Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Toning Down The Hot Stops With Adobe Photoshop CS5

Just had to put one more image in from last weekend's shoot in Roanoke Virginia.  The background on this image is that it's supposed to represent the glow in the cab when the fire box doors are open.  The "stoker" would have been shoveling coal and the engineer would be watching where he was going.  (Always a good thing.)  This image started out with a couple issues.  There was enough light on the exterior to bring up the detail of the numbers, but it also made the frame of the window (there is a small window used more or less to keep the wind off the engineer's face) and some of the banged up area of the plate in front of the numbers.  Basically nothing was done to the engineer.  Other than sharpening he is as he sat.  As can be seen, the engine is the C&O 614.  The temporary exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, titled "Thoroughbreds of Steam" goes on until the end of the month.  If you have a chance, stop by and see this wonderful tribute to the past.  While you're there, make sure you go to the other side of the tracks and visit "The Link Museum" to see some truly interesting shots of the end of the age of steam.  Okay, back to today's image.  The actor posing as the engineer had to sit still for minutes at a time to allow those shooting sufficient time for the long exposures needed.  To find out how today's image was shot and what was done to finish the image, hit the "read more".
First, about how the shot was taken. It's a night shot, that part should be fairly obvious. The setup was with continuous lights. That meant some long shutter speeds. The aperture was set to F 8 in order to get some reasonable depth of field. The camera was on a tripod and the shutter tripped by a remote (in my hand) trigger. The problem was that auto focus didn't work worth a darn. It just couldn't find anything in the dark. I also couldn't do enough exposure compensation to get a proper exposure in Aperture Priority Mode. The camera was set to Manual and test shots were made to zero in on the exposure I was looking for. In today's image that was three seconds @ F8. The actor was great, staying still for the time required. Focusing had to also be done manually. I shoot with a Nikon that has a "Live View" option. In order to get sharp focus the live view was enlarged using the zoom button (I did not zoom the lens, I used the "zoom" feather typically used during playback). I was able to get in close enough so I was focusing on things like the flaws in the actor's faces. So, with everything set I was able to get sharp images.

Photoshop work: If you're going to shoot in the dark, with lights (it doesn't matter if it's strobes or continuous lights, there will be hot spots. I wanted to be very accurate with the hotspots, so selections were made. Once the selection was made, a New Layer was made. The "target" area for the Clone Stamp Tool (S) can be from any Layer with the Sample All Layers box checked. By using a Selection the fill of the hotspot can be accurately controlled. The method of making the selection is not important. Whatever works for you should be used. I used a New Layer for each different color needed to match on area to be fixed. This is kind of a slow process, but it's worth the effort.

Once the small hotspots were attended to, the image was sharpened and a vignette applied. Today's image is more about tedium than grand adjustments. It's working the image.