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Old Nov 12, 2006, 6:17 PM   #41
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Thanks so much, Glyn, for letting us play and learn with your picture! I actually think this couple would look better with another background other than clouds (maybe a starlit sky with a big moon?) but it's the best I can do on my laptop ... Ria
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 6:28 PM   #42
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P.S. The two pictures above are the same file; the difference in the background is solely due to the percent of your original gray background I let come through the clouds in the blending layer. I also blurred the edges of the couple to soften them and help them not look so pasted on.

BTW, Glyn, I liked how you graduated your original gray background so that it gave them a darker base to stand on. How did YOU do that?? Ria
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Old Nov 13, 2006, 3:48 AM   #43
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Hi Ria, Nicholas and all.


Phil and Rachael are certainly looking a lot better on these backgrounds than on my original 'fix' ... they are a long way from the cluttered room they originally inhabited and Nicholas, that ocean-going theme .... yes that fits the feeling very well indeed. I must say I do think dancers generally look better in ballroom gear [admittedly I am biassed] ... and generally better out of modern ballrooms where the atmosphere has moe to do with competition than fun. .... A question ... is there any easy way to change the size of subjects relative to the background when overlaying them becuase so far I have been using change image size then then reding if I have not got it right but would prefer something like draggable handles to simply resize whilst positioning on the background - I feel I hae bene missing out on something obvious. Also I wonder, would it be OK with the two of youif I send them these pics?


Ria, thanks for the explanation of the workflow with Ian and Victoria. It is making sense yet I would still appreciate the unflattened PSD so I will send PM. Thanks for the offer. It will teach me more about layers. After a long time working mainly with the basic adjustments and the burning/dodging and clone, I 'discovered' quickmask and the last few weeks have been getting used to that. Took me a while to get to grips. The 'Standard' masks I have been finding confusing ... I suddenly find I have lost access to it or it is affecting bits that I had not intended ... and in ways I had not expected. So seeing your psd with a set of masks which are suceeding in doing what they are intended to will be very helpful. Thankyou.

I followed your link to DRL's post ... that many layers would confuse me totally .... his work impressed me greatly with that circuit-board ... almost 21st Century Da-vinci 'human/geometry' feel. I have accidentally come accross blending modes and have one or two favourites .... hard light I find useful when going for extreme contrast. I seem to remember a street shot from some time ago where the daylight shadows were not particularly soft so I was outside of the comfortable dynamic range limits, but I was nto getting the purity of a silhourette and indeed I did not want that. I discovered hard light blending mode from somewhere and that seemed to crisp up the image. Form was gained at the expense of content but otherwize the shadows would have been so muddy that it would not have been a useful pic anyway. Hard light is the only one I have used but I must get to now them better because it seems that those options ARE the glue which sticks the layers together creatively.

You mentioned your willingess to 'allow' a mistake for creative effect. As much as I am wanting to become technically precise with noise reduction[partly to get the very best out of the R1 and partly because I want my results to be increasingly a result of my choice rather than lack .... I do love some of the watercolouring effects that can be got.
I attach a Ricoh picture of Kim and his partner .... this is one of those moments in the dance where the couple is on one spot and are in transition from spinning in one direction to reversing. So the people are in focus yet there is swirl of dress and slight dynamics of leg movement. This is also an example of 'last year's accident' being notices and subsequently looked out for in order to capture deliberately. This was taken three months ago.

Off on a tangent ... I have always loved photography, and what I love about digital photography is that the distance between snapping, PP, feedback, then trying again is so close that learning accellerates terrifically ...

Anyway, all the best

Glyn
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Old Nov 13, 2006, 7:01 AM   #44
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Hello Glyn and All,

Yes, please share the deck dancer image with the dancers, I hope they like it.

I use a short cut to resize an image I want to paste on another.

I use the Crop tool on the background to get it in the same size mode asthe image I want to paste.

If your dancers were 72 dpi at 473 pixels wide and 700 pixels high,

and my background is whatever, I look at my dancer image and approximate the pixels height of the dancers, lets say about 625 pixels of the total 700 pixels.

I then look at my background and determine approximately where I want the top of the dancer's head and the dancer's feet to be. The area of the background image that will be covered by the dancers will be the same 625 pixels high in the finished image.

Then I decide how much of the background image I want to show in the final image.

From top to bottom I may want the background to be 800 pixels high and 900 pixels wide at 72 dpi.

I then select the crop tool as Custom, plug in the desired pixels and dpi and then crop the background image.

Now I select the dancer image and copy, (paste)it onto the background image.

