Combining Crash Images in Photoshop
This one is gonna be fairly quick. Because this we really took our time to be sure that we could have the ability to blend in. We didn't move the camera, I don't think.
We didn't, yeah, the camera stayed very still.
This is a quick thing. We knew every element that we need. We know where it is. And, it's a matter of just soft brushing it into Photoshop. So you're gonna see how quick this can be too. And not as tedious.
So I just, I pulled open capture one again. I just grabbed, you know, we had tagged all the frames as we went so we know what's up. You know, in my Word doc that I have running as I'm tacking the whole time, I've got our pancake shoot. And then I've written down the file number and what each and everything is. So, even if I didn't have the color tags, we come back in later, Steve has this doc file from Word. And he can say, oh, you know, 1718 is the second egg that we shot, that we liked but we weren't totally sure about. So, we process it out the same way as we di...
d the previous ones.
The egg bit tips. And we'll again, you know, close this file out in Photoshop. And load all the files into a stack. And the great thing is, since we haven't, we're real good about not moving the camera, I can check the automatically align source images button and there's less that a 50% chance that they're gonna go all over the place.
I think they do have the texture of the woodwork off a bit. Depends what it looks for. I don't know the algorithm for that but, I don't use it as much. I'll manually align. Maybe I shouldn't. I just, I love wasting time in Photoshop. Jack loves it.
I love wasting time looking at progress bars, so, it's sort of 50/50 on which one makes more sense.
Yeah, even this camera, this isn't even the most state-of-the-art camera. I love it. But, you're getting into 40 megapixel cameras and you need tons of disk space. I use g drives, not the Google drive, but the actual g drive arrays. So we have two of those. One I keep at home, which has four drives. And they're all copied. So I have eight separate copies of that. Or, probably less than that. Raid works a different way than that. But, we have two separate copies. One off site. One here. And then one in the computer at all times. So this stuff, our files are very well protected. So you can see just with the armature wires, we're loading these images. This is an easy job to clone these out.
Yeah, so I'm going through before I do anything else, forgetting how to spell pancake as I go, and writing down, renaming each layer to be exactly what it is.
I do like the flat egg. I think it shows off.
Yeah. I think it looks, it's a good shape. So, do you wanna end up putting this second egg in?
Yeah I do. If we can.
And you see, those are easy to cut out. Any shapes that have nice defined edges. Splashes are not. And that's something I'll, yeah that bacon's nice too. So you can see, when we flip from frame to frame there's no difference in exposure, there's no difference in camera movement. Everything is the same. And this is how I love to work in Photoshop. Really soft and really quick.
So here we've got our couple of layers of plate. And we're just not gonna worry about that quite yet. Let's get everything else blended together first. So, bottom pancake, we're gonna throw a mask at it. And we do see a little bit of armature wire here, which is gonna require a slightly more defined masking but we can stick with a real soft brush and,
Yeah, that's something you wanna avoid. That was our goal was to avoid the, is to avoid seeing the wire. But you'll see there's a little exposure difference between the two shots. I see that now.
Yeah, there's definitely, I don't know whether that'd caused by, you know, shadows from the plate or what. So let's just turn our original background plate, yeah, so there is a little bit of difference. And we can come back in and blend them.
So there is no flesh color that's perfect. These do, when you get into the lower, even the brown color has a little bit of exposure difference that I see. But pancakes are really easy to cut. We'll draw these out for time sake. But pancakes are something that I, especially even in this scene, there's an, there's a light edge around the pancake that you can actually just use the magic wand tool. And it'll know there's a pancake there. And then you can sort of refine the mask using the plus and minus, but, even when there is dark exposures with an image this simple it is easy to go around and just take care of business.
Yeah. So the retouching that we're doing right now is to give you guys a real good look at what our final image is. This is pretty much what I would be doing live on set for a client who is maybe unsure about exactly how a composited image is gonna turn out. So we'll put in some rough cut outs and let them take a look at what the final image is gonna look like before Steve has a chance to do his full post-processing on it and before the client needs to leave. So they can leave for the day feeling like Steve understands exactly what it is that they want.
And what I would assume, even though I don't see from frame to frame a lot of difference try this and see if it works. No, there's still a darker.
Yeah, there's still some difference.
That is odd 'cause that isn't usually how, they are within the ballpark. It would be very subtle usually. And I'm not sure what's causing that shadow. But it is, it's something we'll just have to blend by hand. Totally easy to do with a pancake too. It's not really the end of the world.
