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Entries in photography (3)

Monday
Jan142013

Pulling Beyond Reality

Movies are magic to me.

The way I think about grading comes from masking adjustment layers in photoshop for the last few years. I'm not very technical. I don't feel like I'm into the numbers enough. I've tried to field questions I get about equipment and "how fast" certain configurations might be. I read a lot and try to keep up on things, but that's not why I'm in this. There are a lot of people that understand data handling and the technology a lot better than me. I'm not sure why I've been so fortunate to get to do this for a living or work on the things I've worked on. But I love that I get to because there's something to it that always excites me when I nail a shot. Theres a trillion different ways you could nudge the color and light around, but for whatever reason its that particular combination that just hits right and you know its finished! There's nothing else to do to it accept capture that look through the rest of the scene.

And then there's all the work that's gone into it beforehand to make it so that one particular moment in time is there in front of me! I guess I'm inadequate at putting it in the right words so it'll make sense. Here are a few before and after stills that detail the transformation I'm referring to. 

 

I love this one from the Fruit Ninja video.


 This is still one of my favorites!

 


 

This is an old project from winter 2011. I ran across the stills and remembered how excited I was with some of the things that were now possible with Davinci Resolve. All my work prior to this was in FCP7, color, and Photoshop. Its not perfect but I thought it worth sharing and ended up putting this post together. There were mountains in the far background behind the trees in full sun that needed balancing. I evened things out and brought back a lot of the detail from the shadows in the foreground. 

The shade keeps colors less vibrant than they ought to be for this look.

Wednesday
Mar142012

Luminance First

Have you ever been blown away by the cinematography in old movies?

I have.


We're so used to little color screens on everything it just seems natural, but back then, what you saw through the camera wasn't what the movie would look like. You saw color. There weren't any electronics. You were looking through a series of mirrors and through the lens at the people on set in front of you. Cinematographers had to translate in their head what sucking the color out would do to the image... and they were GOOD at it!

They had to think in terms of luminance. 

How to use luminance to sculpt your images

before

after

This is a good example of what I'm talking about. The raw image is pretty flat and uninteresting. But switching to black and white to work with luminance saved it.

I worked with eye first.


That's not good advice. Its just where I like to start because its usually my focal point and I always find it most interesting. I painted in light highlighting the bright points in the iris all the way around the pupils. the left eye is out of focus so I needed to mirror that with my brush strokes. If its blurry, use bigger brushes.

With that same light I went ahead and highlighted the highs in his features beginning to sculpt the face more. Then I countered that with the shadows painting darkness in around the iris and back out to the rest of the face. I finished with a few separate passes on the image as a whole to direct the light subtly across the eyes to add some feeling.

 

By this time I was getting it where I wanted it, but I decided to add the color back in.

I liked it. I compared the two a few times and yeah, I liked it.

With just a quick adjustment to tweak the color, it was done.

When I first started doing this, I'd spend all my time shifting the color around and maybe ten seconds on a quick contrast tweak at the end. More and more I find that working to get the lighting right first makes all the difference. Your eye can be fooled by color contrast and saturation. Taking it back to black and white helps you focus on what you're actually doing. Then, any color work just adds to that. This isn't a hard and fast rule, just a suggestion. So next time you've got something that's just not getting there, consider switching to black and white!

 

Wednesday
Feb292012

Josh and Keri's Engagement Photos

 

 

I had the chance to borrow some L-series glass from my friend Devin Graham. If you haven't seen his rope swing video you should:

The amazing thing about DSLR's is the difference a lens makes. Its basically like grabbing a whole new camera. My kit lens that came with my 7D is the same lens that went through the accident with me. When I mention the accident I'm talking about this one:

 

I barely made it out of that one. My camera was in the fiberglass reinforced bowling case I built for it:

It did a good job of holding up through the roll over. Only the zipper had to be replaced. My camera seemed to be fine, but ever since then the lens has had some image stabilization issues and sometimes the zoom and focus lock up. Kinda dumb, but the chance to borrow some real glass was a wonderful experience. We hurried around Provo from about 4 in the afternoon to sundown an hour and a half later. 

Working on a wacom tablet makes photo grading so astronomically better than anything I've ever done with a mouse. I'm in love, but so are these two. Hopefully I've captured their essence a little bit. Lots of fun. Here are some before and after pictures to show off the might and power of adjustment layers.