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How to achieve this style

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Old 03-13-2011, 01:17 PM
spiewak spiewak is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Poland
Posts: 2
How to achieve this style

I’ve been with you for quite a long time but it is my first post here, so:

Hello everyone!

I feel like doing some “darker” photos and I’ve found a style I’d like to try to imitate:

Let’s take a look on a photo:
This photo
or, should this link not work:
Another link

So far I found a few simple steps:
The whole image consists of: (a) the actual photo, (b) the “smoke” layer. In many other there are also backgrounds added.
Let’s look at the actual photo (you can try to repeat it on any standard portrait photo just to see the result):

The first thing is narrowed output levels, roughly to 15-175. This step is quite obvious.

Then we can imitate heavy yellow-greenish cast: in a “sample area” on girl’s shoulder we have: Cyan: 42%, Magenta: 46% and Yellow: 67%.
I tried to imitate this with curves, but with no satisfactory result.
Then I’ve found (well, it was rather my wife then me…) a better approach:
1. Desaturate image with a channel mixer: output gray, Red 50%, Green 50%, Blue 0%. Reduce opacity to about 40% - such a desaturation seems to make a photo to catch new colors more easily.
2. Add photographic filter layer with a yellow filter with 50% density over the channel mixer layer.
3. You can add some more red with another filter or curves, if necessary.

Well, it’s time for some questions:
1. Am I missing anything obvious and important in this photo?
2. Is there a better way for doing such an effect?
3. There are plenty of free backgrounds available. But where can I found such a subtle smoke that can be used as mask? I’ve googled for it for some time… Other masks are also welcome…
I’m eager to take a few such photos but I’d like to avoid getting stuck in post-processing.

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Old 03-13-2011, 04:15 PM
michaelbs michaelbs is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 53
Re: How to achieve this style

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Old 03-15-2011, 10:01 AM
thehjj thehjj is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 39
Re: How to achieve this style

I think you're getting hung up on the 'smoke texture'. I don't the texture is smoke, I think it's just a texture. Regular textures are everywhere. You can find tons of them online or shoot your own. I also think that the background you say were done in post is just the texture layer on the solid background that was captured in camera.
Do you have any examples of what your process has yielded?
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:59 PM
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Nasturtium Nasturtium is offline
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Re: How to achieve this style

better way? The best way is the one you understand.

I would do this;

choose the red channel as a mask
use this mask on a curves layer & then grab the blue channel and pull it down to warm up her skin (this is very similar to you channel adjustment)
then I'd make an empty curves layer and change it's blending mode to overlay or softlight (this is similar to your output adjustments)

then I'd run the softar action from here. I always apply the green channel to a mask on the blurred top layer this creates.

and last I'd use a grunge texture like this one. I'd mess with the blending modes to get the desired effect (probably a reduced opacity overlay and/or multiply).

That's how I'd do it.

HTH - Nancy

edited to add. Now! Look what you started, lol. There's probably at least six ways to do this or anything in Photoshop. A quick way is to make a gradient map layer with the blending mode 'softlight' and choose the pastel gradient; Brown, Tan, Beige. Link to finished picture.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tut-windswept-smaller-90k-960px-wide.jpg (90.6 KB, 76 views)

Last edited by Nasturtium; 03-15-2011 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 03-16-2011, 12:39 PM
spiewak spiewak is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Poland
Posts: 2
Re: How to achieve this style

Great thanks for help!

1. „Smoke texture”: You’re perfectly right. Indeed, I wasted too much time trying to find smoke mask or render one. Yesterday, I took your advice and tried a normal texture. Some stone ones gave interesting effect but far from the original. Anyway, plenty choices to try.
2. I don’t quite understand what you wrote about the background. Some of the photos seem to have one added, I didn’t dwell on the subject as adding a dark background in a dark photo is a fairly simple task.
As for the results: I tried the process on plain images just to check if I’m able to get anywhere close to the style I’d like to imitate. The results aren’t worth publishing, it was a test before I try to take some photos in this mood. After all, it is the photo that is the most important here and deserves careful choice of props.

Nasturtium: You are great!
Yesterday I tried to reproduce your steps, with no satisfactory results, however. Today I saw the new part of the post, looked at the diagram you attached and I finally was successful. Now I have to sit for some time and play with your techniques. And thanks for the link to background, the texture has a wonderful effect.

When I take a photo for this processing and it is worth publishing, I’ll post it also here. Unfortunately, it has to wait at least till the weekend.

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