So, quick question while we're doing that, going back to the shooting, where did you set your focal point when there wasn't anything in the frame yet before you started to put elements into the frame?
Yeah, and this, and this is part of the process where you'll start to see any mistakes you made as far as focusing. But we focused, they're asking where we set the focal point. Every time we do, in fact, sometimes we'll actually put gaff tape on the, on the bottom of the surface or somewhere to show exactly where the depth of field is. So we, we, we calculate where the, where things end up being sharp in the front and have to be sharp in the back, and we'll tend to focus maybe a quarter into that, a quarter into that. So I'll actually put my hand there, and you'll focus on the hand. And make sure it's sharp maybe a quarter into the scene. So that way, there's at least some sharpness in the front. And then the fall off of the, you know, as it goes into frame you'll have actually more to work with as far as depth of field. Wherever the critical focus lies. That's really crucial because, here we, everything is perfectly sharp. It's really beautiful and there is no, there are no soft spots. But, anytime you have crashes that are going front to back you're gonna get blurred, blurriness all over the place. And you can't, you can't, there is not f stop deep enough to capture that. So I'm sure with the plate, when we get down to the plate we'll see some very blurry elements. And that's not because the flash duration was bad. It's because it just got too close to the lens. That's something you really wanna control. Nice looking egg.
So we could see on that, this third pancake here, if we look at the mask, it's a pretty rough soft mask. So this one, it's exposure was dead on with the background plate. So, we only had to do any complicated mask at all where the armature wire came out. Everything else was a really, really quick job. This one again, we have probably caused by the spatula, a little bit of shadow showing up.
The truth is, it's not necessarily, I run into this a lot, this is something you need to watch out if you're working alone. I'm wearing all black. Photographers love to wear all black. And, I need to stop doing it, because I wanna wear, I wanna start a clothing line for photographers called 50% gray. (audience laughing) And it, when you go, when I step anywhere near this I'm sucking up light wherever I go. It's just, I just suck life out of a room. (Steve laughing) So when I go, when I'm even near this, I could very well be causing my, the black I'm wearing probably actually blocked, sucked some of the light away from the background believe it or not, especially when you're working with strobe and you don't have this long exposure time, and light blending into everything. So this, it's usually not the flash. It's usually something you're doing. It's someone walking around the set. When you do stop motion, you see this all the time. Where you're, everything you have is in place and you're working, but the people who are moving the, the arm, you know, the pieces small, bit by bit, some are actually accidentally standing near the set in all black. And then in the next frame they backed away. So you see this little flicker of darkness that comes in. Same thing here. So it's, it was probably me and my dark clothes getting in the way of just a little bit of the light. And it does not take much. And so you see that. And that cam save you some work if you'll really step away from the set if you can. Or wear neutral. Maybe 40% gray, 'cause you don't want.
So on this piece of bacon because it's got so much contrast, I'm just using the magic wand to do a basic, a pretty basic select. It's got some interesting things going on with the contrast in the wood. And then I am going to feather that selection by two pixels so that when I fill it up with black we don't, our edge, you know, it's still not great. And we'll, we maybe wanted to feather a little bit further.
A little bit.
So I'm gonna undo that and go back in. And feather, maybe, let's go with maybe six pixels. And then fill with black. Eh, it's even worse.
But you're gonna see the wood. I mean we're seeing some of the wood.
I don't think it's an issue.
Yeah. Good call. So let's step back forward to where this was. And remember, and then realize that I forgot to actually turn a mask on. And that would explain why it looked so bad. And now we don't have that issue so much anymore.
Now if I, if this were a full cutout, I would actually use the liquefy tool, or the puppet work tool to actually bend this bacon. I think it would look really good if it had a little bit of an arch to it. I love gesture, and maybe even a little bit of an s-curve going on with it. A little more dramatic so it's not just a line. That's beyond the time that we're able to, that we're given for this. But, I think it would really benefit it. 'Cause it would bend. If there was a lot of force behind a piece of bacon it would bend a little bit.
So, so now, you know, we're looking at this piece of bacon and the egg, and they're kind of on top of each other. So that means our bacon was a little high.
But they're cut out.
But they're cut out. And it's, really easy to move these things around on this wood. So I just drag it down. Drag it over a little bit.
And shrink it. Can, you can transform, shrink it right?
