Posts Tagged ‘Photoshop’

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 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


Warhol Bronc

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

I’ve been in kind of a tie dyed, hippie mood of late so here is another psychedelic creation.  The bronc is actually a photograph of a black, iron sculpture that hangs on my wall.  The rest is the magic of photoshop.

Warhol Bronc - 79/365 - 26 August 2009

Warhol Bronc

 

Water splash from nothing

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

I’ve been wanting to photograph water droplets and the like for a while but haven’t had much success.  Today, I was perusing the internet and playing with photoshop and found out how to make a water splash from scratch.  Here is my third attempt.  Considering I just started this an hour or so ago, I think it looks pretty realistic.  With practice, I think I can make it look better.  The first photo is the splash that was created in photoshop (No outside photos).  The second is the same picture with a strawberry (real photograph) added in so it looks like something is actually moving the water.

water

Fabricated water splash

FInal

Fabricated water splash with real strawberry


Maybe sometime I’ll post a ‘how to’ on this, but it would take me a while to type it out and get screen captures so, not today.

Is Photoshop cheating?

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Anyone who checks in here on a regular basis knows that I’m into photography.? I love to take pictures and I love to process pictures.? To process, I use Photoshop Elements 6 and I have a blast with it.? I think it often allows me to produce something more interesting or beautiful than I was able to take with my camera.

Since I have been on flickr.com and some other photography web sites, there is always a group who will deem the use of Photo editing software as somehow ‘cheating’.? You get either the ‘what you’re making isn’t what the camera saw.? It’s not true photography.’ or the ever popular ‘A good photographer would never need to use Photoshop.’? Then you have those who think it’s cheating in some cases but not in others.? ‘I just use it to crop the photo, but I never adjust? anything else’, or ‘I use it only to crop and maybe adjust the saturation or to lighten or darken here and there, but I never introduce something that wasn’t there before.’? I’ve sat and listened to these arguments for years, and quietly thought they were pretty silly, but? have decided to finally decided to weigh in on this publicly.

First let me say that I am not a ‘great photographer’, by any stretch of the imagination.? You have probably seen my pix up here on occasion and, in general, there is nothing staggering there. ? I occasionally get some decent shots and I can guarantee you that not one of them has seen the light of day without going through Photoshop first.

There seem to be two trains of thought about what a photographer is trying to accomplish.? Some consider it it a historical practice. They are trying to capture a moment in time exactly as it was.? Others consider it art, as they are trying to create something that evokes an emotion.? Let’s address the historical practice first.? Unfortunately, you are never going to capture a moment in time EXACTLY as it was.? With photography, you are still setting the camera and capturing within the range of settings that you have applied.? You control the focus, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, iso, etc..? The closest you cold come to this would be to use an old instamatic or Poloroid where you can’t set any of this stuff.? Oddly, I? don’t think most of the people in this article are shooting 110 film stuff.

You are also capturing within the range of the sensitivity that is built in to the camera.? Some cameras have stronger blues, or reds, etc.? The blue you get for that sky may not be the exact blue that was there.? One digital sensor doesn’t perform exactly like another.? Even the old instamatic 110 cameras are effected by the glass that was used.? You just can’t capture reality verbatim and put it in a frame.

So this leaves art.? We are trying to create something that conveys emotion.? This being the case, I don’t understand why it matters if you did it with a camera by itself or a camera and some software.? I think photo editing? software is just another part of the process of creating the art.? Before digital, was processing in the darkroom cheating?? Of course not.? It was just part of the work flow.? Photoshop really is our digital darkroom, albeit on steroids. Still it’s just another tool.

“That’s all well and good.? It’s ok for tweaking, but I would never use Photoshop to create something that’s not there.? That’s just not right.”

Hmmm…ever use a flash?? Why?? A flash adds light to the scene that before the flash, just wasn’t there. So if we are going to say that using photo editing software is cheating because it allows us to add something that isn’t there, then I guess the flash would have to go to.

“But photoshop does everything for you.? It means that anyone can just make something cool.”

First off all, you have obviously never used Photoshop.? It is not the most intuitive program in the world and if you sit someone down in front of it for the first time, they are going to create crap, not stunning images. It’s a tool that requires knowledge of it’s use to be successful.? Second, if it were that easy for someone to sit down and get beautiful results, would that be a bad thing?? I really feel everyone has it in them to create something beautiful.? It’s about what is inside.? Many people have just found no way to bring what’s inside, outside.? If there were such a piece of code that could do that, I say, ‘Great.”

The point here is we are trying to create art in a visual form.? Whether we do it with an instamatic and a scanner or a D40 or with Photoshop, it’s all about creating something that evokes emotion.? Whatever you need/want to do that, doesn’t matter.? What matters is that you do it.? We live in an age that allows us a certain set of tools.? 30 years ago, the tools were different but the purpose was the same.? 30 years from now, I’m sure the tools will be different, but the purpose will still be the same.

Would “On The Road” be any less of a great novel if it were written on a computer with a word processor than written on pen and paper?

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