Light Modification & Simple Compositing | Transcription
We’re combining techniques here, folks, which is appropriate, because this is the second to the last tutorial in this entire course, which is a bittersweet thing, I’ll be honest. I’m sure most of you are like, “No. It’s pretty much just a sweet thing,” but for me, it’s bittersweet. Actually, it’s pretty sweet for me, too. Whatever.
What we’re doing here is we are adding to existing light. We’re amping up the existing light to make our subject pop. We’re also modifying the quality of that existing light. We’re also doing simple compositing, because we need to put our light in a place where it’s actually in our frame.
Let’s go ahead and get started with this image. Now, we’re shooting out on the desert. We are shooting on the Sigma 120-300mm on my 5D Mark III. That is an F2.8 lens, folks. Do you know what that means? That means that that lens is absolutely freaking ginormous. You’ll also notice that I’m 1/100 of a second.
Do you remember the reciprocal rule from Photography 101 – hopefully, yes – when I was holding pipes and stuff? Yes? No? Whatever. Basically, reciprocal rule states that I need to make sure, as a rule of thumb … No, as a general rule. We don’t say “rule of thumb.” As a general rule that my shutter speed is the reciprocal of my focal length when I’m handholding the camera. This is just a general rule, of course, which means that if I’m at 300 millimeters, I should be at 1/300 of a second. I’m not.
I put the camera onto at least a monopod. Just another general rule. When you’re using freaking ginormous lenses like the 120-300mm F2.8, which I absolutely love, it’s heavy, folks. Your arms is going to be dying within two minutes of holding that lens up, so you need at least a monopod to put that thing on.
Don’t try and just buff it out. That’s my version of “tough it out” for people that have lots of muscles. Buff it out. Don’t try and do that. I don’t even have lots of muscles. I work out modestly, and I can’t hold that lens for more than two minutes. Just keep that in mind.
In Photoshop, we’re going to be doing simple composite, which means that if we want to make our lives easier in Photoshop, we need to achieve the same shot twice. To do that, we could do with a monopod, but then we’re going to have to do layering, and we’re going to have to try and align and match things up, because we’re not going to be able to get it perfect. To get it much closer, we’re going to put our camera onto a tripod.
One little note. Whenever you put a telephoto lens onto a tripod, you do not mount the tripod plate here. That would be silly. That’s what this guy is for. This is a tripod mounting ring. It comes with every single telephoto you purchase. You put the plate there, and you mount it there, because now, your camera is much better weighted.
If you hold it right here, it’s just going to droop and sag, and you’re going to end up breaking your tripods early, because you’re putting too much weight on the tripod. Not to mention you’re putting a lot of weight just on this little ring right here, which can’t be good for your camera either. Just a little tip there for you all, from me to you.
Let’s keep going. We have our camera up on the tripod. We have our MeFOTO Globe Trotter right there with our Sigma 120-300mm mounted up. We’re shooting at F4, 1/100 of a second, and ISO 200. We don’t really have to worry about sync, as far as my composition.
What I mainly want here is just to zoom in all the way, so I can compress the background and bring it up forward, or at least, give the illusion that the background is closer to my subject. We get that. We get these beautiful waves and so forth. We achieve a really nice ambient flash or an ambient exposure balance at this setting of 1/100 of a second, F4, ISO 200, and 5800 degrees Kelvin.
That’s beautiful. It’s great, but guess what? Our subject is a little bit on the dark side. Is she not? Now, not like Star Wars Dark Side, not like Jedi, Darth Vader, Dark Side, even though she is wearing black. She looks like a sexy Darth Vader on the middle of the desert, if there were such thing.
She is dark in a sense that she blends too much into the background. That sky is brighter than she is. Everything is brighter than she is. She’s just blending into the sand.
What do we do? I’ve got my good buddy, Trevor Dayley out there. In case you miss the previous videos with Trevor, he’s an incredible photographer. You guys should check him out. He’s one of the best wedding photographers in the world. Absolutely awesome. Fantastic guy. I’m going to be seeing him in like a couple of days, which is going to be rad, too, because we’re going to hangout and have a good time.
He’s good enough to count on his shoot, and he’s holding our big boom stick. With the boom stick, we have the Bolt VB-22. We’ve set-up with the Westcott Rapid Box. Finally, I can show you what I was talking about. You know how it saying that basically the head doesn’t quite fit into the Westcott Rapid Box. You can see that right here. You can see it bleeding out right there.