Yeah. Shrink it up a little bit. I think it's a little big. That's good.
Shrink it down a little bit. Move it.
That looks good.
That's a big egg too.
I like it though, it's where your eye goes.
So this bacon looks like it's, pretty,
No, it's, that's too big too.
Well, right, but, so, let's just.
I'm just backseat Photshopping back here.
So let's shrink this one down a little bit too.
There we go.
And so because of, how nicely this wood background works, I just used the marque select to drag out around this and if you look at our mask, it's a really, just a really not bacon shaped mask. But you can't really tell unless you start looking close. And that's where our second pass would clean up this edge.
Yeah that'd be a soft. We would be blending it back in. It's a pretty quick process when you do that. It depends what scene. Some scenes are forgiving. Some scenes are not. And you really have to get, sometimes I'll have to dig into my very clinical Photoshop techniques to make these happen. Most of the time I just don't. Let's do, let's do the syrup. Let's get those going.
Do we wanna work on the syrup or the plate?
Let's do syrup first. Let's get everything. Syrup. Is that how you say it? Syrup (laughing).
So, let's look at our syrup. So that actually comes,
That's our bacon syrup right there.
I wouldn't, you know, the person who talked about the syrup coming off the pancake had a pretty valid point. So, I was actually, the original sketch we had had syrup in the air, separate from everything. So all the components were away from each other and not touching. There was a globs of syrup flying everywhere. There were globs of pancakes. But I think if we're gonna commit to syrup dripping off something because we had such a good splash that made us go that direction, that now I think it would be, it would have benefited us to at least have a few that did have some syrup on it. But then you have to match that to, you have to match the syrup dripping of the pancake to an actual shot of syrup being pulled up. So those have to match. So the chances of that are very slim. So what I would do is I would mount the pancake, and the pour syrup on the pancake, and let it drip off as it would. Maybe warp it a little bit so it has a little wave to it. But that, that's not the direction we were originally going. We were pulled into this tangent just simply because, hey, that would look really good dripping off the bacon. So maybe the bacon got a bunch of syrup. But I think it would have been better to have clumps of bacon, which requires a lot of force when you're pulling it. So I would have held the syrup and just flung it into the air. So it actually breaks apart from one another. And you actually get those globules. But that would definitely hit the ceiling here. So I don't wanna be cleaning syrup off my ceiling.
Yeah so, the rough mask showed that it doesn't really line up quite right. So I just went into liquefy, and again, you don't wanna do a ton but I can sort of pull it up to match the bacon a little more. And that'll save us some time later. So, pull it up.
And be careful that, some of those drips are on the wall and some are in the air. So you don't want the ones on the right that are dripping down behind that egg because that is wall, that is wall syrup. That is not air syrup. And then when you're, I mean when you're done with one of these images I have to go through it 100%. Just like in my landscape stuff, where there's sensor dust. One piece of sensor dust destroys a fine art print. Period. It just destroys it. You cannot use it. So I have to go it 100%. Quadrant by quadrant by quadrant. And make sure that any Photoshop work that I did is legitimate and perfect. And it's just, it's worth your while to just take it, step back from your image, come back to it, and really, just see it with fresh eyes. And make sure that you're not missing something. 'Cause, you, when you're doing any compositing you have to be aware of the color cast and reflections that would occur in real life. And you have to re, you have to introduce shadows. If things are too close to one another, you would have to introduce shadows that would appear had they been next to each other in real life. So you need to understand that. I usually just burn it down a little bit in Photoshop. But there's also other methods that a little bit more I think believable than just simply burning. I like to burn the shadows, not the midtones as much. Okay. That's not bad. I'd just eliminate that. And there's nothing, the thing is there's nothing to hide behind as far as this syrup goes. I would actually either cut, I would either cut the lower portion of the syrup away from behind the pancake like that. Not a bad idea. Or I, if a piece of plate happens to be, so I would leave it for now.
I think we leave it. And try to fill it, fill that with a plate.
Yeah. I like that better.
So there's some syrup. Do we wanna add any other? That?
Let's do that.
