What is the greatest challenge you faced on a photoshoot? Your answer may very well include time pressure, an annoying art director, lack of gear, unknown locations, and much more. This is exactly what Profoto did to some four photographers who were asked to only take their camera to a secret location.
There are four photographers involved. Erik Johansson strives to bring surrealism into his work. Martina Wärenfeldt creates magazine-style fine art portraits. David Bicho is a light guru who can create any light anywhere. Molly Barber is a conceptual photographer who brings drama and feminine power to her images.
With four different tasks to complete, each will race to create an image under the harshest conditions a photographer may find themselves in. Erik will have to create an epic image of a male model. Martina has to capture the character of a bright young magician who is in jail. David is tasked to mix his light with lasers and take an action-packed talent shot. Lastly, Molly will have only 90 minutes to transport her to the 1940s and create a dramatic yet classical hotel portrait.
Naturally, each of the four photographers knows light inside out and has experience being in different situations over the years; however, Profoto says that even pros like Molly, David, Martina, and Erik found the challenges to be, well, challenging. So, who escaped and who failed? Check out Profoto’s website!
For the past decade modern cinema has opted for the orange and teal color grade to provide a wonderfully cinematic feel, and thanks to the new tools in Lightroom you can turn your shots into cinematic masterpieces, too.
In photography, many of us are trying to achieve an image that resonates with audiences. We want something atmospheric that stands apart from the run-of-the-mill snaps that so many people take. One way to create that moody, cinematic effect is through the use of color grading.
Color grading refers to the technique used to stylize colors in particular images or videos. That is, to impart specific colors onto an image to alter its original make-up. That’s what I’ll be doing today in Lightroom Classic. Using the Color Grading tool in the Develop module I’ll be adding an orange and teal grading scheme that is so commonplace in contemporary movies. If you’re unsure of what that looks like, just think of films like Iron Man, Transformers, or Tron Legacy. If you still don’t believe me, have a read of this Guardian piece on the color grading craze.
Below I’ll walk you through every step to achieve the orange and teal effect in Lightroom and then show you how to refine the processing so that it feels even more cinematic, setting things apart from the everyday snap. This process works best with raw files so try your best to shoot in raw in order to make this effect work effectively. If not, JPEGs will do fine you just may not have as much versatility when it comes to color correction. I chose this shot of downtown Tokyo because of the bright lights, the gorgeous reflections, and the ton of color that appears all throughout the frame.
Start by Adjusting the Shadows
After importing my photo into Lightroom Classic I headed to the Develop module and scrolled down to the Color Grading panel. From here there are three color wheels that display in a triangle. The top wheel controls the midtones, and the bottom two control shadows and highlights respectively. To make changes to the wheels all you have to do is click and drag the selector within the wheel to change hue and color saturation.
I started with the shadows as I find it’s easier to build up a foundation of color before tweaking highlights. This works especially well in this image because my photo is mainly dark because it was shot at night. I clicked and dragged in the shadows color wheel until I reached a sufficient teal hue to the shadows, I didn’t want to saturate the shadows too much though because I still needed to apply my other color grades.
Next, Warm up the Highlights
Since the other prominent part of my scene was bright highlights I decided to affect this next. In the highlights color wheel, I clicked and dragged until my selector was far in the orange, towards the most saturated corner in the top-right. I did this because the highlights were a little weaker than the shadows and so to get the orange hue I needed to make them very saturated.
Control Those Midtones
I felt that the teal hue in the shadows was overpowering the image a little, so in order to correct this, I decided to add a little red and orange to the midtone color wheel. This lifted slightly brighter areas without subtracting from the cooler shadow tones in the frame. Notice how little I’m adding here, that’s because in this scene it has a big effect on how warm the over image is. By pushing it much further the frame would be mainly orange, so striking a good balance between the colors now will help achieve the best final result.
Blend and Balance
Now that I’ve got my color hues and saturation amount set in the color wheels it’s time to move to the sliders underneath. The blending slider will control the overlap between the three color wheels. The lower the slider amount (down to 0) the harsher the cut-off between the three color bandwidths, though it never becomes entirely harsh as there is still some residual overlap built into the tool. Throw the slider all the way to the right (100) and all three wheels overlap entirely, which provides a good soft blend but can become a little muddy for some scenes. In my photo I found a blending setting of 21 to be the best, it provided a good separation of tones between each wheel yet was still soft enough to make the scene look natural
The balance slider simply controls where the midtone range lies. Push it to the left and the midtones will be marked in the darker portions of your scene, and slid to the right it will control lighter tones. This balance is useful to manipulate the boundary between shadows and highlights as it is moved left or right. Since the shadows were already quite overpowering in this scene I moved the balance slider to 14.