Actually, that bleeds out into the lens, and it causes a soft, very subtle blue blur or blue flare over in that left corner. It’s something to watch for. If your flashes are not completely seated correctly, in the modifier, either you put them in there incorrectly or you have a modifier that doesn’t fit them well. Either way, you need to make sure that you don’t have this issue.
That’s why I went to the SMDV one because it actually fit the bulk a little bit better than the Westcott. The Westcott’s designed for pocket strobes, not for medium strobes. For medium strobes, I ideally use the Profoto RFI, the 3ft. octa. We’re using that and we’re dealing with the flare. I know I’m going to be compositing anyway. As long as that flare is not over our subject, I’m okay.
All right. We shoot and we basically are lighting her with about one quarter to one-eighth power coming through that little octa with the fuchsia. What have we done? We’ve taken the sun, which is our primary light source in the first shot. We have not only amplified the existing light strength. This is, by the way, just right around dusk.
We have a very soft quality to the light because the main light source in this shot actually the sky and the sand and everything. It’s a large light source. By bringing the octa close to it, not only have we amplified the existing light, we’ve also modified the quality just a little bit. We have a little bit better shadow definition. We have a little bit more fall-off. It looks great. It looks really nice.
The only problem now is that we need to get Trevor out of there. What we do is we pop the shot with the light. Then I say, “Trevor, duck!” Then, he jumps down and then he hides behind the sand dune and he hides at least most of the head. The head was poking out and I’m like, “No worries. You covered it up enough. That’s good enough.”
Then, we once again do a simple composite in Photoshop, layer these two images. Where Trevor is, I just mask the background. If I have a flare, I just pull in the background, and that’s it. We end up with this final shot. All I did in this final shot in Photoshop is just basically remove some of the sand from the background that has a couple of basic lighting presets from the lighting preset system applied to this. That’s it.
Now, why did we shoot this overall composition and pose and everything? For the pose, you’ll notice that I have her standing again with the leg coming in. I have a knee jutting out of the slit in the dress. The reason for that is I want to show off the design of the dress. If we don’t have a leg sticking out of that slit, then we have not utilized the slit, folks. If I were a dress designer and I design a slit, I want to see the slit in my photograph.
If I were a girl wearing a dress with a slit, I’d want that to be present in the photograph. It’s part of what she’s wearing. It’s part of the fashion of this particular outfit. We have beautiful bracelets on there. I’m going across and holding on to that side, a great necklace. The shot is really more about the environment. We’re pulled back so far that you can’t really lot of those details.
What I do want to make sure that I maintain in the shot is just the shape and the form of her body. I want to see the form. I want to see shape. I want to see all that, and we can in this photo. You want to exaggerate in Photoshop, then by all means, go ahead. This is a beauty-type shot. This is a fine-art type shot.
To me, you can exaggerate this as much as you want. This is your artistic vision. It’s not about being morally correct in Photoshop. Is that even a thing? I know it’s a thing, but should that be a thing? I don’t think it should be a thing.
That’s how we can get to a fantastic image, an image where our subject pops off the background very simply, very quickly, with simple compositing along with adding in those previous steps. When you aren’t able to get the modifier out of the frame, don’t worry. Just do what we’ve taught you here. Get the camera up on a tripod. Shoot the shot with the light. Then shoot one quickly afterwards without the light or just hide the light until this doesn’t come out of the frame and so forth.
Remember that, for this scene, I had everybody walk behind the dune and then come up, so we don’t have tracks in there that I have to Photoshop out later. Make your lives a little bit simple. Think through a shot before you actually go and do.
Key tips for simple composites like this. Make your life easy. Get a tripod. Put the camera up on the tripod. That’s tip number one. Tip number two, make your life easy. Take the shot with the light and your plate shot without the light within a few seconds of each other so that the light stays consistent between shots. Otherwise, you have to expose your balance between them.
Number three, just ensure that there was not much, if any, movement between the two frames. Otherwise, once again, when you layer, you’re going to have to balance them out. You have to move and manipulate and shape things. Your masking becomes a little more difficult.
To make this a two-to-five-minute process versus a 30-minute process, it comes down to practice and just making sure that you refine the process in getting the right two images in camera. That way, it’s more simple in post.