Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Q&A - The "Dave Hill" Effect

The Wednesday Q&A is a response to keyword searches that bring people to The Kayview Gallery.  In the past couple of months, not a day has gone by without one (or several) entry point to the gallery being something to do with "the Dave Hill Effect".   I've done a couple of posts about it in the past and there are photographers (or finishers) who do it much better than, but one thing I've noticed is that everyone has their own spin on it.  A simple search on YouTube comes up with more than 100 videos that refer to the effect.  Looking down through the list I see "my version", "slightly modified", "similar to", "my way" and on and on.  Seems like everyone has their version of what Dave Hill has made "famous".  If you're unfamiliar with Dave's work - follow this link to his site.  You won't be disappointed and you may just catch the Dave Hill bug yourself.  To get an idea of what I did to get "my version" of the Dave Hill Effect, hit the "read more".

One of the things I noticed in doing a little "research" for this post was that a lot of the folks doing their version of the "Dave Hill Effect" do (IMHO) way too much merging down the Layers of the image to go to the next step.  Since everything that goes on to create the effect is either a Filter or Blend Mode change I really don't understand why anyone would put up road blocks to making changes.  Every time you either Merge Layers or use the CASE (CTRL/ALT/Shift/E) method of producing a composite of the Layers you already have you make a point of no return.  You can't make a fundamental change without throwing away everything above the composite Layer.  Again, I my humble opinion, it's dumb. 
There's a reason Smart Objects are called Smart Objects.  It's a much more flexible way to work.  One of the examples I use to teach and that I've posted before is making an obvious mark (an "X" or the word "Mistake" on a Layer above the Background Layer and then finishing the image to the point of being ready to print.  It typically involves several Smart Objects consisting of everything I've worked on in a phase of working on the image.  It could be four or five Smart Objects nested one in another.  By having the end points be Smart Objects rather than composites of previous Layers I have the ability to go back to the original Background image, make any changes along the way and not disturb work that's been done anywhere up to the final "ready for print" image.
One thing I do is make many of my "Dave Hill" type images a little grittier by doing some Sharpening after applying the DH Effect.  It just makes it "my version", "slightly modified", "similar to", "my way".  I'll leave it up to you to take a look at a few of the YouTube tutorials about the Dave Hill Effect and come up with his unique method of achieving "the look".