Friday, 17 December 2010

A Few More From the Tram Sheds

I forgot to add my own images to the day's shoot down at the tram sheds - Lucie kindly reminded me to post some so here they are. All HDR, all OK but, with hindsight, could be better with a more obvious focal point. Problem with shooting in a location like this is that there's almost too much to adsorb on one glance - there needs to be a distinct front. middle and back in the shot. Having almost everything carpeted with colourful graffiti, surprisingly, does not help! Close ups work better - which is why I think Glyn's sneaker shot works so nicely - point of focus. As does Mike's 'Urban Decay' shot, 'toilet' from Lucie, Ian's machine room HDR, and Matt's monochrome image, as examples (black-and-white helps focus the mind on the textures without having to deal with a visual explosion of colour).
I've also added a video with some comments on the thought processes I went through when post-processing some of these shots FYI.

'Still Life', Dunlop factory. Initially I really liked this image but made the mistake of not choosing the correct f-stop - so the spray can in the foreground came out a bit unsharp. It was quite distracting in the assembled HDR so it had to be removed! I post-processed this Photomatix Pro HDR frame using Freaky Detail - thanks to Mike for the directions on how that's done (see end of post), works a treat. Added two vignettes to finish it off.
Close-up using a 15mm fisheye. Had to crop some of the left-hand side because of excess edge softness (should use a smaller f-stop next time!). Finished off with a double vignette (small one with 30px Feather, larger one using 150px Feather). Freaky Detail FX.
Glebe Tram shed, Canon 15mm EF lens. Photomatix Pro post-processed using Mike's Freaky Detail again - the effect was really unnecessary here because there was so much in the shot anyway. I lightened the centre pole a bit (with the Dodge brush) to try to add a bit more of a 3D effect. It really needs a figure in the frame. Next time maybe. I added the FD effect anyway - it really cranked up the details along the right-hand side of the frame.
Probably my favourite. Again the Canon 15mm EF lens. On reflection I could have physically got lower in the carriage but I rather liked the symmetry this angle created anyway (but only after I had transformed some of the optical distortion out of the frame).
A final shot that has had the foreground details selected then enhanced, sharpened and the saturation increased to bring it more to the front (visually). Background was subsequently desaturated and softened a little to push the point home.

What makes a good shot? A common enough question. Here are the thought processes I go through between pressing the shutter and physically post-procesing the shot...

Technique: Adding a double vignette
A vignette is a darkened edge to a picture.
1: Open the image
2: Choose the rectangular marquee tool (a marquee is a fancy word for a closed line or box, usually drawn around the subject), set the Feathering (off the Options Palette top of the screen) to about 150px and draw a rectangular marquee about 1.5cms inside the edge of the shot (on a 21Mp image). Release the mouse and you'll see the rectilinear shape change to more of a 'geometric oval'. Invert the selection (Ctrl + SHIFT + I) so that it fits round the edge of the frame and use the Paint Bucket tool to dump about 30% black into the edge. If this is not dark enough, click a second time to darken it further.
3: Deslect that selection and make another marquee, but with the Feather value set to around 25px (for a harder edge). Invert it and add a dollop of black set to 50% or more to add a hard black edge to the softer wider black vignette.

Technique: Adding Massive Detail into a Shot
Here's the Freaky Detail recipe off Calvin Hollywood's Blog
Do all the basic tone adjustments first, then:
1: Duplicate the layer, (Ctrl/Cmd J)
2:  Adjust the blending mode to Vivid Light.
3: Invert the layer (Cmd I)
4: Now make a sharpening adjustment using the Surface Blur filter (Filter>Blur>Surface Blur)
5: Adjust the surface blur's Radius and Threshold sliders to about 40%, or to taste, keeping halos to a minimum.
6: Press SHIFT + Alt+ Cmd/Ctrl+E. This flattens everything into one layer, as a copy.
7: Delete 'Layer 1'
8: Set the Blend Mode to 'Overlay'.
9: Finally flatten the layers and adjust contrast and shadows (with the Shadows/Highlights tool.
10: Set layer opacity to about 40% to reduce the effect.

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