A few people ask me how much post processing is done on my shots. As an example here is the centre spread poster in Custom Car of Steve Brown’s T’n'A Hot Rods. This shot was taken from up a six foot ladder, there was one off camera flash to fill in the rear quater of the back car as it came out really dark in the shot. As you can see the post processing is just a tidy up of background distractions really such as buildings as telegraph wires, some dodging, burning and sharpening. It all helps to keep your focus on the subject matter.
The keen eyed among you will notice a slight update to my website. I’ve created a new pinstripe logo so have changed the website to fit. If you come straight to the blog be sure to go back to the front door and check out the updated slide show. I have had a t-shirt printed with the new logo so I’ll be easier to spot at shows. I have also uploaded a desktop wallpaper to flickr, get the full size version here. Hope you like to new look.
People often ask me how to improve their photos, I’m a big fan of practice, practice, practice but you need to know the basics first. I went on a City and Guilds evening class to learn how to use a camera, great fun and if you get a good group it’s fun sharing your photos every week but it is a large commitment to time that not everyone can make.
Recently I discovered The Art Of Photography Podcast hosted by Ted Forbes and this would be the first port of call I would recommend to anyone wanting to improve their photography. Ted covers all the areas that I covered in the evening class I attended and then some. The great thing about Ted is there is no equipment snobbery, he’s quite happy to use a phone to take a photo if it’s the right tool for the job and has no prejudice about film or digital. As well as the technical aspects of photography Ted also takes inspiration from other photographers and reviews their work, discussing what makes a great photo.
If you’ve just picked up a camera for the first time or are a seasoned Pro wanting a refresher tune into Ted, you won’t regret it.
For a while I’ve been in search for a “digital Holga” and I’ve finally found what I was looking for. Hipstamatic is an app available on the iPhone and other platforms that turns your phone into a film camera emulator. You can choose from a range of different film types, lenses and flashes, upgrading the choice for a small fee. It’s great fun and it’s cool to have it with you at all times. I’m going to shoot a project with it soon but meanwhile here are a few snaps. See more in my flickr.
Blurb dropped me a mail today to introduce a new feature. They now have a BookShow Widget to allow book previews to be inserted into web pages. So here is my book CR ML NG 09 in BookShow mode:
One of the great things about Photoshop is that you can see how things look before spending money doing them for real. I’ve been playing with a shot of my Camaro to see how it would look in a few guises.
Here is the original shot:
Lowered and with Foose Nitro wheels:
Changed colour to black:
Bare metal with a smattering of rust due to the exposed metal:
Nineties style Pro Street pink:
Larger versions are available in the flickr set.
I had this tutorial on my old website and it proved to be popular so I thought it was time I moved it to this blog. By following the steps you can create the effect of a very long rig positioned in front or behind a car in motion. As always with Photoshop there are lots of different ways of achieving the same result, this is just how I did it. The photos have my old URL on them which is no longer active. The cars belong to Derek and Scott Carter hence the title of the image “Father and Son”.
The following was all done in Photoshop CS2. I opened up the original file, as you can see it is a little underexposed, this was to retain the detail as there was a lot of glare coming from the windscreens. Have a look for anything that needs fixing, in this case the Plymouths wheels weren’t pointing forward so I had a play with those by using the Polygonal Lasso, Free Transform and then fixing any bits missing with the Clone Tool.
Using the Polygonal Lasso I created two new layers (one for each car) that will eventually sit right on top of the image. I created two layers in case I needed to adjust the levels on each car separately (I didn’t in the end).
Making a copy of the background layer I cloned out the cars, this is so that when you create the motion blur bits of the car do not create a halo around the cars. You can be pretty rough with this as it is covered and blurred later on.
Using the Filter, Blur, Radial Blur select Zoom and best quality, I think I used about 20 for the setting. I offset the centre to the left to be behind the Satellite.
Put the layers in the right order. I decided to sort the colour and everything else as a whole so flattened the image and saved it as another file.
Now I used the Show/Highlight Tool and played with the levels to sort out the exposure. Gave the image some more colour via saturation and contrast. Once all that was done I ran it through Noise Ninja to clean it up a little.
This particular image went on to be used by UPS for a presentation to Mopar in the US.
