How can something as simple a single photograph take so much work?
You ever ask yourself that? No? I didn’t think so. But…once you start getting really creative with your images, there’s work involved. More than just the simple click of a shutter button. You see, I had a vision, as I do with all of my self portraits. I knew what I wanted the final image to look like.
So, I did what I do best. Improvised. I knew I wanted the dark, moody sky. And I wanted the rich texture of the old building. That’s pretty easy. But of course, I wanted the focus to be on me. I mean, look at me. I know right? Well, if you understand how a camera sees light, you’ll know that getting all that detail in one image isn’t possible. This is my final image.
Let’s talk about how I got there. I chose to do a 3 shot HDR. HDR = High Dynamic Range. I used the same basic technique for my most recent Selfy Sunday project. Anything and everything you need to know about HDR can be found at Stuck In Customs. The site belongs to Trey Ratcliff. He’s an HDR genius. Yes. Genius!
Here are my 3 bracketed shots. Exposures were taken in this order +/-0EV, -2EV, +2EV.
So basically, [for you lazies that don’t want to read] the first image was a normal exposure, second image was underexposed by 2 stops, and the 3rd image was overexposed by 2 stops.
The images were exported from Lightroom, directly into Photomatix Pro. After some tweaking, here is the image I imported into Photoshop.
Once inside Photoshop, I did quite a bit of work. The first thing I did, was grab the Lasso Tool, and select myself from the first image posted above. Then, I pasted it directly on top of this image, and set the mode to Overlay. Lots of dodge and burn to the sky and building. Also, lots of brush on color tweaking. Especially to the building.
Tip: Use a Wacom Tablet
If you are serious about editing, a Wacom tablet is a MUST! A must! Would you ever attempt a drawing with a piece of charcoal? An oil painting with a 4” house brush? Ummm…NO! So why do you keep trying to draw, color, edit and correct tiny details with a computer mouse? Stop it!
Finally, I used 3…or 4? [don’t judge me] different actions at low opacities to achieve the final color of the image. A couple of them were vintage-y, and the others had heavy yellow, green and purpleish colors in them. Then, I threw it all in a blender, mixed it up and dran… Wait. Sorry, that’s another story.
So, here’s a before and after for comparison. I’m using the normal exposure as the before, because that’s what most people should expect from a single exposure under these lighting conditions.
Is the process extreme? Of course it is. Come on, you don’t dress like me and go for average. But, does it have to be this extreme? Of course not. You only go as far as you want to go.
Have you ever wanted to know more about Photoshop? What about HDR? Is there anything I can help you with?