Category Archives: photoshop

Sign of Life

Sarah here… I promise, we’re not dead! We’ve just been swamped. I stole a little time this weekend for an impromptu photoshoot and Photoshopping, though, which was very soothing.

I fought with speedlights for a while but just wasn’t getting the look I wanted, so I eventually scrapped the flash and used window light instead. Filtered through the blinds, it was very soft and smooth light, just like I’d been hoping for. I still want to master the tricks of artificial light, but sometimes you just have to admit that nature does it better.

He and She

Sarah here.

As you may have gathered from my last post, I’ve spent a lot of time in Lightroom lately. This weekend, I realized I was getting rusty on the shooting and Photoshop side of things, so I did a quick & dirty macro shoot just to shake the cobwebs off.

Two lessons:

1. Light intentionally: This was window light, which was fine, but it was fiddly as the sun peeked in and out of the clouds.  Also, the catchlights don’t match (though maybe it’s cool that they’re sort of symmetrical).  Next time I’ll set up a speedlight to get more consistency.

2. Get a headrest: My models were standing, and it’s impossible to stand without some sway. Macro lenses have such an incredibly narrow depth of field, and the frame was so tight on the eye, that even a teeeeeeeeny bit of movement meant that the point of focus was in front of or behind the eye, and/or the eye wasn’t fully in the frame.  I probably can’t eliminate that movement, but there should be ways to minimize it.

I didn’t have a concept in mind for the final image, but this eventually came together while doodling, and I like the colors (sampled from each eye). I think it could be a cool idea for an engagement photoshoot… next time I have a couple together, I want to give this another go.

Making Magic

Sarah here!

The thing I love about compositing is that it gives me an excuse to take pictures of just about anything, anywhere. I’m not a landscape or nature photographer (I leave that to Andrew), but you never know when you might want a particular scene as a background. Thus when we went on vacation to the Olympic Peninsula last year, I found plenty to keep me busy while Andrew and his brother were shooting waterfalls and epic forest scenes.

Alas, the rainforest was not as cool and lush and rainy as we’d hoped… in fact, it was hot and dry. We were also hoping for overcast skies, but we got sun with hardly a cloud in sight. Most of our photographs were taken in the middle of the day, since we had more places we wanted to visit during our brief stay than we had golden hours (and it was a vacation, so I admit, we were often lazy in the mornings).

In summary, we had hoped to capture magical green rainforests, but we ended up with a lot of brown and some very harsh light. It was still lovely, but it wasn’t quite what we’d been dreaming of. Below is one of my better straight-out-of-camera shots… I spent a lot of time at this bend in the path because that mossy lump next to the trail looked like some kind of beastie, and I knew I’d want to play with it later.

A scene from the Olympic Peninsula, straight out of the camera.

The out-of-camera background looks pretty flat, but it has good bones. With a lovely and interesting subject, some Orton glow, color toning, and a little straight-up magic, it turned into something that makes me smile to look at. Goes to show that saving pictures comes in handy sometimes, even you don’t quite know what to do with them at the time.

Happy Photoshopaversary!

2015 Photoshopaversary 1

Sarah here. Today is a very special day for me… it’s my first Photoshopaversary! One year ago today, I downloaded Photoshop and took my first wobbly steps on the path of composite images and digital art.

I was already a pretty competent Lightroom user, and I’d used Gimp occasionally for simple things. Andrew had given me a Wacom tablet, which I now consider pretty much indispensable for Photoshop. I’d been playing with photography for about a year and a half and enjoyed it, but hadn’t really found that spark of inspiration… until I watched this SmugMug video on Benjamin Von Wong, and realized that photography doesn’t just have to be about capturing the real world. It can be about bringing the unreal to life. Picking up Photoshop was a step into a new world where anything was possible, limited only by imagination and skill level… and both of those can always be pushed further. I still have a very long way to go, but I’ve come a long way, and this is a journey without a destination. The journey IS the destination.

A quick shout-out to my Photoshop/photography heroes (more detail on them to come in later posts), in the order I discovered them: Benjamin Von Wong, Renee Robyn, Corey Barker, Aaron Nace of Phlearn, and Roy Korpel. I am awed by all of these artists, and their work regularly makes me say, “I want to do THAT!”

A million thanks to each of them for filling my head with amazing and beautiful images, and opening up new worlds of possibility and potential.

(I’m going to try to make an annual tradition of making a Photoshopaversary doodle, and I figured I’d set the bar pretty low on my first –last minute, wildly procrastinated– effort. It was a good chance to play with 3D, at least, which I haven’t done enough of yet.)