Sunday, 24 June 2012


Submission for Assignment 4 is now complete. For this first time I have posted this on Facebook to judge peoples reactions to the Real or Fake image, lets see what comes back.

In the meanwhile I am now a convert to HDR and Photomatix. I have seen tutorials on HDR and have combined two or three images together manually in Photoshop but never used custom software. I found that the process in CS5 works but not great, what I like about Photomatix is the speed and clarity of the composition. Adding the tone maps really brings the image to life. At this point all I can see is myself doing is HDR images!

Thankfully educational discount is 75% off so this piece for software was a steal to buy and I have used it for two of the images already for the final assignment 5. I hope these are well received. Would post now but it will ruin the assignment......

This as it happens is almost complete and I feel that I have done all I can with the images, perhaps I might just buzz these around Facebook too to get any feedback. A few of my friends are very good photographers so its got to be worth a bash!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Exercise: Alteration

Well, we are leading up to making more and more changes to images, and this exercise is about replacing a part of an image with areas around it to remove it completely from the scene. This form of manipulation could well be considered unethical but in some cases it may be necessary where a moment in time can not be repeated for example of where any potential angle or viewpoint does not remove an ugly artefact.

This is a reasonable good wedding photograph showing the happy couple but separated by someone in the background. Although the depth of field is blurring it out this is a large distraction and one that makes the image unacceptable.

The area around the gentleman in the background is a tree (bark) which is a good cloning material as it has an unstructured pattern that can easily be blended. First of all I made a careful selection of this chap and feathered it by 3.5px as shown left. This is to make sure that I only clone within the selection and not on to the face of the groom.

Using the cone tool I select an area of bark and carefully clone this into the selection in several passes until all of the selection is made. There is a small piece not selected just above the shoulder of the groom, I did not select this in the cloning pass as there are some flowers protruding that I did not want to clone over. In a separate selection of this area I applied a hue / saturation adjustment altering the saturation, lightness and hue to match the background, this had very little affect on the hue of the flowers hence masking out the dark blue of the man's shirt.The final image once complete is below.

I think this is a reasonable removal of the gentleman and I can't really see an remnants of alteration, certainly not at this resolution. Perhaps there is a little but it certainly has brought the image back to life. The lady to the right is not ideal but not as bad as the chap in between the happy couple. Ethically is this correct? No I should have asked the gentleman to move, that would have saved the shot, but I do accept that there are scenes and situations that would warrant minor removals where absolutely necessary....What the eye doesn't see the heart doesn't grieve over? Perhaps.....

Exercise: Addition

This again is a two staged exercise challenging the dynamic range of the camera and learning how to merge either two exposures of the same image (taken within seconds) into a single image or by replacing part of an image that may be overexposed with another image

For the first part I took two images of a scene on a tripod so that the images would be exactly the same, but altering the exposure (shutter speed) so that the first image has the foreground perfectly exposed (1/5 sec) and the second the sky perfectly exposed (1/80 sec) both images were taken at f13 so that the depth of field remained constant.

Not surprisingly the dynamic range of the camera is well surpassed and either the sky is completely burnt out or the foreground too underexposed.

Using Photoshop I copied the darker image onto a new layer on the foreground exposure and applied a standard mask. The notes suggest using the eraser tool to remove under exposed parts to reveal the foreground exposure underneath, and while this is a good way to do things I prefer to use masks as they are non-destructive; any errors can simply be altered by painting in either black (hide) or white (show) with varying brush opacities to blend in the two images.


So I first added a gradient from white to back (top to bottom) in the mask, this revealed an almost perfect image with no selection or erasing. As the horizon in my image is not flat this left some of the bushes too dark, this came from the darker exposure of the sky. By selecting a soft brush with an opacity of 20 I painted over these areas so that they blended in to produce the following composite image. I feel that this has worked well and any join is invisible due to the blend of the mask as seen from the layers menu above.

The second task is to replace the sky completely with a second image from a different scene. I used the same landscape image but this time replacing the sky with the following image. I chose this image of the 'sky' as the sun was shining from the left to the right as it is in the original landscape.

I used a similar method as before using a layer mask to blend in the new image into the existing image to produce the following. Whilst I think that this is acceptable and not much to compare with from the first image composition I feel that this one is not quite as believable.

Exercise: Enhancement

This exercise is finding a way to improve a portrait shot taken in shade.This involves a two stage process, firstly by dodging or increasing the lightness of the face, and then secondly enhancing the eyes by further dodging and increasing saturation.

My original shot was not too bad though it is lacking in punch and vibrancy.

I created a new levels adjustment layer and filled the mask with 100% black; this effectively blocks out all changes to the adjustment. I then boosted the levels significantly and then using a white soft headed brush of 50px I painted into the mask revealing an overexposed face. I preferred to do the selection this way as it is easy to see the effect on the image and is easily corrected with a black brush. Once I had the right selection in the mask I then adjusted the levels to the correct value to produce a lightened face that is hopefully realistic.

The final section is about boosting the eyes. For this I repeated the levels adjustment on a new layer to boost the whiteness in the eyes. I have often seen this well over-cooked in cheaper magazines, almost looking like the eyes have been tipexed in, so I was careful to not over do this. Finally I repeated the selection and used a hue / saturation adjustment layer just to boost the saturation of the eyes slightly.

Overall this is a good improvement to the original image making the eyes much more piercing and drawing. It is possible on this blog to click on the first image to bring up a slide show moving between images with the cursor keys, it is easier to see the changes in this mode.