I thought it was time I got to grips with lighting a car in the dark so went to have a play last weekend.
HD Version available to download here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grantgb/3977575664/sizes/o/
1 X Well used Canon 5D
1 X Abused Canon 24-105 IS L
1 X PT04 Sender and Reciever (AKA Ebay Poverty Triggers)
1 X Vivitar 285
1 X Neglected Manfrotto 055 Pro B
Memory Cards and Accessories to taste. Similar ingredients are available from other manufacturers.
1. Find a dark space, if it is night this will happen everywhere. Position car as required, something cool works well. In this case my 1967 Chevy Camaro 327 RS.
2. Add lens to camera, add PT04 sender to the mix and then connect to tripod.
3. Set the camera to manual and set as follows: ISO 100, F4.0, 1/200, RAW, One shot, Timer. The actual exposure will depend on ambient light and the power of the flash. You will have to check the exposure and adjust accordingly. Also if shooting other than at right angles to the car F4 may not give enough depth of field.
4. Focus on the car, ensure that Autofocus is turned off to prevent any shift in focus.
5. Connect PT04 to Vivitar 285, turn both on. Set Vivitar 285 to 1/2 power.
6. Fire shutter and then position yourself around the car and point the flash at the car. Hold the flash until the timer runs down, the shutter fires and the flash is triggered.
7. Repeat step 6 until you feel you have lit all parts of the car in separate exposures. This could include putting the flash inside the car, behind it or under it depending on the effect you want to achieve. You can chimp on the camera and scroll through to shots to check what you have got. Be careful not to get any direct reflections of the flash on the car, watch the angle you are using to fire the flash.
8. Now your ingredients are prepared it’s time to cook them. Layer all the shots in Photoshop or similar photoediting software and use “lighten” to blend the layers. You’ll find that making layers visible or not is like switching flashes on or off in a studio where you would have had lots of different lights all firing at once.
9. I usually then take one blended layer to do any final touch ups and colour correction. Then enjoy the results.
Here are the 8 shots that make up this image:
A number of people have asked me how I processed the photos of Bug Jam recently, so here we have a step by step guide.
As these photos are only for posting on the web I processed them at 750 px x 500px rather than full size. This speeds up my work-flow. For anyone interested the shots were taken with a Canon 5D, 100-400 IS L, 24-105 IS L and some of the night shots were taken with a Canon IXUS IS 85. All processing was done in Photoshop CS4 although you should be able to achieve this with any photo processing software that supports layers. There are always lots of ways to achieve the same results, this is just the way I work.
The first thing I do when processing shots like this is to decide on a style and crate a template. So I start with a 750 px x 500px blank image.
I added a border to finish the photos in plain white. I did this by adding a solid white layer and cutting out a window.
Next I added my website logo in the corner of the image with a drop shadow. I also have a custom brush that paints my logo onto anything.
Adding the grime. I have a number of dirty paper images that I purchased from Shutterstock , I sold some of my photos through them and reinvested the money in some useful textures and backgrounds. I dragged the paper in as a new layer…
…then blended the paper onto the other layers using multiply and then faded the opacity to 50%.
Now I created a new blended fill layer in a selected area on the right of the image. This is to simulate a light leak on an old camera or Holga type camera. The negatives would often be exposed to light on one side when the sun had leaked into the back of the camera. This layer also had the opacity reduced.
With the template complete I can now get on with processing the actual photos. I just shot in JPEG rather than RAW, again to cut down on workflow time and as these were just for fun rather than criticial like magazine work. This is a panning shot taken from the grass banking at the Pod with the 100-400, camera set to Time Value of 1/125th second.
To process the colour I used an action from Totally Rad Actions called Troy. It’s one of thier free to try actions. I really must purchase the full set next time I have the cash.
The final step is to drag the colour processed photo onto the template so that the layers take effect and then save for web. Onto the next photo and again drag into the template and save.
So that is how I created the Bug Jam photos and gives you an idea about my work-flow. I hope you’ve found it useful, if you did let me know.
Here’s a shot I’ve been working on. We put a trolley jack under this Pro Street GTO to simulate a wheelie, add some photoshop and we go from a park to the strip.