The truth is, in fact I would blend that all the way down to the base of the container. Except for, no behind that pancake. Yeah. Now physics are in play. We're doing this because it looks nice. Physics would not allow this to happen. You're not gonna drop something, and have the syrup come away from, it would actually be coming up from the pancake. So, we would actually probably inverse this, I mean invert it, or throw it on the pancake. But this, a lot of this you have to preconceptualize. 'Cause we were, a lot of this is being determined by the fact that we weren't able to get good globs of the syrup in the air. When you pull it like this it takes a lot of times, and a lot of force to get those globules that we're looking for that would be separate. So this is kind of a cool little, it kind of looks like it was broken from the bottom up. Or even if we inverted it, if we tilted it upside down, it looked like you threw it on the ceiling. So there's things that we can do to this. But let's get the plate in there. And see what happens.
Yeah. So I'm, you know, I'm just bouncing back and forth. And I think that once we get this plate in that, this stream right here, is going to blend really nicely into the back of that plate.
Yeah. Let's do it.
We'll make it happen. And then we'll.
So. Let's just get a smallish brush. And, mask that in, because everything, you know, our exposure stayed pretty much the same,
I don't know what that is.
Is that just the nature of the, no. It's something, oh it's,
That's on this layer. Yeah.
You always get, when you work this way you get mask debris.
Right. So always keeping an eye on all our various masks to find where stuff went.
Work clean and work slow.
So this bottom pancake does look a little out of place here.
Yeah. And this is, this is something, I mean, 'cause that could be there. There's nothing that says that shouldn't be there. So it does, I think it might be the, what is it about it that?
I, personally, I feel like it doesn't interact quite right with the shattered plate like everything else does. But just pulling up a little bit helped.
Now can we still get rid of that stream from behind the?
And have it be believable?
'Cause it really has to show from underneath the pancake. A lot of this has to do, I think it has to do with the way we cut it out. And I think it, it looks like it has a halo around it a little bit. I think that's one of the reasons.
Yeah. I think it's just, it's not a very precise cut out at this point.
I think that's what's happening. If it were a little blurrier, it wouldn't look so cutty. That can be the difference between a believable and an unbelievable, you know, just, I don't think, the pancake wouldn't create any shadows or color casts around the surrounding. So what it really is I think it's just the cutout that we've done.
Yeah. It's not a real fantastic. It's a real quick cutout.
I think it actually looks okay there because there's no plate, if this, if the right side chunk, the big chunk of plate, were on the left, you wouldn't, it wouldn't work. I think because of that it does. So let's crop it in. Let's kind of just crop it in. And show, I wanna get, everything out of the border. And we'll kind of go semi-final with with. And I'd go a little higher so the egg will, yeah, this will be a really tall image but.
Come in a little tighter here, and make sure, you know, we're not getting the front of the tile but we're also not cutting off too much and having the plate interacting poorly with the bottom edge of the frame.
That's a lot of syrup coming off that (laughing). That is a lot. All right. So yeah, that's kind of where we ended up. It's quick and fast. But that's kind of what our vision was, minus the syrup, I think, is, we got very close to that. And, the thing is, you can also keep a stock library of splashes. I have tons of splashes on black. You can knock out the black and bring those into any image that you have. So milk shots especially. I have a whole library of smoke images. If they're shot on black, you can convincingly screen them into Photoshop. So, not all the time. But sometimes. So I have a library of those that I'll bring in. So if we do run into trouble, I've got somewhere to go and pieces of things. It's a big library so I can go in and just put it in. So if we happen to not shoot something, which is rare, we have it. I don't have a syrup catalog though, so that's not gonna help us. So yeah, I think, I think we're there on both of the images. I kind of just wanna, I really wanna sum up kind of where we are now and where you can take this as photographers. At least based on the stuff that you were able to absorb today. I know that having the class will allow you to kind of go back and research things and see what we did. The mistakes we made especially. Which I think are way more valuable than the successes, especially in splash photography. So, the, this is, this is, as a business, I'm starting to get known for liquids, and splashes and crashes. And I think that is good and bad. Because I really need to continue to market myself as a food photographer first, and a splash and crash specialist second. Especially being in Seattle. Because there are a lot them. There's one in Toronto. And there's one in New York who's very good. There aren't many on the west coast who specialize in that. And I consider myself becoming a specialist in that area. But that's only 10%, 15% of what we shoot. So it's important to maintain, you don't, you don't wanna make the leap and become just known for that and on, especially in this city. If you're in New York, you can be hyper specialized. And it's not a problem at all. Many photographers are. Out here we have to be, we have to be good at packaging to get clients. We have to be good at everything from motion all the way to still images. From splashes and crashes to just still life. And we have to execute them perfectly on command. And that allows people to say, hey, well, let's come out. The city's a wonderful place to visit. People like coming out here. And so it's not hard to get them out here. But we need to be able to provide the entire package, from motion all the way to these conceptual images. Cinemagraphs. Basic food shots. But hopefully what you've, what you've learned here is of value and that you can kind of, from your opinion do you think that you could go home and at least capture something? If you, if you get a hold of one of these smaller strobes, could you capture something in motion with some accuracy? I think that it's fair to say, I mean I think we've at least covered enough to where you could go out and do that. I actually like, the park idea. And I might go out this weekend and try it out. Where we, we get some natural light stuff. 