Post-Processing Nightmare (Part 2 of 2)

22 11 2009

Thanks for the kind words on the behind-the-scenes video of Nightmare.  This is part 2 of the article and will focus on how I did the post processing for the image.  The video tutorial is fairly long (15min) but covers a host of different techniques during the process such as;

  • Compositing an image from layers
  • Using high contrast b@w layers to create an edgy look to your image
  • Creating dusty light beams
  • Using textures in your images to create a gritty look (and where you can access over 3,000 free textures)
  • Using curves for local adjustments

I hope you enjoy this tutorial on Post Processing Nightmare.


If you find it useful, be sure to let me know… I appreciate your feedback.




The Making Of Nightmare (part 1 of 2)

21 11 2009

It’s been a while since I have posted a video, so I thought I would give you a double-header.  This is the first of two videos that show how I made an image called Nightmare.  This video is part 1 which takes you behind the scenes when we did the shoot.  It was a lot of fun, there was a group of about 8 of us and I think everyone really enjoyed the location and the shoot.  When you are shooting with a good group it really makes photography fun.  We were also lucky enough to have a gorgeous and talented model (thank you Mandy) who modeled for us.

This shot is something different for me in a few different ways.

  1. It combines off-camera flash with light painting.  I don’t normally do much off-camera flash, but I’m keen to start doing more after Oat and Nelson’s wonderful off-camera flash workshop.
  2. It is a shot of a person… I normally have a bit of a mantra of not shooting anything that talks or shits.  Hence the fascination with seascapes, landscapes and urban shots.  In this case I do feature the beautiful Mandy.
  3. This shot was totally pre-visualised for about 3 months, and I have set out to create it.  I planned everything about the shot from the pools of light to the type of clothes that Mandy had on.  I wanted to see if I had the technique to accurately re-create my vision…. and I have to say I was very happy with the results.

What is this shot about?

Nightmare is about a chick who has been out for a wild night of partying finding herself in the wee hours of the morning in one god-awful freaky place.  Her clothes are in disarray, her makup is smudged over face and I wanted to create a response in the viewer of “what the hell happened to her…. what is she doing in this freaky place”?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video…. I will try to post part II tomorrow which will show the post processing including some pretty cool techniques.

This video was produced in High Definition, so I’m not going to embed it inline with the blog but send you over to Vimeo where you can enjoy it in all it’s HD splendor.


Sculpture By The Sea…By Night

9 11 2009

Well this is the second year that I have stayed away from Sculpture By the Sea during pre-dawn or daylight hours…. It’s like Pitt Street for Photographers… has been for a few years now.

But at night…  all the people go except for the occasional couple that stroll by with torches.  You have plenty of space and time to just experiment and play.

Here’s a couple of shots from this years exhibition.

Blue Face at night

This was probably my favorite shot from the two nights that I went out shooting.  Funnily enough it was the last shot of the night.  I’d seen this face when I was browsing through some of the other photos of the exhibition, and while none of the other images of the sculpture grabbed me, the face itself did.  I figured it would have possibilities before I even saw it, so it was on my “must shoot” list for the night.  It really helps to do your research, otherwise I could have easily missed it.  As it was I had to ask the security guards where to find this sculpture.

OK, a bit of info on how I made this shot.  The first thing is that I am previsualising my light paintings much better these days.  When I looked at the sculpture here’s what I was thinking….

  • Cool face…  I could some cool things with highlights and shadows on the face
  • Love the horizon and water in the background
  • The bushes create a nice transition against the sea… want to emphasize them
  • The stars and the clouds are very cool… I want to get lots of stars and no star trails and try to get some of the little puffs of clouds to blur in the sky.
  • I liked the way the sculpture cut above the horizon and kind of made a nice transition between the land and the heavens… I wanted to emphasise this as well.
  • As I was looking at this I thought it would look cool if the face was kind of emerging out of a blue-light fog.

So that was what was going on in my head… so here’s how I set about executing it.

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 10.11.35 PM

(You might want to click on the image above to see it full size)

I started off with my heaven shot… my background.  Set my camera to ISO3200 and shot 30sec @ f5.6  This gives me heaps of bright stars due to the high ISO and no star trails due to the 30sec exposure (lucky I’m shooting with a Nikon)… Canon would probably give me a shit-load of noise…. OK… couldn’t resist that jibe… seriously though, the D700 is awesome at this high an ISO.

Then I started my first white light run on the face with the fluoro light.  Aftger that I saw clouds coming over, so I redid my heaven shot.  The the next two images were more light painting on the face from different angles.  Once I felt I had the face captured from the right angles, I light painted the bushes in the background.  I then did two frames of the face in blue light (using cold cathodes).  This was to give me some blue light on the face from the blue fog.  I then thought that perhaps I might light up the face red to see what it looked like in contrasting colours emerging from the blue fog…. however when I previewed it in Photoshop I didn’t really like it, so I didn’t use the red images.

The final image is of the blue “fog” that I created with Electro-luminesent wire.  This stuff is wicked.  It creates cool water/fog effects.

Then I just started working the blending in Photoshop. The trickiest part was making an accurate mask around the sculpture that was sticking up in the sky.  I used a contrast mask for that (see my cool shit tutorial series for video on how to do that).

Here’s a couple of my other shots from Sculpture By the Sea.

horse sculpture

I loved the look of this horse from the moment I saw it.  It had “light painting” written all over it.  I loved the way it overlooked the water.  I used contrasting colours to really try to highlight the insides of the horse.

This last shot was from my first night’s shoot.  I just wanted to do something a bit abstract and different with it, so I threw the sky into almost total blackness and focused on abstracting the sculpture and the surroundings.

Sculpture by sea 1

For those that want to learn this type of photography see my Light Painting Workshop Page.  Still a few spots left for the Nov 09 workshop.