Texas has had a beautiful bluebonnet season this year and I wanted to celebrate that with a fun theme! We thought it would be fun to try a different take on the usual “this is me with bluebonnets” theme. The vintage theme was only enhanced by the bold contrast of yellows and reds to the blue flowers. This is why I love Spring!
Spring is absolutely my favorite time of the year in Texas. The temperature is nice, everything is in bloom, and I don’t suffer from a pollen allergy. (sorry for my friends who do!) But the highlight of this time of year is all the wildflowers most notably, the bluebonnets! We took a trip to Brenham about a week ago and had a little fun photographing the kids playing and attempting to get a family photo (fail, but that’s another story)
One picture, in particular, that I liked was this one. This is straight out of camera (SOOC) I loved the way the wind was blowing her hair, the contrast of her white dress and, of course, the bluebonnets. But I felt that this image could use a little “oomph!” Enter Photoshop. So, I’ll break down the steps I took in transforming this image.
The first thing I did was to do some basic edits in Lightroom. I raised the shadows and the exposure just slightly, increased the contrast and reduced the highlights. Then I added vibrance and reduced the blacks. At this point, I moved the image over to Photoshop. Once in PS, I decided that I wanted her to be trying to catch something more interesting than her little toy dog, so I Googled “balloons png” and I found a few free images to use and settled on what you see. Then, I added a new sky from my collection (I sometimes photograph pretty skies just for this purpose) So, I dropped the sky in over my image and put a layer mask on it. I used the graduated filter to make it darker at the top and lighter towards the horizon (as skies are not generally the same intensity throughout) Then I used my paintbrush to brush the sky off of my subject. Next, I added the balloons. At first the balloons were too different from the overall image and it wasn’t looking natural. So I went to Image, Adjustments, Match Color then selected the sky as my source and the layer as my balloons. I adjusted the Luminance, Color intensity and fade until I felt that the balloons were blending into the overall image a bit better. Now, the issue of her dress. It was too flat and still but I wanted it to help express the movement of the wind that day. So, I opened another image of her dress blowing (see below) and I cut off the part that I wanted to use and added it to my final image.
The final changes I made were to fill in the empty spaces with a few more bluebonnets. I used the clone tool and took from areas within the same focal range and blended them into the empty spots in the field. Then, I used the Liquify tool to make her hair a little more dramatic, Finally, I took the light poles and other small, distracting elements out of the image and Viola! The final product! It may seem like a lot of steps, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process and that, to me, is all part of the fun! I hope this helps and that you get a chance to see the bluebonnets for yourself while they’re still here!
I really love the idea of showing movement in a still image! Sure, a frozen shot of my daughter on the merry go round or a bike would have been fine, but I really wanted to show how fast she was spinning and how dizzy we (both) were getting! (*Warning*, looking through the viewfinder at my subject while spinning on a merry go round got me a special kind of dizzy!)
So, in order to get this kind of image you need to adjust your camera settings in manual mode.
My settings were:
Shutter Speed 1/20 sec. This is a SLOW speed that leaves your shutter open in order to get that blur. So you have to be very steady and encourage your subject to try to be as still as possible. It also lets in lots of light, so you’ll need to close your aperture (or F Stop) down to compensate. Mine was set to F7.1 And, because this was taken during the day I was at ISO 100.
In this case, I was sitting on the opposite side of the merry go round as her. At other times I’ll use these settings and just “follow” my subject (also called “Panning”) to keep them in focus and blur the background.
As you can see from all of the images below, it may take a few tries to get it right.
The second way to add motion blur is by panning. The image below is an example of this. This method is achieved my standing very stable and “following” your subject with the camera. My settings were similar F5.6, SS 1/20. I tried 1/15 but I couldn’t get a sharp subject and at 1/25 my background didn’t blur enough. So I found 1/20 to be the sweet spot. But try adjusting the SS to your liking and see how it effects the results.
I’d love to know if you have tried it and to see what your results were!
I believe that in photography and post production, not everything has to be practical. Sometimes, I just want to have a little fun, and maybe break out of a creative rut! That’s why I enjoy creating levitation (or fly away) images. And the good news is, it’s really not that difficult!
The most important thing to remember is to put your camera on a tripod and don’t move it! First, take a picture of your background.
Next, you’ll want to add your subject, raised by whatever means you have. I used a crate, but you can also use a ladder, a trampoline, another person or whatever you have handy.
That’s really the only 2 shots you absolutely MUST have. The rest is done in Photoshop. You’ll want to open both images together in PS with the image of your subject on top. Then create a mask on the top image (of your subject) and paint out the crate (or ladder) with a paintbrush set to black (make sure opacity and flow are set to 100%). Then, watch the “levitation” happen! Your subject is suddenly floating away!
Below is the final image. I also added a sky and made a few other creative tweaks to finish it off.
Below is an example of another image I made using the same technique.
What will I do with these images? Probably not much. But I enjoyed the process and the results are fun! So if you’re feeling like you are in a creative rut, maybe try something fun and frivolous like a levitation photo!
When it comes to photography gear, I consider myself a minimalist. I love the idea of having a full studio setup, but I don’t have the storage space or the motivation to pull out tons of equiptment when I want to do a shoot. I actually used a dark grey backdrop (purchased from Amazon) for this shoot, but the same effect can be achieved without it. That’s why I like using my garage to make a clean and classic portrait.
Have your subject stand just outside the garage (or any doorway, tunnel, etc) and watch how the light is hitting their face and eyes. Ideally, you want some nice catchlights (the reflection of light) in the eyes and soft light on the face. Then, you can under expose your image just a little and watch the light behind your subject fall off quickly, creating a dark backdrop. Finally, in post processing (Lightroom, Photoshop or a mobile editor like Snapseed) bring up the contrast a little until you’re satisfied!
The first image is a pullback of my setup. As you can see, I only added the backdrop. The following two images are a couple of the results from this setup.
One thing that I really love about photography is being able to show something common in a new way. Most people photograph from the standing position, which is fine, but we all see things from that perspective. If you want an image to be compelling, one way to achieve that is to change your view! You can get very low, high, super close, or whatever you want. Just make it different!
My back yard is cluttered with kids toys and I wanted a cleaner shot of my daughter on the swing without all the visual clutter. So, I climbed to the top of the swing set and shot down onto my daughter. It was definitely precarious and it made me remember my fear of heights, but I was happy with the results!
Below, you’ll see me hoping that I don’t fall while I get “the shot”, plus all the stuff in my yard.
And finally, “the shot”! I took this with my Nikon D750 using my 35mm lens.
If you are like me, you’ve probably found yourself frustrated because your dog doesn’t seem to care about the camera. But, one thing that dogs DO care about are TREATS!
So, the simple answer would be to have treats with you at all times. But what if, perhaps, you are on a bike ride with your six year old and you find some beautiful evening light and you want an impromptu photo shoot of you and your dog, but you are lacking in bribery tools? Never fear! Set up the shot, show your child where the focus and the shutter button are, and then leave the rest to Photoshop!
As you can see in the following image, Einstein is thoroughly confused about what’s going on…
All it takes is a little forethought and planning (and maybe a human tripod) to end up with a nice image of you and your dog!