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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Working the TOOLS...

Here I am again!

As I told you when I posted about my design for the Video Game cover, that was one of my assignments for college this semester.
Today I'd like to share with you another one of them, also because it gives me the chance to go back to something we talked about at the very beginning, when my blog was not even a baby but a proper new born: PHOTOSHOP!

Do you remember when I told you about the millions things you could do with this amazing program for pictures editing?
Well, I now realise that I was a total beginner at the time, but after a semester spent studying Advanced Photography I can now say that I'm pretty aware of some of the incredible things that can be used for editing...

For our assignment, we were asked to produce three composite images: one outdoor, on indoor and a portrait.
If the portrait was meant to be simply retouched using some of the apposite tools, the other two images were much more challenging, as we had to take the background shot and then cut and paste on it a person whose picture should have been taken in the studio.
Sounds easy overall?
Well, it's so not trust me!

You cannot imagine how unnatural it looks when you cut someone and paste him into another background...
First of all the light is CRUCIAL, if you have a total different light in the two pictures, there is no way you'll be able to match them...
But also the settings of the camera when you take the shots, because you are supposed to match the settings used in the background pic with the one you take in the studio and it's everything but obvious and requires again a great effort while setting the lights in the studio.

Anyway, thinking about my assignment, I wanted at first to use some pictures I've taken in London, but I soon realised that the light it's just TOO BAD in that city and impossible to reproduce because of that foggy feeling and that grey-ish reflection all over the place that would have required ages of editing on the indoor shot just to match the exposure and brightness.
Much better to use a picture of my favourite wall in Dublin, up north close to the Docks, which I've taken in a bright marvellous day:

I decided to Photoshop on it a picture of Chiara, taken while having a laugh in the studio during our last photo shoot...
Because I was in the picture as well, at first I cropped it and cut myself out, in order to make it easier to then select Chiara and paste her in the background.

Even if I should have I didn't chose this one because of its light, but just because I like it.
But that made it way harder to make it look believable, not only because I had to flip it to direct it in the right was depending on where the sun light was coming, but also because of the shadow which was so difficult to create as her figure was in such a strange angle.
The final result could have been better, of course, but I must say I was pretty happy with it:

After the struggles I had with the light in this one, which obliged me to go around with the brush tool trying to make some areas brighter, some others darker, for the second shot I've been much more careful...
I took my indoor image in a lovely tea room on the Liffey, which is also a library and which I absolutely LOVE.

Isn't it so pretty?
The fact that my subject was suppose to be sited in the arm chair behind the table happened to be more challenging, because I had to cut and paste on it that bit of the table which had to be in front of her.
But it was totally fine, even because as I said I've been very careful in reproducing the same light while shooting Chiara in the studio.

It's so crazy how, if the light is generally good and you don't need to work a lot on it, you get the chance to correct much tinier details and change every bit of light, every bit of shadow, every wrong spots, everything which doesn't sound good, until the picture looks almost perfect.
Every time you look at it after a while, you'll find something else to add, a little detail to change.
I think it's thrilling and I loved to work on my picture taking my time in order to persuade myself that it was not a composite image but a great shot of Chiara browsing books in the library-tea room.

What do you reckon?

Anyway, even if I enjoyed a lot working on my composite images, my very true love was the portrait.
I LOVED finding ways to change the connotations of Chiara's portrait I had chosen, 

still making it look like her but with something else different.
I wanted to give her a movie star/princess/fashion model look.
I know...someone might think it's way too edited, because it actually is!
Even if I didn't actually change a lot her shapes, but I focused on the texture of her skin and I had a bit of fun changing the color of her eyes, which I managed to keep pretty believable...
I also made her mouth more definite and darker, as she was wearing a deep red lipstick which I think suits her so much! 

But at the same time I can really see this picture of her being on an interview on a magazine, in a fashion photo shoot or in an advertising campaign for a perfume...

When I finished, I couldn't stop looking at it!
She is absolutely gorgeous, even more than usual...
Maybe the most difficult thing and the only one which ended up being a little annoying was getting rid of all the tiny bits of her around her head and her forehead. It's so hard to keep it natural when you do it!
What do you think of the final result?

While doing the assignment pictures, I've also been experimenting in other ways, with some pictures of mine in order to become more skilled in some of the tools I wanted to use for my assignment, such as changing the eye colours, which didn't look that good when I first tried it...
For example this shot of me taken in the same photo shoot for the assignment pictures:

gave me the chance to experiment with the Clone Tool on the skin and the Magnetic Lasso I used again to refine eye colour and "apply some lipstick" on me...

All soft and smooth... :)

But Photoshop is not only about retouch.
You can really be creative with it as much as you want, as I already showed you with my design cover.
For example, because in this photo shoot we had cigarettes with us, I had the idea of making up something about smoke:

"They thought it was bad, she did not. They told her not to do it, but she kept doing it. They said it was a mistake, she didn't care at all. They told it might have killed her, but she answered she'd rather die because of a choice she had made than because of something which had been chosen for her. She was like that: she never listened. She just lived, and she didn't give a sh..."

What do you think?
This is do demonstrate how Photoshop is not easy, but neither too difficult to use, and can reveal a lot a great surprises and inspire you a lot...
You never know what could come out from a picture, until you challenge it a bit...

Stay tuned!


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