Add a Final Curves Adjustment
Just as you would polish a piece of wood to finish it, so too must we finish our photograph to give the desired look. I decided that I wanted to enhance that cinematic, atmospheric effect even further by lifting the darkest sections of my scene so that the shadows were muted, giving it a matte effect.
To do this I scrolled up to the Tone Curve panel and raised the shadows point in the bottom-left of the histogram up slightly, held against the left wall of the graph. This changed the darkest blacks to a more muted gray but it’s important to remember that any change you make to the histogram’s control line will have a knock-on effect throughout the shot. My highlights were a little underwhelming now so I brightened them slightly by dragging the highlights control point in the top-right corner of the box to the left so that the line now fell more or less parallel to the original baseline in the box.
Once you have some experience with the color grading panel in Lightroom it’s relatively straightforward to recreate the orange and teal effect across almost any image. It can be a little tricky to stylize a selection of photographs together though, especially if they have very different lighting. But with a little tweaking and some careful balancing, it can be done quite quickly. Of course, it’s not just the orange/teal effect that color grading is great for, it’s also useful for some fantastic stylized effects for any number of color combinations.
Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg has been creating timelapses of different fungi over the course of the last 15 years as part of his film Fantastic Fungi. In a video with Wired, he explains how he creates these epic sequences.
Fantastic Fungi is a 2019 film directed by Louie Schwartzberg that has been recently added to Netflix. Schwartzberg describes it as “a consciousness-shifting film” that takes viewers on an immersive journey through time and scale into the wild world of fungus that lives underground and is connected in a network that some argue can heal and save the planet. In it, Schwartzberg shows the vast variety of fungus, from those that are edible to those that kill, and from mushrooms that can clear oil spills to those that help trees communicate.
Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors like Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions that fungi kingdom offers in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.
In an interview with Wired, Schwartzberg reveals that he doesn’t create the sequences in his timelapses in ways that most people expect.
“I think the biggest surprise for people watching the film is that they think it’s all filmed outdoors,” he says. “There are a lot of reasons why you can’t film timelapses of plants and fungi outdoors. Number one: there is wind, which would make the object shake and rattle and look like a Charlie Chaplain movie. Number two: there are bugs and other elements that would interfere with filming.”
Schwartzberg says that in order to make his dreamy sequences, the light has to be constant. Outdoors — even during the day — the light fluctuates. In order to fully control his shots, he built a studio on top of his garage. Even in a controlled environment, getting his shots is complex and time-consuming.
“I am shooting one frame every 15 minutes, that means I’m shooting four frames an hour, times 24, is 96 frames. 96 frames is four seconds of film,” he explains.
Schwartzberg has a custom intervalometer that not only triggers his camera but also his grow lights as well as his photo lights, which he uses to create his scenes. He is able to program the lights to mimic different times of day. The reason he needs to have his grow lights connected to the intervalometer is that he needs to simulate a real environment. If the lights are on all the time, for example, the mushrooms will die.
Because the mushrooms are always expanding during their growth, Schwartzberg has to imagine his composition and framing before they rise out of the ground, which complicates the process further.
“I would say roughly the ratio of success to failure is about one out of six, maybe one out of ten,” he says. “It’s extremeluy difficult to do.”
Lens filters are useful for achieving a variety of photographic effects in camera, such as long exposures of moving subjects. But did you know you can achieve the same great results with Photoshop CC?
Neutral density filters are great for darkening the whole of your frame when shooting, either to allow for wider apertures in bright situations or to extend shutter speeds when wanting to shoot long exposures of moving subjects. For example, a 6-stop ND filter might make it possible to shoot a 30-second exposure even while shooting during the day.
But what happens when you stumble across the perfect scene but don’t have your filter with you? Or perhaps you just wish you could put that same long exposure effect on an image you’ve already taken. Luckily for you, it’s relatively simple to do this in Photoshop CC using basic editing techniques you probably already know. So, follow along below to discover how to do it yourself.
1. Select Your Scene
I took this shot of a sunset in the rolling Cotswold hills in the UK a while back. At the time, I didn’t have my ND filter with me. I saw the clouds were doing something special, though, and took a snap all the same. Looking at it now, I realize it would benefit from some long exposure movement in the clouds. So I started by first importing the photo to Photoshop CC. Once open, I went to the Quick Selection tool (W) and used the click and drag method to select the entire sky.