'Cause that was a lot of fun. People will look at you funny though so. If you start throwing water in the middle of a field, you'll get some great shots but you'll get some weird looks too. (laughing) So, yeah, I just, I just, I kinda wanna leave you with just to be inspired by all this. It's a lot of fun. It can be really tedious. We can be back here sweating sometimes. But more often than not we're having tons of fun doing this. And, at least, we've been doing it for a while. So we know, our, the most fun that we have is in the problem solving stage. When we get a, when we get a file, it's actually more fun that throwing a plate. When I get a, when I get a layout from an ad agency that says we wanna do this kind of fun image. My first, the most excited I get is when I figure out how we're gonna solve all the problems that I know are coming. How do we get this to do this? And we have to think about it much longer than we did on this set. But, I think the goal of this class is just to really give the kind of beginner at least a leg up. 'Cause we wanna make you aware of how far this goes. 'Cause maybe you do wanna pursue it. I mean this, you wanna make this part of your repertoire. How far you take it is up to you. But at least you can offer it. And start to explore this if you already shoot food or even products. Splashes translate to product really well. To perfumes. To soap especially. That's a different, we don't do a lot of paint splashes. Because we're not set up for it. We can do it. We just don't do as much. 'Cause we are food shooters. We're not products as much. So if you're products, that's great. I, even if you're a wedding photographer, you can actually employ this by getting milk in a really bright scenario and creating a veil that goes off forever with milk. That's not something you would do at every wedding. But if you were so inclined, you could create a milk veil in natural light. You could go that far. So, there's a lot of places you could take this. Just, even pursuing this in general. Even if you're not a food photographer, gets you thinking about camera settings. It really gets you thinking about your flash. Before I did splashes, I just was very utilitarian in my knowledge of how flashes truly worked. But when you do this, you start to understand flash durations on a very intimate level. And, really understand how your gear works intricately because there's no room for error. And you start to understand depth of field, where to focus, how to work with a digital tech even tighter. This stuff really forces you to think on many levels at once. But at the same time, it's pretty simple. You're just trying to capture, as long as your settings are right, and I've given you the information today, you toy around with it until you get it. And once you get it, you start to work on your style. And once you have a style within splashes, repeat, repeat, repeat. And you'll be successful. I judge a lot of contests. The ICP culinary conference I've done the last couple years with other food photographers who I really respect. The images that always end up in the finals are the ones, have you seen the image where the guy is like making pizza dough and flinging flour everywhere? Or clapping his hands? I mean the hand clap, we've actually eliminated those from the contest so don't enter hand clap flour, like when you're just throwing flour, and like some guy in an apron is, we see those a lot. And they usually do really well. But we're kind of just, not another one of those. I like to combine flour where it's, where it tells a story yeah. Because the, the sky is the limit with this. You could create a scenario where you're actually in a kitchen. It's not just as stark as the images that we created with the basic backdrops. You could have a real kitchen and if you have enough power and enough light, that's really the key here, you can create environments where somebody is, is working with pizza dough, or, and somebody's pouring the olive oil and there's multiple things going on at once. I love shots that involve talent. I just don't shoot a lot of people. So, I love shots that are really conceptualized. But involve things that really had to work together. And it's really a house of cards where if one thing falls it all, but when it works, it's really nice to see. So, there is, this, this is really just an exercise in being better at photography in general. This doesn't, this class doesn't specialize it may seem on the surface. It just makes you a better photographer to understand this period. You should understand this. Even at a basic, basic level. How to handle larger strobes. How to really get the most out of those strobes. 'Cause that's where I started out. And that's where I might experiment again. Just breaking it all down and saying, let's start from scratch. Let's build something new instead of just doing the same, a similar lighting setup for all. So I'm always thinking about that. And, so that's what keeps me excited about this business.