I toggle back and forth until I like what I see.

This is an outline of how I paste one image on another of different sizes and dpi.

Hope you find this useful.

Regards, Nicholas
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Old Nov 13, 2006, 10:50 AM   #45
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Hi there

Nicholas .. Thankyou .. I had never thought of using the cropping tool to adjust image size. I have begun to get to now it better. Previously I had just been using no parameters in the tool-specific boxes.I can now see how I can achieve a degree of control over the size of what I copy to another background. I suppose I had been hoping that there might be some function hiding away that allowed resizing by dragging a box butthat looks less liely. I thought I would be having to go back to the image size on the menu .. but this that you have shown me is far more direct. thanks


Ria .... hah ...Now it was MY turn to go back to photoshop to work out what it was I had done to get that grey background.

1: Cut your subject from the background so that your subject is freefloating on the canvas

2: Go to Layers Menu/New Fill Layer/Gradient
OR Layers Pallette/4th Icon from the left .. a circle diagonally half black at the top and half white at the bottom then choose 'gradient' from the list that comes up.

3: A gradient Fill option box will appear giving you choice of What gradient style, which direction and colour.
Choose parameters and click OK.

4: If you cannot see the subject against the gradient, then assume the subject is hidden behind the gradient and change the order.

If I had my time over again, I would have followed your lead and softened the couple against the grey background. I'll remember to do that in future.

All the best

Glyn


EDIT: I remember you mentioned trying blur to get rid of background before going for the clouds. Here is an image I did of Kim and his partner using very unsubtle blur, no softening at all ... er ... very early days!
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Old Nov 13, 2006, 2:34 PM   #46
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Hi, Glyn:

Of course your friends can have a print of my edits - anytime. I'm flattered, actually.

You are ahead of me in PS in many areas; I have no idea what a "quickmask" is but I will find out. I am a computer geek by trade and normally proficient with any type of software, but I must admit that learning Photoshop has been frustrating to me. I am a quick study and usually I master a program in a very short time, but due to it's size I have only scratched the surface of CS2 and only recently begun using adjustment layers. I do know some advanced techniques, but I'm as you all have no doubt figured out, am embarrasingly deficient in many of the basics. I have not had the time to devote to my methodical "complete submersion" method of learning in the past, so I am now trying to remedy that oversight. This website and the radiantvista.com daily critiques have really helped in this regard, because I can download them in advance, then study them at when I can snatch a few moments. A cautious caveat once again: the way I do things is most likely not the "right" way!

For example, I know there is a way to resize an image by highlighting your selection, then going to transform-scale. This method is used a lot in ad print to make parts of a model look taller or slimmer, but it can also be used to resize the entire image. Maybe someone out on the forum knows this method, (perhaps in the portrait section?) I thought about doing it with your dancers; not that they aren't very slim already but something about the shooting angle seemed to foreshorten their bodies just a bit. I read about it in one of my many photo mags but can't recall at the moment how, exactly, it was done. But Nick's method seems to be much more precise - can't wait to experiment later tonight. I used his eyedropper Levels instructions from a few posts back on Ian's and Victoria's pictures, but I'm still not sure I got it right ... Before now, all I have done in Levels is either used auto levels, or if that doesn't look right, I just dragged in the right and left side of the slider until it was just inside the start of the "mountains."

I know little about the ballroom dancing circuit (unfortunately!) but I am familiar with how frustrating competitions can be to capture, as my sons and I competed in marial arts tournaments for years. Maybe, you could talk a willing photogenic couple into someday posing in exchange for prints in another venue of your choice ... perhaps a grassy moor at sunset? Or even an empty street, washed with rain and lit by a single lamppost ... or ... darn! Cliche's, I know - but there's really nothing new under the sun, is there? The uniqueness would be in your own personal artistry.

My mind is filled with images ... if only I had the skill to translate them into pictures! Sigh... Ria
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Old Nov 13, 2006, 6:12 PM   #47
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Hi Ria

Quickmask is third row up from the bottom of the toolbar .... those squares with circles. If you click the square with filled circle ... the one on the left, then choose a paintbrush .... then if you paint on your picture, you willl be painting a red mask. It defaults to excusion .... so that egverything yuo paint will NOT get included in the next action you take ... for example adjustment like brightness/contrast. FOr a while, I would paint red the area that I wanted to change, then go to main menu .... 'Select'/Invert selection. Then only what I had painted red would be affected.

Transform-Scale .... I am certainly going to look into that. I have been using it a lot with buildings to get them parallell. I have never thought of using it to simply reduce entire size of image. I will try that.

