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Is this over the top?

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  • Is this over the top?

    This is my first post here, and my question is not so much about technique, but rather, do you *believe* in this picture? Could it have been a photo out of the camera, or is it just too obviously fake?

    I can post the original photo later. The photoshopping is not very advanced, just Layers, Masks and Levels.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    The background looks like "render clouds" filter, and is very bright.


    • #3
      It never looks like it would have originated from a camera. Sorry to be blunt but in the interest of honesty and brevity...

      It might help if it were possible to post a picture of the original then we may offer suggestions to the changes we may make.

      It would also be of help if you could describe the picture you hoped to create. It looks like it started off being a photo of a Christmas procession.


      • #4
        No I don't beleive it is out of the camera. I also find the brightness of the background a little distracting. I bet if you lowered the saturation on the blue and darkened the background on the right side you would get to a point where it could look natural. I think that this is a neat photo, congratulations on catching the shot.

        Having said that, artists get good money doing work with a surreal quality to it, this has that kind of surreal quality that kind of works - the mood is almost consistent between the people and the background.



        • #5
          Hi Rexx

          I really really like what you've tried to do. Obviously, there are a lot of problems that I'm sure you already know, blown out highlights, blurring, the last character looks like a mummy. The black figures in front are ill defined with a glow around them that doesn't add anything (to me). In terms of achieving an ethereal, ritualistic feel, you've done a great job.



          • #6
            Good morning and thanks everybody!

            First of all, a Great Thank You to all of you commenting. I know I "broke the rules" by not saying anything about the image, but I was after your "gut reaction".

            @ Vikki:
            Render clouds - Correct! Plus Lighting and Satin

            No need to be sorry. You answered my question!

            Yes, it's surreal, but it seems according to you guys - over the top. I had a slight suspicion...

            Hmmm... Perhaps I should simply crop the last girl. Didn't occur to me! That might give me a 3:2 picture instead of 4:3 The highlights were blown in the original

            Yes, this is a "Santa Lucia" procession, which we celebrate here in Scandinavia (St Lucia was a Sicilian saint, and we're not even catholic up here - go figure...) on Dec 13. For those interested, check here

            The Norwegian text of the (Sicilian) song goes
            "Into our darkened house
            Striding with burning lights
            Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia"

            So -- this is the reason for the lighting. I want darkness to be ahead and light spreading behind. I chose blue by accident! It just looked good with the girls.

            The blue "fringes" that Duv doesn't like are also the part that I'm most dissatisfied with. I tried to balance the (wilfully) blurred foreground against the blue backgrund, but I had a feeling it didn't work, and I was right

            So -- now that I've explained the (cultural) background a bit, can I be so bold as to ask you nice people for improvement suggestions?

            The raw image:
            Lighting is the candlelight you see and the electric crown that "Santa Lucia" is wearing, nothing more. There are many more girls with candles following.
            1/2 sec; f2.8; ISO 342; 130mm focal length; hand held.
            Shooting conditions were ... um .. difficult! The song's rhythm is 3/4, meaning they stop between each step, and I tried to shoot while they were temporarily still.

            Photoshop technique. The three obvious layers plus some adjustment layers and masks. Lots of manual touch-up, obviously.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              Oops! How embarrassing!

              3:2 is a WIDER format than 4:3...


              • #8
                - Reduced background luminosity
                - Removed foreground blue colour
                - Removed "mummy"
                - Cropped

                Too little "air"? Did I crop too tight?

                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Since most of you guys are still fast asleep over there I have time to add a question and a concrete plea for advice.

                  I used Render clouds for a background, as I didn't want anything too smooth. I would appreciate better suggestions! As you can see from the original, that background had to go.


                  • #10
                    Hmmm, I'm already learning a lot here!

                    The question of background cannot be answered until I know what I want to achieve. Do I want a "dreamy" image or do I want one that may actually pass off as being taken there and then and can be shared with the other parents?

                    I'm going to a (stone) church now and could photograph its walls, but the procession was not in a church...


                    • #11
                      My good morning to you. Looks like I'm one of the first one's up. Your new post is much improved. I like the background you've chosen even better now that it is toned down. Also, way to go in getting rid of the ghosting in the procession. Just some thoughts. The 3rd girl seems at odds with the rest. Maybe try lightening her. You've cropped off some of the foreground woman's hair. Add back some hair fringes so we know it's people in the foreground. I also like the foreground candle in the original. Here are just some fast adjustments. Keep working on this image. It has nice potential.

                      Attached Files


                      • #12
                        I'm awake - kinda

                        It is so easy with Photoshop to pick a color that is unnaturally saturated. I desaturated the blue to about the same saturation as the skin, then added some stars where the clouds weren't.

                        Hope you like, Roger
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          I'm asleep - soon.

                          Roger, after all the trouble I've had removing noise (ISO 342, remember?), you go and add it all back in!!! ARGH!!!!

                          Looking fabulous!

                          And Duv, I've lightened girl #3, looks much better. And while I was at it, I fixed up Lucia herself a bit too. Same adjustment layer and mask, so why not?

                          Now I need to tidy up my layers before I continue. Lost track of what I'm doing...


                          • #14
                            Here's my attempt - masked figures, tweaked levels, added various blues together as background, then added an Auto FX Dreamy Photo (free plugin) layer at reduced opacity, and added a bit of motion blur to the image to match the original. And did a slightly different crop.
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Thanks folks, response overload!

                              I will probably not be able to follow up on this for at least a week (going to Portugal for an "oval" weekend), but each and every one of you has submitted valuable ideas that I will definitely be using in my next iteration on this image.

                              Hope to have something interesting to manipulate when I'm back from Lisbon!


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