Be careful when using the keyboard shortcut for this tool, as there are three different options nowadays: Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and Object Selection. I used the Quick Selection tool because Magic Wand was a little too selective given the tones I have in the clouds, and there is no real object to speak of to use Object Selection. But, you may find one of the other tools works better for your photo.
2. Zoom in and Refine
Though the sky selection process was simple and it seemed to do a good job, I was aware that there were distant mountain ranges and hills that were much more subtle due to the haze in the sky. I zoomed in (press Z to select the Zoom tool, then click and drag to the right) and noticed that the Quick Selection tool did, in fact, miss these areas. So, I held Alt and deselected the mountains so that only the sky had a marching ants selection around it. Alternatively, you can just click the Remove Selection button in the toolbar at the top of the window. Adjust your selection until only the sky is highlighted.
3. Duplicate the Layer
Arguably, you could do this step first, but I like to include it now after I’ve already made my selection, because sometimes, I prefer to just duplicate the selection first. For demonstration purposes, though, it’s easier to show you how to mask effectively in the coming steps if we duplicate this layer now (it also makes it future-proof should you notice a mask wasn’t exact in the first place). To duplicate the layer, right-click on it in the layers palette and click Duplicate Layer.
4. Add a Mask
Now that you have your duplicated layer (appearing above the original imported “background” layer), click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the layers palette to apply the mask. Zoom out to fit the window by pressing Ctrl + 0 and then hold down Alt and left-click on the eye icon to the left of the layer; this will make only that layer visible. Take some time to look over the mask and check for any inaccuracies in the selection process. If you notice anything drastic, hit Ctrl + Z a few times to undo until you get back to the marching ants selection and use the above steps to refine it.
5. Come on and Blur it Up
It’s now time to add the blur effect. With the image thumbnail selected on the newly masked layer, head to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur. I prefer to use the Zoom blur method as this is most realistic when matching up with real-life long exposure effects (clouds generally blow in just one direction, not circling as they move as you might get using the Spin method).
I also like using the best quality option because, well, why wouldn’t you want the best if you have time for it to process? I’ve used a heavy blur amount here, set to +83, but you may want to experiment with this depending on how intense you want the effect to be. The last step is to pay attention to that little white example box on the right; from here, you can click and drag the middle focal point to wherever you like. I placed it just above a beautiful hill with a small copse on top. That’s because I wanted the blurred lines to sort of point towards this area as I think it’s the most attractive part of the frame. This is another benefit of Photoshopping the effect rather than relying on filters and natural movement: you get to choose where the movement occurs and in which direction.
6. Time to Review
If you’ve made a good selection to start with and the blur filter is perfected, you should be pretty much done at this point. Occasionally, though, you might notice that the gorgeous radial filter you added may have unintentionally lifted some of the background colors or shapes into the blurred section. I purposely did this to show you how to get rid of it (do you believe me?), as it’s relatively simple. Let’s zoom in and take a closer look at the problem.
7. Refine That Mask
Now zoomed in, I can see that the edge of the horizon was just being dragged into view in the affected layer because I had set the intensity amount of the radial filter so high. It’s a simple job to fix, though. Just click on the layer mask and use your brush tool (B) to paint away the ghosting effect. Don’t forget: white reveals, black conceals. If you want to see where you’re painting while doing this, hit the key on your keyboard to reveal the red layer mask.
Now that I’ve refined that layer mask. the mix between blurred and original layer is now indistinguishable. The effect, though not natural, is quite realistic, and the benefit is that I can do this with as many different photos as I like. It’s also customizable, so I can increase or decrease the intensity in any photo I choose. Also, the direction and placement of that radial focal point is interchangeable, so you can create perfect long exposures every time, no matter the composition or subject placement.
Adobe Photoshop is one of the deepest pieces of software in our industry and mastery of it is all but impossible. In this tutorial, learn how to create a convincing hologram effect for some creative edits of your images.
It doesn’t matter what your primary use of Adobe Photoshop is, you will probably find yourself with tunnel vision in terms of the tools that you use and techniques you need. It doesn’t take long before you fall into a routine with your post-production and the bulk of your images are completed with a small pool of functions.
When I first started with Photoshop in my early teens, I wanted to make digital art and so I learned a lot of techniques similar to what this video creates; niche, singular effects for specific projects. What I found, however, was that the more tutorials I followed and the more techniques I learned, the more ideas I had with regards to combining and adjusting effects.
This tutorial by Aaron Nace of PHLEARN walks you through how to turn an ordinary image into a hologram effect. This is perfect for cyberpunk or sci-fi composites and digital art pieces, and is achievable with surprisingly low effort and time required.