Those dancers definitley needed some of that ...... I had thoughtlessly put the camera to eye level and had therefore not got the body-length balance that I would have ideally liked. Now THAT's the beautiful thing about R1 .... waist level viewing now possible. That is a luxury I never had since I was using a Russian Lubitel Twin Lens reflex or my fathers Exacta B 1950 SLR which had ground glass screen with pop up light shield.

Interestingly enough my keeness in ballroom dancing came about because injuries meant I had to give up the harder martial arts. As it happens, The ballroom comps are not all that much different from martial art contests in that there are a variety of moves which couples use to incapacitate other couples. Unfortunately it is not just about looking good. It is about making the competition look bad. for example there are a variety of blocking moves and boxing-in moves which prevent the opposition from demonstrating their best moves.

Looks like you and me bothhave beenlearning photoshop in an unstructured way. Somehow I have found myself learning the bits I need only when I need them .. or worse still ... learning the bits I need a few months AFTER I needed them. Since I had got back into photography last year with the Ricoh then I have been increasingly 'living' in Photoshop but doing it bit by bit and lacking competence. With the very recent advent of the R1, I have determined to learn to do high quality work. That's my goal ... basically to get results which justifies what this camera can now do and ... er .... what my visions are now daring to envision.

Empty street washed with rain and lit by a single lamppost sounds good to me.
Incidentally, I was going portraits of a friend of mine on Sunday. The R1 flash was doing a perfeclty good job .. but I felt there was somehting missing ... and got out a single tungsten lamp and used that with flash just doing a very weak fill-in [and thus ruiniing the colour balance] and the feel of the shoot suddenly became far more noir .. and basically sucessful. HE is one that people laugh at behind his back and sometimes to his face. I see a very noble and good person and I want my pictures to make that clear to anyone who sees them.That is one of my dreams.

I'm sure you're on the way to develop the skill to turn the images of your mind into pictures.
And I hope I'll find out what I need to turn some of my dreams into pictures.

All the best

Glyn
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Old Nov 14, 2006, 5:18 AM   #48
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Hi all

I mentioned Paul, a friend who was good enough to sit in front of a dark blue sheet for an hour. The only PP is a slight crop, a cleaning of the teeth [quickmask and hue/saturation] and a brightening of the eyes [quickmask and brightness/contrast] a removal of a few stray hairs.

Apart from that nothing except copious attempts to colour balance.

I had found that the direct flash was flattening him too much so I changed the lighting to be one household tungsten anglepoise lamp .... about five feet away at nose-height and slightly to his left. I wanted to get shaping but not sag. I had another anglepoise lamp about 9 feet away from his right to slighly fill in some shadows.
I then made what I think was the mistake of using direct flash reduced by the maximum two and a half stops. It added a part colour-cast. I could balance his face, but then the chin, which had not the flash in the same direct way, has a warmth which contrasts. Obviously I was not going to be able to correct it without unbalancing his face.
Looking at again today then I see this brownness at the sides of his face too.

On the plus side, I turned off autofocus and encouraged him to not move backward of forward. I then got instantaneous response from the camera rather than low light focus-lag.

Something I would like to check: The battery was rather low when he arrived so I put it on charge. Later when I started the shoot, it was still charging but I decided to turn the camera on and take pictures with the charger conected and running. I reasoned that this might be the equivalent of powering the camera from the mains. Indeed the flas recucle was very fast and everything went without a hitch but I did not see anything in the manual to indicate that possibility so I wonder whether you have tired this or have any thoughts on the matter ... or whether I would be better using the camera only with properly charged batteries.


Best wishes

Glyn


Exposure Time = 1/50"
F Number = F4.8
ISO Speed Ratings = 160
Focal Length = 71.5mm
Sharpness = Soft






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Old Nov 14, 2006, 11:42 AM   #49
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Hi, Glyn:

There are lots of things I really like about Paul's portrait. I love the way his shirt is almost the exact same color of his gray/blue eyes (and he has wonderful eyes, the catchlights work well.) The solid color of the shirt and the background were well chosen, and do not distract from the face. (Although more distance from the background or a flash diffuser would have helped to soften or eliminate the shadow cast by the flash.) I also really like the slight, open mouth smile ... it looks very natural, as if he is about to speak. The focal length chosen and turning off in-camera sharpening were an excellent idea. As for myself, I use mostly natural light and don't use a lot of flash other than for fill, but having said that, I don't see the color cast or harsh flash you were worried about on my LCD monitor. In fact, you avoided the "flashy" look I destest nicely, and I think the facial modeling and details are just right. But if it shows up on your monitor, you might consider a B&W conversion through a Channels Mixer adjustment layer.

