Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Make a Portrait A Little Different

Everybody tries to do something different with a senior portrait (little play on words, she actually is a "senior").  Today's image is a simple way to add a twist to any portrait.  It's a three step process that isn't without a hiccup or two.  One of the big things is "fair use".  The song is (was) copyrighted at the time it was written.  There's a notation in the lower right that says "do not photocopy".  The question comes from the purpose of making a photocopy.  It's a song.  The purpose of the sheet music is to allow people to play the music or sing the song.  As such, if I were the person or group using the sheet music to produce music is some way I'd agree that the orchestra shouldn't make fifty copies of the sheets and pass them around with either buying fifty sets or getting a license to use that says they can copy the sheets for the purpose stated in the license.  I agree with that 100%.  The way the sheet is used in today's image there is no way anyone could either sing the song or play the melody.  The background image is strictly a backdrop for the portrait.  It's an element of a photographic composition, not of any musical use at all.  Another thing I wouldn't do, although it would be extremely easy, is remove the "do not photocopy" caveat.  To do so could be perceived as an attempt to fool someone.  There are other things that could also be done.  The words could be stripped out, the lines of notes could be cut and pasted into a different order, the title could be replaced.   I don't believe anyone could come to the conclusion that, by using an image of the sheet music, I'm violating the intended purpose of copyrighting the material in the first place.  That said, to find out more about "how" the final image was made, hit the "read more".
The first thing needed is a piece of sheet music. It's actually getting harder to find pieces of sheet music. I had to visit several music shops to finally come up with sheet music for the song I wanted. It was in a song book, which meant it had to be cut or torn out of the book. That left a jagged edge that had to be dealt with. The sheet was scanned and brought into Adobe Photoshop CS5. Hitting Ctrl/Shift/I (eye) inversed the image and produced black "paper" with white writing on it. This made cleaning up the ragged edge easy. A slight bit of canvas was added (Image/Canvas Size - Relative - Push to the left) and the Canvas Extension Color set to Black. The overall size of the sheet was narrower than what was needed for the typical 16" X 20" print. The size was changed using Image/Image Size with the Constrain Proportions turned off. Changing the aspect ratio didn't hurt the notes or lettering, so, no harm, no foul.

The portrait was a normal rectangular image brought into composition. It's size was slightly smaller than needed, so Free Transform (Ctrl T) was used to enlarge it to fit. A word of caution: over using Free Transform to enlarge an icon can degrade the image quality. Slight adjustment are no problem, but massive changes will wreck an image. The Circular Marquee Tool (M) was used to create an oval around the subject. The Selection was feathered (Shift F6) to create a soft transitional fade. A specific amount of feather depends on the size and resolution of the image you're working on. With a Selection made and softened a Layer Mask was applied. Doing it this way produces a Mask without needing to additional work. Using a Mask allows the image to be moved and, with the chain link turned off (click on the link between the image and the Mask turning it off or back on) the image or mask can be moved around independently of each other.

If necessary, use Free Transform (Ctrl T) to tweak the size of the inset. You probably don't need to apply any sharpening or a vignette. My "rule of thumb" is not to sharpen a women who's out of their teenage years. (In fact, a little Blur probably does more good than any sharpening ever could.)