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Content Aware really IS your friend!

Hey!

Yeah i know, off the radar again! I would love to say the reason for my blogging absence is due to being so mega busy that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day…etc…etc…

Fact is - i’ve been too lazy! Ok, a little bit busy too, but mainly lazy!

Anyhoo - as the title suggests, we’re going to touch a little on photoshop.

A couple of weeks ago I was over at Theater Oberhausen, doing a promo shoot for an upcoming production.

You’ll note, that yes, i have shot slightly less insane things.

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The above image is straight out of camera. You’ll not that we’re shooting inside a built set, within a larger hall. We were actually in the set building hall belonging to the theatre. No much room to shoot inside this wooden box, and a ton of natural light flooding in through the windows.

It needed to be a moody shot anyway, so killing the ambient light and bringing in flash was always on the cards. The biggest problem though was framing the shot. I shot with the widest glass i had - 17mm on a FF sensor - and had to hold the camera to my side against the wall, so i had no real idea what i was shooting.

Anyway, because of the constraints i had, this meant there would be a fairly heavy chunk of post production coming my way in order to keep this shot wide-looking, but having it look like were just in this stripy room!

The final image

The final image

Obviously, i’m not a genius, and don’t have hours and hours to spend bringing images through post production. But, the content aware tool is your friend. Selecting parts of the image that are outside of our little ‘room’, and using the CA fill, really does help to speed up the process. In most cases, it’s pretty accurate in expanding the background.

There’s obviously going to be some imperfections to the background, but they can be tidied up using the clone stamp tool, and with some creative (and fairly liberal) use of dodge, burn and vignette, the image came up good!

Here’s another example:

Note the wall to the right of the finished image also came through CA Fill successfully

Note the wall to the right of the finished image also came through CA Fill successfully

Content aware is a fairly simple thing to use: use lasso, patch, pen tool, selection brush - whatever you prefer to select an area - hit delete, select content aware, hit enter - job done! There may be some fixing to do afterwards, particularly with busy images, however, the hit-rate is pretty good!


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So, this wasn’t really meant as a photoshop tutorial, but whatever! Thanks for reading!

Until next time!

Ant

Behind the Image

Hi, 

It's been a couple of weeks, and as i said in a previous post, i will be writing about my recent shoots with Theater Oberhausen, producing the imagery for their 2018/19 programme.

Well, here comes the first in that series.

The shoot for the theater's new programme involved photographing the permanent cast of the theater in various situations, performing 'other jobs' in the local area. We visited a hospital, funeral parlour, and a kiosk, to name just a few locations.

Most of the shoots were carried out at night, in order to take a look in to what people are doing while the rest of us sleep.

Midnight pizza

Midnight pizza

These shoots presented of course one major challenge; darkness. Something that can be overcome with knowing what you're doing, and a little trickery with lights here and there.

One of the most challenging shoots however was the team photo. All the men and women who work behind the scenes at the theater, who of course deserve their place in the programme, joined by some of the cast who were around on the day.

Photographing 50 plus people and making it look interesting isn't so easy. 

Thankfully, Franca, who i mentioned in a previous post, was on hand with some ideas and some sharp organisational skills!!

The plan was: use the main stage in the theater, bring some props in, and get everyone to lie on the floor in some kind of organised way so it looked like they were doing their usual jobs - or somewhere close!

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From a technical point of view, figuring out how to photograph the stage from directly above was a bit of a sticky point.

Sending the camera up with the lighting rig was the simplest option. Then firing the camera remotely. 

Gaff tape and cable ties. A dream combo!

Gaff tape and cable ties. A dream combo!

Instead of using cables to connect the camera to a computer to take the shot, i opted for using my reserve camera, a Canon 6D, and using it's wifi function to connect to my mac and take the shot. Easy right - wrong!

First, the proprietary software which Canon uses to tether the camera remotely is junk! The camera and computer can't see each other automatically like the camera can with Canons smartphone app.  You need to first set up an ad-hoc network on the computer, then try and force the camera to see it. 