Some things I might have done differently would be to make those fantastic, souful eyes the main emphasis of the portrait; perhaps with selective focus, or by changing the angle and/or level of the camera. Being petite myself, I have had to become very aware of the two later issues when shooting portraits. If I'm not careful, my own height becomes a negative issue in the portrait. (Not that I'm implying that you are too short, just fussing about the camera level!) Small changes in angle or level can make a big difference.

It looks like Paul had his chin lifted just a bit and his head tilted slightly, is that correct? If so, then yes, I agree this angle does help eliminate chin issues, but unfortunately also has the unwanted result of narrowing the eyes. I like the slight tilt of his head to the left, but the nose straight on in the frame exaggerates his ears and brow a bit too much. Since lowering his chin would probably not be a good idea in this case, I think raising the camera (to even perhaps above the level of his eyes?) would foreshorten his brow. A sideways angle would avoid the ears being silouhetted against the background, which is not flattering to Paul.

Did you perhaps have another pic taken from a different angle, or a three quarter view? If so, I would love to see it.

You didn't say whether or not Paul was pleased with his portrait. To me, that is an important issue to be considered. It's strange ... usually, the picture I and the sitter's family like the best turns out to be the one the subject despises the most! One of the many reasons I love portraits so much is that if it's someone you care about, it's practically impossible to mess them up, really. I am a terrible perfectionist, and by far my own worse critic. But with portraits, even if I didn't get it technically perfect, there is always some beauty or a bit of soul to be found in the picture that I never get tired of looking at ... and that's the most important thing, isn't it?

Please tell Paul thank you for being so patient and sharing his picture with us!

Cheers, Ria

(Edit: My ebay R-1 did not come with an ac/adapter, only a wall charger, so I can't answer your questions about using them when shooting. Perhaps another forum member knows?)
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Old Nov 14, 2006, 9:06 PM   #50
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Hi Ria

Y'know .... I'm going to be having him back here on Frida and we are going to redo the shoot.

I had had some misgivings about that background. I had gone for widest aperture at 120mm but is was silly wishful thinking to think that I could lose the background. The only result was that it made quite a lot of the pictures less than fully focussed at all distances from different parts of his face. I think I can clear some space in the hall so that he can be sitting further away from me AND the background.

Your comments were what sealed his fate and had me inviting him back again. I wil need a higher camera ange.I do see how getting him to have his head up and back resulted in his eyes slitting a bit. He generally likes to tilt his head up and back and I have been very used to seeing him like that. You've given me a different angle of seeing and I want to get that into operation. This time I will set up the lights and use no flash at all so as to avoid the mized light/type problem. On my monitor, which is crt it looks rather severe. At first I was worried that I had identified that he had some liver or kidney failiure .... I am used to making some judjements about poeple's health from their colouring ... but I traced it to the light.

Paul probably was indeed about to speak when that photo was taken ... I did the shoot in three sections. First I got him sitting and told him to get into various poses that he liked and to tell me when to click the shutter. I thenbroght th camera to him and shwed him the playback of the images so he could get a sense of what worked and what did not. the second section, I continued to take instruction from him but also, in the process of chatting with him, snapped away when I identified him in ways that I felt would look good. Then I showed him the pics and went on to sectin three in which I set u the tungsten lights and that was done purely conversationally with him and me chatting and me snapping.

I had told him in the beginning that after that I would put them in the computer and that we'd look at them and he wold instruct me which ones he definietly wanted to delete and I woulddo that immediately. To me, HIS choice was paramount at all stages. At the very end when he had chosed four that he liked I also asked if we cold keep thre that I particularly knew would work. He was happ for that.

I then PP'd then and sent him then over the interned later that evening. He was very happy withthem .


I'll certainly pass on your appreciation to him and if it's OK with you would like to let him read this post of yours because it's a great statement of the points he and I need to consider. I can actualy almost visualise the way that his looks will change whe we put your advice into practice.


Here are some pics of him with diffeent angles and emphasis

This first one was one of the last pics of the shoot where i just got him to stand up andI rapidly took pics of him going for a variety of angles .... the camera was at 120mm for this one andI deliberately wanted to get that 'from below' effect but without him having to distort his body. I also wanted to emphasise the sense of his height. Again there are some background shadows .. those are on the ceiling which was between 2 and 3 meters.
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