Archive for April, 2012

Danni Manga (or Danime)

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I’ve been spending a lot of my free time lately trying to move my Photoshop skills forward. Part of that is picking up some additional reading material in the form of Photoshop magazines.  A couple of months ago, one of them had a fairly detailed tutorial on how to modify a portrait to make it look like a Japanese animation character.

Being a fan and really liking the look of the end result in the article, I thought I’d give it a try.  My initial intention was to get a shot of Jo in a standard, well lit portrait position and try to work on that, but I completely forgot during our shoot. Fortunately for me, I have a lovely, understanding and best of all: photogenic wife who was willing to step in.

I spent about 20 minutes getting the lighting set up and just right for the look I wanted. It was fairly standard lighting, but made tricky by the fact that I wanted a large light slightly overhead for the catch lights in the eyes and I don’t have much room in our low ceiling flat. We managed just by getting Danni to sit fairly low.

My intention was to show the before & after image as it’s quite a transformation, but the before image was kiboshed by my (at the time) non-make-up wearing wife.  Anyway, that’s a fairly long preamble for a single image so here it is.

 Manga Danni!

It’s very possibly the longest amount of time I’ve spent processing a single image, but I’m quite happy with the result. There are still a couple of minor things I want to fix before I post it to my 500px account (namely some patchy skin), and I’ll re-upload the fix here when I’m finished but I was getting too impatient to post the image to wait any longer.

The idea was to do an additional image of myself, but after the amount of time it took to complete this one that may not happen.  We’ll see.

Thanks again to my lovely wife for modeling, as well as providing feedback on the image as I was working on it. I don’t usually like having a back seat Photoshopper, but in this case her opinions proved invaluable and contributed greatly to the final image. Xie Xie Lao Po!

Update – I’ve finished the changes and uploaded the final copy to my 500px portfolio.

Springtime Daffodils

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

After a lot of planning and a few models falling through, Rob and I finally managed to arrange a springtime photo shoot.  We had a loose idea of a few images we wanted to do and after a quick scout of the area (near Ashdown Forest) we met up with our model for the day, Jo.

Our first stop was Chidingstone Castle, which had some lovely grounds and lots of early blooming flowers. It was rather open to the elements and the day was cold and windy, so we fired off a few ‘standard’ shots here and moved on to the next location in fairly short order.

I’d had a couple of ideas for images I wanted to do on this shoot which is a bit unusual for me.  Generally speaking, when we go out shooting photos with models I just kind of wing it as each location is different as are the models.  Since we’ve been talking about this outing for a while, I had some time to envision a few images that were slightly more staged.  I even drew up some prototype sketches (which are embarrassing and won’t be shown here) of what I wanted to try.

This first is this image.  It’s fairly close to what I’d had in mind, with a couple of exceptions.  I’d hoped to have the ‘axe man’ smaller in the image so he appeared to be further away.  Unfortunately, even really stopped down he was blown away by normally welcome bokeh to the point where he just appeared to be a dark blob.  Also, my radio triggers were having issues with the distance for some reason even though we were well within their stated ranges.  The other issue I had was I was hoping for a brighter backlight, but this was down to just having a single flashgun firing off in the middle of the day.  I just didn’t think that one through enough.

This second planned image turned out ok, but looked quite different in my head. The clouds are a bit too dense to look realistic and I’m not 100% happy with how the light turned out.  It’s alright though as the whole thing was sort of a learning experience and anything that pushes my photoshop mojo (or lack thereof) is a good thing.

Not quite how I'd pictured it in my mind, but close.

These four shots are all of the images from the day, so no need for the usual gallery link.  We’re hoping to get out again before the end of the month to get some images in the bluebell fields.  I’ve been saying every year for the past five years that I’ll get out and shoot some bluebells, so fingers crossed for this year!