As many of us have been confined to our own homes, there has been a sharp rise in people looking for other revenue streams attainable from their own house. Here is how to create a budget lighting setup to make your YouTube videos look more professional.
Continuous lighting used to be rather tricky. Before the advent of LED lighting, they were expensive, cumbersome, thirsty, hot, and generally difficult. However, over the last decade or so, we have seen an influx of excellent LED lights that are both cheap, small in form, and easy to set up, all while often having control over the color and temperature.
In this video, Peter Lindgren walks you through how he lights his talking head videos in his studio, and you may be surprised at just how cost-effective and easy this solution is. As an Editor here at Fstoppers, I obviously consume an ungodly amount of content in and around photography, particularly YouTube videos. Of all the channels I watch on a daily basis, I would put Lindgren’s in the top five in terms of image quality. His lighting setup looks complicated at first; there are different colors, rim lights, key lights, and so on. But, as you can see in this video, it’s far easier to recreate than it looks.
The key light for Lindgren is the popular Nanlite PavoTube 15C 2′ RGBW LED light and costs $200. This is then supplemented with smaller versions of the same light, to great effect. You may be able to create a similar style for cheaper, but for an RGB LED tube light that can reach such power, $200 is a steal.
Focussed on the sharp, perfectly composed, and exposed shot? Why not try Intentional Camera Movement or multiple exposures to create something unique. You may quite like it.
Most of us as photographers are looking for sharp, perfectly composed and exposed images. It is what we are taught or have learned and so, therefore, try to achieve. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to change this up a bit. Intentional camera movement is exactly that, intentionally moving the camera when taking the shot to produce a creatively blurred image using longer shutter speeds. Multiple exposures are where you set the camera to take a series of multiple shots of the same scene or of varying scenes and elements to make up the resulting image. Your camera’s menu settings should allow you to do this. But if not, there’s a three-step tutorial below.
Intentional Camera Movement
At the time of taking these images, my longest focal length for shooting was the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Lens, so all have been captured at 70mm. The longer the focal length, the shorter exposure required, plus the movement registers more quickly. The wider the lens, the longer the exposure and less movement recorded. You can also add an ND3 stop if conditions allow or depending on the type of effect you are seeking. Most of the exposures shown have shutter speeds of between 1/2th and 1/8th second. My choice of aperture for these was f/5.6, as I wanted slight clarity in any areas with little movement. The final effect you achieve will be up to you and will depend on the conditions when shooting. More blur, longer shutter. Another note I’d like to make is the tonality of the images shown. This is my choice to edit them with these similar tones, as I feel it complements the images and the dreary weather we get here. Plus, I’m a big fan of the artist J.M.W Turner and his works. You can opt for vibrant foliage and flowers or sunsets. It’s entirely up to you.
Some photographers may tripod their shots and lock off any direction of movement that they do not wish and then take the shot. Think vertical panning of trees and horizontal panning of seascapes.
However, if you handhold the shots, there are multiple directions you can move in; just don’t drop your camera! Flick your wrist, drop your wrist, spin, pan vertically or horizontally while rotating. Add a zoom blur while moving, though takes a bit of practice. All are fun to try, and all will produce varying results. Plus, there is nothing to say that during the editing process you can’t combine multiple exposures to get another unique image. It’s totally up to you.
You will also find a great article and techniques on shooting intentional camera movement here by photographer and Fstoppers writer Jason Parnell-Brookes
Your camera’s menu should allow you to take multiple exposures of a scene, but if not, keep reading, as I have a brief tutorial on how to achieve similar results below. What I normally do when shooting these is set my camera to aperture priority, although manual works just as well, with the aperture being around the f/8 mark. My Nikon allows me to take up to 10 multiple exposures in an overlaid sequence, shown in the viewfinder, before creating the final JPEG. The in-camera blend mode is set to average. Please note if you are thinking of trying this, shooting in JPEG and not raw will save processing time in the following tutorial. I don’t refocus between images.
Most of the movements I make are only quite slight, overlapping, moving up or down, and rotating slightly. When rotating, I try to imagine a fixed center point of the scene in my viewfinder. I also find that higher-contrast scenes or scenes with varying colors produce better results. These images were photographed using the Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 Z Lens for Nikon Z.
Smart Object Blending
If you choose to shoot these singularly instead of in-camera, try to visualize the rotation point of the previous image and don’t keep checking the playback. Smaller movements will result in better images I have found. As I mentioned the Z 7 records 10 multiple images and displays/overlays them in the viewfinder when I shoot, as will most cameras nowadays. It also records them as individual files, and this is what this tutorial is based on.
