Hello again! I’ve receive a lot of very positive feedback about my photo The Witch, and a lot of people asking about the post-processing techniques I used, especially for the background, so I thought I’d let ya’all in on the secret
First I’ll start off with the taking of the photo itself. The model is the wonderful and talented Jayla Murray (MM# 682126). And this shoot had 3 “firsts” for me. The first “first” was working with a clothing designer, in this case the amazing Kristine Hawthorne (MM# 375252). My second “first” was having a Make-Up Artist (MUA) at the shoot. The amazingly talented (I really need a thesaurus!) Pamela Greico (MM# 1261319) came and helped us out. Seriously, this was such an amazing team, and I’m so happy to work with them, and desperately want to get them business!! They are all fantastic and professional, and talented. The third “first” was shooting in our Townhouse complex’s neven-used racquetball court. It’s a perfect shooting location. Large, high ceilings, and minimal outside light. I can’t believe I never thought to shoot in there before.
This shoot wasn’t without it’s great challenges though. Firstly, my second wireless trigger died on me, so I was forced into one-light setups, and adjusting the ceiling lights to control the ambient. For this shot I had my Vivitar 283 high up and bare to camera left on a stand. And this was the RAW file after fiddling with the tones/shadows/contrast in Camera RAW, and running a Smart Sharpen filter.
I then removed the dangling latch on the umbrella, and to add some pop and a bit of desaturation I utilized my Black & White layer (with Channel Mixer) in Soft Light Mode trick. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t bug you regular readers about how I do that. If you don’t know, you can learn about it out here.
This made my model’s clothes too dark. I wanted to lighten that back up, but I like the overal tone. So I quickly hid the Channel Mixer layer, did a Command+Option+E (copy visible into a new layer on a Mac) and then turned the Channel Mixer Layer back on. With this new layer below the Channel Mixer layer, I then did an Image -> Adjustments -> Shadow Highlight and played with the settings to get the right amount of detail in the clothing back. Now here’s where we’re at:
Now I added a Curves adjustment layer to add a bit more “pop” to it, and then to get some nice warmth I created a Photo Filter adjustment layer. I made the Filter a Sepia and adjusted the density to get it where I wanted it (in this case 45%). Then I turned this Photo Filter layer into Soft Light mode, and dropped the opacity down to 50%.
Now I turn my attention to the background. There are scuff marks on the walls (it’s a raquetball court, remember!) so I set about cloning out all the seams and scuffs in the wall so that I’m left with a “relatively” clean wall. Now comes the fun part. I created a new layer below my adjustment layers but above my model, made sure my foreground and background colors were set to default and did a Filter -> Render -> Clouds. Then I did a Free Transform, brought the clouds up to just below the wall and right-clicked on my transform box and went down to Perspective. Then picked one of the top adjument boxes and pulled it outwards to create a more “real sky” looking clouds. I then set the cloud layer to Multiply Mode, and adjusted the opacity down to 50%.
Then here comes the trick. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Radial Blur, click the Zoom radio button, and then I dragged the center of the Zoom Blur down to roughly where the model’s feet would be, and adjusted the Amount to about where I want it to be. Then I created a layer mask and painted black on the mask to cut my model out from the clouds.
As you can see, this makes the umbrella intollerably dark. To fix this, I created a new layer right above the cloud layer (still below my adjustment layers), set this new layer to Overlay Mode, and painted white on top. This acts as a fantastic “dodge/burn” layer. Paint white to dodge an area with the brush, paint black to burn an area. Use a brush with a low opacity (I generally try 30% and drop it from there if need be). Use a large, soft brush to that you don’t get hard lines.
Now we’re getting there! Now comes the truly fun part, the tentacles! (and who doesn’t like tentacles!)
Grab the pen tool, click the Paths box in the top box, and draw the line that will be the path of your tentacle (notice that I started outside of the top of the umbrella… I’ll get to that in a moment).
Then create a new layer, select a hard brush with a size that you want for the FATTEST part of the tentacle and black as the Foreground color. Then go into your Paths Pallette. You’ll see a Work Path selected. Right-click on that and select Stroke Path. Make sure the Brush is selected as the Tool, and that Simulate Pressure is checked.
Et Voila! Repeat until you’ve got as many of the little suckers as you want! Each one on it’s own layer so that you can delete and retry and rotate and position as necessary. Mask out bits to make it go “behind” the umbrella stem or her arm.
Finally, there’s too much detail in the under-side of the umbralla. To fix that I simply created a new layer and with a soft brush just painted in black to get rid of some of those metal struts of the umbrella, reducing the opacity to get a nice soft transition.
And that’s all she wrote! Hope you guys found this tutorial useful! Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or comments!