When you are finally connected, the connection drops every few seconds. And you can't use more stable software like CaptureOne - or at least, i couldn't get it to work. 

The dropped connection of course could be due to the distance between camera and computer, around 15 meters; but once i had moved myself, and the macbook up into the rafters nearer the camera, the problem continued.

I tried my best to get as close to the camera as i could. This made communicating with the stage difficult.

I tried my best to get as close to the camera as i could. This made communicating with the stage difficult.

Franca meanwhile continued to coordinate things down on the stage, with me having to send a screenshot from the macbook over WhatsApp every few seconds. This was of course only possible while the connection to the camera was holding and i was able to see something.

Several test shots later, we were ready to go - and of course, the connection dropped again. Wi-Fi off, Wi-Fi on, close EOS utility, open EOS utility - you get the idea of what a struggle it was!!

We did however get there in the end, and managed to pull an image out with so many things to look at! 

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The image features on the inside cover of the new programme, and can be checked out online here!

There'll be more stories about the rest of the shoots coming in the coming weeks! 

Until then... :)

Product review - Saal Digital Fotobuch

A couple of weeks back, i received an e-mail from Saal Digital asking me if i wanted to take part in an offer to review one of their products.

I took them up on the offer of a photo book up to the value of €40. It's free, so why not.

After they approved me, i received an offer code to use on their website. The €40 covered the cost of a standard 26 page hardback book, with padded cover and delivery.

Creating your book should potentially be straight forward. Downloading their software was of course easy, and the software itself is full of templates for various designs. The designs are fairly standard. Baby, family, holiday, etc etc.

I went for a completely empty template which is where i had some issues. Photos could be easily aligned with each other on opposite pages (you know, blue lines pop up when the photos are level with each other), however, on following pages you can't line photos up to the photos on previous pages, or at least i couldn't find out how to do it.

The outside padded cover

The outside padded cover

 

Delivery was quick. I ordered Wednesday night, and the book was dispatched the following day, arriving Saturday morning.

 

All in all, a decent product. Although a little expensive, the quality is very good.

*i ordered a standard sized A4 hardback with a padded cover and matt paper.

 

 

 

 

 

Shooting Product

Ever wondered how online sellers get their products to look almost like they've been CGI'd on to a white background, almost like they're floating?

Well, here's an example of how it really happens!

This image appears on a friends online shop:

The above image is directly out of the camera - no Photoshop, no sorcery (except for the text of course!).

...and here is how the magic happens...

This is what i used to achieve this image:

2 pieces of white card, 1 piece of glass from an old A4 picture frame, 3 speedlights, some transparent wire (fishing wire or something similar), a table and something to hold the wire. Of course, you need the camera, tripod and product itself!!

Here's the set-up, complete with 15 month old assistant:

So, there you have it! Not as technical as you'd probably think!

The biggest challenge is eliminating shadows. But that can usually be achieved by blowing your background out with flash. If however, you're not working with a white background, then it's going to be a bit more of a challenge! But, like in this situation, once you have you scene and your settings right you can wheel product after product in front of the camera and shoot away!

The main thing is - have fun!!

 

Until next time!

Should anyone want to send me a present...

mmmmm... dampness

mmmmm... dampness

Well there it is! The Karma (Sutra). A new drone from GoPro, along with a new camera, the Hero5 were unvield to the public yesterday afternoon!

It flies, it folds, it looks awesome, and it may well have the guys over at DJI worrying!

Apeman is now officially looking for a review copy of this sucker! 

Aerial photography is something that i've been wanting to get in to for a while. The problem is the cost of quality equipment is somewhat prohibitive. For what i shoot, concerts and cars from time to time, such a piece of kit would open up a whole new world and put me ahead of the competition! I need something like this in my life!

Gopro....if you're listening - i have the camera ready to roll for a review!! :)