First, select all your images in Lightroom and then right-click, open in Photoshop as layers.
Next, in Photoshop, select all your layers and convert them to a Smart Object. Don’t auto-align here, as we want them to be as you shot them.
Once this has been completed, go to Layer- Smart Objects – Stack Mode – Meanm and let Photoshop do the rest. Remember if the images are raw files, this could take a minute or so. If you shoot in JPEG, the time will be much shorter.
The resulting image is in Photoshop.
From here, just go on to edit your image however you want. Below are both the in-camera image and the resulting Smart Object image using the tutorial above. Yes, there are differences, but you get the idea.
For myself, these techniques were born out of necessity due to one of my dogs being so impatient when out with the camera. I enjoyed shooting when out walking, just recording a scene or location that I would perhaps come back to. However, one of my dogs, Inca, had other ideas and would get up to all sorts of mischief when I stopped to shoot. So, to keep an eye on her and shoot, I would keep walking and do intentional camera movement on the move. She’s a lot better now, and now, I can stop for five minutes or so and do whatever I feel the scene dictates.
If you’ve tried intentional camera movement and multiple exposures, you’ll know that they can be quite rewarding at times and produce something unique. Plus the bonus is that you’re not so caught up with focusing and exposure effectiveness. I’m looking forward to trying multiple exposures with architecture when I head to the city.
If you haven’t tried it, give it a go; it can be fun and breathe a new dimension into your photography.
A studio still life shot that features a splash, a bit of flash and excellent timing has won our ‘Photo of the Week’ (POTW) title and a Samsung EVO Plus 64GB MicroSDXC card with SD Adapter, courtesy of Samsung.
Simply titled ‘Splash!‘ the image, captured by ePz member robhillphoto, is an excellent example of how fun and creative splash photography can be. We love the detail in the water drops as well as the tones with the blues and orange of the bulb complimenting each other nicely. The composition is great as is the timing and we really like that there’s interest above and below the waterline. It’s just an all-around great image that’s a great example of how a simple still life can have real impact – we love it.
All of our POTW winners receive a Samsung EVO Plus 64GB MicroSDXC card with an SD Adapter courtesy of Samsung. To be in with a chance of becoming our next POTW winner, simply upload an image to our gallery where you’ll also find all of our past POTW winners.
Plus, going forward, we will also announce a new ‘Photo of the Year’ winner who’ll win a Samsung Portable SSD T7. Each POTW winner, 52 in total, will then have their image shared in a new POTW forum where, in January 2022, we will ask you all to hit the ‘like’ button on your favourite images. Then, the ePHOTOzine team will count up the likes and our first ‘Photo of the Year’ winner will be announced.
Lightning can be a fantastic way to add a bit of drama to a landscape image, though it takes some technique to capture those fleeting moments. This fantastic video tutorial will show you how to photograph and create time-lapses of lightning.
Coming to you from Brent Hall, this great video tutorial will show you how to photograph and create time-lapses of lightning. Most storms occur in the afternoon and move from southwest to northeast, so you will want to consider your position. If you want a darker, moodier look, you will want to be ahead of the storm to get the sun behind it, while if you want a brighter look, you will want to be behind the storm to allow the sun to light the clouds and landscape. All that being said, remember that lightning is highly dangerous, and you should exercise due caution at all times, including avoiding standing in an open field or under an isolated, tall object. Also, keep in mind that other hazards include heavy rain and flooding, hail, high winds, and occasional tornadoes. I like to set my camera on a tripod and use a remote release while I sit in the safety of my car. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Hall.
Artificial lights and modifiers can quickly add up in cost, but you might be surprised by just how much you can accomplish with only speedlights and basic modifiers. This excellent video tutorial will show you how you can produce professional-level portraits using just speedlights.
Coming to you from Mark Wallace with Adorama TV, this great video tutorial will show you how to light and shoot professional portraits using speedlights and basic modifiers. Dedicated monolights or pack and head systems offer the most power and versatility when it comes to artificial lighting, but the advantages of speedlights are that they are more portable and far cheaper, making them ideal for a beginner who is looking to learn the fundamentals of light, particularly if you are shooting indoors and do not need to worry about trying to overpower the sun. Plenty of photographers continue to work with speedlights even as they become more advanced. Wedding photographers frequently employ them since they are more portable and easily moved from location to location on a busy day. You can get a nice third-party speedlight kit with a few modifiers for under $200, so grab yours and start learning! Check out the video above for the full rundown from Wallace.
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