Archive for the ‘Photoshop’ Category

Photographing Incense Smoke Tutorial – Part 3 – Rainbow Smoke

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Here is the final installment of the ‘Photographing Incense Smoke’ tutorial series.  To see how to actually photograph the smoke, see Part 1 or if you want to see the single color post processing technique, see Part 2. This one is just a slight departure from Part 2, where we post processed the smoke to give it some great color.  Well, in this one, we’re going to make the smoke multi-colored.

First, load up your smoke picture into photoshop and adjust the brightness, if you need to, as described in Part 2.

Load up your photo

Load up your photo

Simply select Layer>New Fill Layer>Gradient.

New Gradient Fill Layer

New Gradient Fill Layer

In the New Layer dialog, in the mode drop down, select Color and click Ok.

Color Mode

Color Mode

In the Gradient Editor dialog, select the Gradient Preset that you like and click Ok.

Select the Gradient Pattern

Select the Gradient Pattern

That’s it!  There’s nothing to it.  Enjoy!

There ya go!

There ya go!

The Final Product

The Final Product

Photographing Incense Smoke Tutorial – Part 2 – Post Processing

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

This is part 2 of the tutorial on photographing incense smoke.  Part 1 covered photographing the smoke. (Here is part 1)  In this portion of the tutorial, we will start the topic of post processing.  For almost all my photography, I post process in Adobe Lightroom, however, incense smoke is an exception.  For smoke, I use Photoshop.  The example screens shown here are from Photoshop CS5.5, although it should work at least back to CS4.  (For those of you who are using Photoshop Elements, I haven’t tried it, but I think it can be done.  In the next couple of weeks, I’ll attempt it and post a tutorial for that if it can be done.)

To start, open your smoke photo in photoshop.

Open in Photoshop

Open in Photoshop

After opening your smoke picture in Photoshop, the first thing to do is to duplicate the background layer.  This basically just gives you and easy place to come back to in case something goes haywire.

Duplicate Background Layer

Duplicate Background Layer

Next, we want to adjust the brightness of the smoke to make it pop out from the background a bit more.  I do this with Levels.  Create a new adjustments layer  by selecting Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels.

Adjust the levels

Adjust the levels

Drag the white arrow directly under the histogram to the left to brighten the image.  Be careful not to drag it too far as you want the background to remain solid black.

Adjust the levels

Adjust the levels

For the next step, you need to decide what kind of smoke picture you want, black background or white background.  If you want a black back ground, congratulations!  You’re there, you can skip this step.  If you want a white background, select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Invert.  This will invert the color palete and your black background will turn white.  Your smoke will also change color, but don’t worry, we’re going to set the color up in the next step.

Invert

Invert

(I wanted to work on a black background so I didn’t invert, but here is what it would look like if I had.)

To change the smoke color, select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation.

New Adjusment Layer - Hue/Saturation

New Adjusment Layer - Hue/Saturation

(Note that the screen shot above has the Adjustment Layer selected.  This is an error.  You need to select the background copy layer underneath it, as in the next screen shot.)

Click the Colorize box in the lower right.  Now, adjust the sliders to get a color and saturation level that you like.

Change the Smoke Color

Change the Smoke Color

And here’s what you end up with.

Incense Smoke

Incense Smoke

Well that’s it!  It’s really a pretty simple process in Photoshop.  Next time, I’ll show you how to make the smoke multiple colors instead of a single one.

Rainbow Smoke

Rainbow Smoke

Enjoy!!

Photographing Incense Smoke Tutorial – Part 1 – Capture

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Incense smoke can be one of the neatest subjects to photograph, especially when you toss in a little ‘photoshop magic’ to liven it up.  In this little tutorial, I’ll show you the approach I used (there are others) to shooting incense as well as finishing it up in photoshop.
The most important thing to understand about photographing smoke is proper lighting.  I have talked to numerous people who try and fail at photographing incense because they try to use the on camera flash, but you can’t get these shots with light from the front.  The light MUST come in from the side!  I use a desk lamp on one side and a flash on the other.  (see picture).  Now you might think that this is all for lighting the smoke, but NO!  Only the flash is for the smoke.  The lamp simply lights the smoke enough to allow your camera’s autofocus function to focus on the smoke.
The Setup

The Setup

I set the flash on about half power (simply to decrease recycle time) and zoom it in as far as it will go.  Remember, you are just trying to light the incense, not a whole scene.  I also think it’s a good idea to put a snoot on the flash to really pinpoint the light.

