that one of my favorite musicians, Xavier Rudd, was playing there. We ended up seeing A TON of amazing music. I am currently plotting my next adventure. I want to see Robert Randolph or The Shins. Anyone really. Sometimes at concerts that I am attending just for myself (and not as an official photographer), I like to play around with different camera formats, or just bring my point and shoot and click gaily away. Below are a couple shots I thought were cool.

CocoRosie – point and shoot

Langerado Music Festival – 35mm Nikon F4

Langerado Music Festival – 35mm Nikon F4

Langerado Music Festival – 35mm Nikon F4


Tutorial: Eva and Blackbird

14 Aug

This is a quick explanation of my process to create this photo. If you are not familiar with Photoshop layers, selection tools, and filters, it will be a bit difficult to follow, as I do not explain in detail all of the actions I used. An intermediate user who is familiar with Photoshop tools will find this a challenge, but simple enough to follow. An advanced user won’t even bother to read this, as they should already know the general idea of how I created this composite.

1. I started with the photo of Eva and a photo of the blackbird. When I was searching for a photo of the blackbird, I made sure its leg positioning and body positioning would make sense in the photo with Eva.I used the photo of Eva as the original layer, and then went to the photo of the bird and selected the blackbird using the pen tool. I feathered the selection by 1 pixel, then copied the selection to a separate layer on top of the original blackbird photo. I used the lasso tool to select all of the tiny details, hairs and feathers of the bird, then copied that layer on top of the blackbird selection layer. I then used the eraser on that layer to clean it up. This is a time-consuming process; if you want it to be perfect you should spend the majority of your time on this selection. Selection techniques vary, but I like to use the pen tool. Try your hand at magnetic lasso, lasso, etc. There are even ways to use the color channels to make a selection. I will not get into that, as it could be an entire tutorial on its own. Merge the bird selection and feather layers, but leave the original photo as the background.

2. Next I dragged the bird onto the photo of Eva. You may need to resize the bird in order to scale it properly. Use the shift key to maintain the dimensions of the bird, otherwise it will appear skewed and thus, AMATEUR. I positioned the bird over her hand, and made sure the legs aligned with her fingers. I had to use the transform tools to get the bird’s feet to appear wrapped around her hand. This is in the Edit>Transform menu. Also, I used the Liquify filter to nudge the feet and get them perfect. This is in the Filters>Liquify. Use the Smudge Tool under the Liquify filter in this instance, although this is a powerful filter and can be used in a variety of situations. Again, the Liquify filter is a tutorial on its own.

3. The layers are still separate at this point. I burned Eva’s fingers under the bird to give the appearance of shadow, so it looks like it’s really there. Everything casts a shadow. VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember when compositing. Many a Photoshop fumble has been made with the failure to give things shadows. Also, I used the dodge tool to lighten up the bird, so that the lighting on the bird and Eva was about the same. Try to look at the photo as a whole and make sure the lighting matches. This is key in making the composite blend and look natural.

4. Next I adjusted the color of the bird. The original photo of the bird had a very warm tint, with gold in the highlights. I used the Adjust menu to lower the saturation and then used the color balance to bring some more blue into the bird, until the blacks and highlights of the bird matched the blacks and highlights of Eva.

5. You can add a Photo Filter to warm it up or cool it down and further bind the composite together. Also, adjusting color, saturation and hue on the whole photo helps to blend it. Use your own judgment and preferences to adjust color on the entire photo.

And that’s it. Pretty simple. This process may take a few hours, because there is a lot of precision work involved in the selection.

Blackbird Photos

6 Aug

Here are the first set of photos from the shoot with Blackbird. All are lit with a softbox from the ceiling coming directly down. Key is an umbrella strobe camera right and forward. Fill is umbrella from left. I also lit the back wall to eliminate harsh shadows. This is a version of Rembrandt lighting style. In post process I added brush strokes to give the impression of an old Victorian-era oil painting.

Carey Hinrichs

Sierra Dawn

Eva Hinckley

Shooting Blackbird Style

2 Aug

On Sunday I did a shoot with the amazing Blackbird, a local designer with an edgy urban meets Victorian style. Our models were AJ Flame, Sierra Dawn, Carey Hinrichs and Eva Hinckley. Carey also did hair and makeup. Eva shot video of the makeup and getting ready. We were at the studio for nearly 5 hours. I used several different lighting techniques, which pretty much varied depending on pose and style of clothing/makeup.

AJ Flame took this behind the scenes photo.

We also did the shoot for a piece I’m working on for a show in September at The Bricks in Ybor City, called “Time Warp”. The concept of the show is to reproduce masterpiece artworks by master artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, etc. I chose Gustav Klimt, who just so happens to be one of my favorite artists. I will reveal the final piece and the title of the work that I chose as inspiration on the day of the art show. It looks amazing… AJ Flame was my model and she is PERFECT. For so many reasons, but especially for this concept. Blackbird was instrumental in making this piece come together. Her vision made this work soar to a level far beyond what I could have done by myself, so I am really happy that we collaborated. The entire thing was absolutely serendipitous. Long story. Let’s just say that we were both in the right place at the EXACT right moment.

Sierra Dawn took this photo of me shooting Carey Hinrichs.

We had music playing all night, a little bit of wine and fruit and veggies just to keep everyone fairly happy and not starving out of their minds. It was an awesome shoot, with beautiful clothes and jewels all over the place! We definitely made use of all the space that was available, and everyone pitched in whenever an extra hand was needed. I love a good team who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and who love the creative process enough to do whatever it takes to make a shoot successful. Amazing photos are always the result of great teamwork, so we all deserve the beautiful shots that are going to come out of this one. I will post the results soon.