You can improvise a gobo or a snoot with a rubber band and either two small black cards or a large sheet of black construction paper.  With the cards, simply place a piece on each side of the flash (front to eliminate lens flare, on the back to keep the background dark) and attach them to the flash with the rubber band.  With the paper, simply roll it around the flash and attach with a rubber band for the same effect.  For this shoot, I didn’t even use black cards.  I had to laminate passes laying around that worked great.

Improvised Snoot

Improvised Snoot

 

Now, make sure you have some sort of dark background.  I use a black poster fold out.  They are cheap and readily available at hobby stores and probably wal-mart.  It’s like what a kid would use for a science fair display.  You could also use a piece of black cloth.  Position your incense at least a foot and a half in front of your black background.  If you place it to close, you will end up lighting it and the effect of the smoke won’t be as nice.

I use very cheap wireless flash triggers for my flash, but you can use a cable to.  I set the shutter speed to  just under the flash sync speed of the camera.  The reason I go just under is that every once and a while the wireless takes a split second longer to cause the flash to fire, so the lower speed is just insurance.  I usually shoot these at ISO 200 anywhere from f8 – f11.

Ok…incense.  You want a good quality incense.  Not because it’s going to make a difference in the photograph, but you have to smell this stuff up close, so find something you like.  Light the incense and turn the room light off.  Also, no fans, and you may need to turn off the A/C , depending on the vent location.

With the desk lamp on, you should be able to hand hold and autofocus.  (I used to use a tripod, but found it a bit limiting.)  Use the single autofocus point in the center.  If you have problems getting the autofocus to work, you can cheat a little and focus on the tip of the incense then recompose on the incense.

Now just watch for neat patterns to pop up in the incense.  If there is no air movement, the patterns will be straight and boring.  Simply lightly wave your hand or gently blow in the direction of the incense and you should get something interesting.  Take tons of shots and don’t be disappointed if they aren’t all in perfect focus.  Focusing on smoke is a tricky process.

You will end up with something like this:

 

Smoke picture before post processing

Smoke picture before post processing

That’s it for capturing the shot.  Next we have to run it through some post processing which I’ll cover next time.  Enjoy!

More incense smoke photography

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I decided to play with one of my favorite shooting subjects tonight:  incense smoke.  I tried some new techniques and I like what I am getting.  A bit more experimenting and I may put out a little tutorial if anyone is curious.  BTW, all these were shot with a Canon T2i with an 85mm f1.8 lens

Smoke picture processed in Lightroom and Photoshop

Smoke picture processed in Lightroom and Photoshop

The Overlook

The Overlook

Low Tone Incense Smoke

Low Tone Incense Smoke

The Ring

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Trying out Silver Efex Pro 2

Ring In Book

Ring In Book

Down On The Farm

Saturday, January 16th, 2010


Mental Waves

Mental Waves



The Fence Line

Fence Line



Giving In

Giving In



Reflections

Reflections



The Barb

Barb



Down on the Farm

Down On The Farm


The Ring In The Book – The Heart Of The Matter

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Here’s an interesting experiment that I decided to try.

Ring In Book

Ring In Book - Blue Tint

I had seen this done before, but I discovered that with some adjusting of the position of the light, you could not only get the heart in the ring shadow but a heart in the larger light. This photo and the one that follows have almost no post processing done with the exception of a crop and some color tone, but the heart light is right out of the camera. I used a large hand held work light that you can get at any hardware store, like Home Depot. The light was shined almost directly behind the ring at a relatively high angle. The camera was stopped down 2 full stops to black out the areas outside the heart.

Ring In Book

Ring In Book - Orange Tint

 


This one is the same photo as above, but I took it into photoshop and added the flare on the crown of the ring. Not sure if I like it better or not, but I decided to include it for reference. What do y’all think?

Ring In Book

Ring In Book - Orange Tint with Flare

 

More Creative Edits of Incense Smoke

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Trying to take my incense smoke photography to the next level.



Tiny Dancer

Tiny Dancer





Incense Smoke

Plastic Smoke





swish

Swirl


Synapse Firing

Thursday, December 24th, 2009



Synapse Firing - 199/365 - 23 December 2009

Synapse Firing


Down with the Titanic and a Bowl Full of Malas

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Yet another couple of shots from Project 365.


Down with the Titanic - 93/365 - 8 September 2009

Down with the Titanic

Bowl full of malas - 94-365 - 9 September 2009

Bowl Full of Malas

 

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