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HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

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  • HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

    I've been re-checking out Steven Kleins work recently (I think Box (Dangin) does his retouching) and wondering about the process of achieving these looks non-destructively.

    http://models.com/work/balenciaga-ba...-ss-15/viewAll

    http://models.com/work/alexander-mcq...w-2014/viewAll

    Is it possible to get to something similar tonally using adjustment layers or is the only way by processing a pixel layer with various shadow/highlight, contrast, texture filters? What do you all think?
    Last edited by rl-retouch; 01-24-2015, 04:11 PM.

  • #2
    Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

    Well these images are too small to judge whether it's destructive or not but I have a bunch of hi-res of his campaigns and covers and despite a heavy processing they're of high quality.

    BUT you're focused on the retouch side whereas it's much more to it - you'll get a vastly different output from the same sensor without using a few fill lights and with them - that would be the first step to enhance the dynamic range before an image is taken. Sensor itself, too, something around 60 mpix will be more than enough to fiddle with the sliders safely.

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    • #3
      Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

      A bit higher res:
      http://cdn3.yoox.biz/balenciaga2/wp-...-with-logo.jpg

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      • #4
        Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

        Thanks! Do you happen to work at box?

        Anyway on closer inspection it looks like the background is a HDR composite, I think soft tone on the models could have been pulled from a phase one file though. Also can see some rough edges at the tonal breaks on the background at this res, particularly on the right models left hand shadow.

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        • #5
          Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

          I have no idea what you consider to be HDR, but you get this effect by pushing and pulling shadows and recover sliders in the RAW processor.

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          • #6
            Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

            Really though, regardless of shooting with fill lights and using larger sensor cameras, I was just wondering if the HDR effect is possible just using adjustment layers so that the effect can be adjusted as needed? It seems that even when using shadow masks created from the composite channel, the effect isn't quite the same as using the shadow slider in the shadow/highlight adjustment dialogue.

            Also on the HDR note, is there a good way of simulating the 'structure' slider in colour efex or silver efex software? There must be a way of just using photoshop to create this effect...

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            • #7
              Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

              Ok i know this can be done in raw, actually Capture one 8 now has pretty useful hi/shadow sliders that don't affect the other end as much. However i just think that if you output single HDR files, or output several different exposures and then brush them together as heavily as these images, and then start retouching on top, you're baking in a look which would be pretty impossible to undo or lessen later if you wish to. I just can't imagine that Dangin would work in a way that cannot be fiddled with later down the line.

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              • #8
                Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                You may want to look at how hdr is handled for VFX purposes. I don't have any good links for that, but it would be a better source of information. In photoshop it's a bit of a kludge. If you want to deal with data beyond a specific normalized range, you would have to work at 32 bpc. That will allow you to store both negative values and those that exceed 255.

                There are a few downsides, and keep in mind I'm not saying this is even a good idea. It's just otherwise you will have to merge layers to get an image that makes sense on screen.

                Downsides are photoshop's tools are more limited in that mode. If you lack creative cloud and use CS6 or anything prior to that, you would need the extended version to access paint tools in 32 bpc mode. It takes up more in the way of resources, so you may feel more performance bound. Not all layer types are available. There are other issues.

                Regarding Dangin, have you considered his team probably doesn't retouch these things using an HDR encoding? These are composite images, so the elements are likely to be kept in totally different layer groups. It looks to me like part of what you perceive is that the backgrounds were processed differently, although exposure may have been adjusted on the models.

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                • #9
                  Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                  Originally posted by klev View Post
                  Regarding Dangin, have you considered his team probably doesn't retouch these things using an HDR encoding? These are composite images, so the elements are likely to be kept in totally different layer groups. It looks to me like part of what you perceive is that the backgrounds were processed differently, although exposure may have been adjusted on the models.
                  +1

                  There was a talk here, back in... well I don't really remember but something around a year or two, anyway it was regarding some Meisel's fashion shoot in a subway when everything was sort of too perfect to be a one-shot. Shadows too detailed, poses too consistent and so on.

                  Now if you look closely on these samples they aren't of an unusual quality... they're just normal hi-end ad campaign spreads. You can really pull a lot of detail in C1 when using a premium large sensor before shadows start to get noisy.

                  And these campaign are most likely shot on a tripod, nice 11-16 of aperture and so on. Lots of dynamic range available to play with.

                  Tell you what. I have the latest iphone and I'm really amazed how much detail can it pull in low end when using the HDR mode which is effectively a 3-exposure bracketing of something like -1/0/+1 EV. Yes it does have an optical image stabilization but regardless - it's pretty impressive for a stupid phone.

                  In a nutshell, I'd say it's not an exotic voodoo going on but either a composite of the background and models (or a few more frames) or a simple shadows/highlights pull in Capture One and wrapped up in Photoshop for that signature High pass look albeit a little more balanced than the regular one (notice the halos around their heads).

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                  • #10
                    Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                    I don't know why do you insist that it is HDR.

                    It is not.

                    Have you been familiar with Photoshop, you would be able to create the same effect using Image\Adjustment\Shadow Highlights , just do what @Skooby recommended, you have many sliders to play with. Just apply selective masks at various densities for harmonious result. (I am not talking about the level of details or dynamic range, this is another story) - This discussion doesn't cover the link to the dark image.
                    Last edited by Aladdin; 01-25-2015, 03:20 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                      Originally posted by Aladdin View Post
                      I don't know why do you insist that it is HDR.

                      It is not.

                      Have you been familiar with Photoshop, you would be able to create the same effect using Image\Adjustment\Shadow Highlights , just do what @Skooby recommended, you have many sliders to play with. Just apply selective masks at various densities for harmonious result. (I am not talking about the level of details or dynamic range, this is another story) - This discussion doesn't cover the link to the dark image.
                      Exactly. Start with an image that has enough detail and simillar lighting and go from there. That's a general rule for any retouch job.

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                      • #12
                        Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                        Originally posted by insmac View Post
                        And these campaign are most likely shot on a tripod, nice 11-16 of aperture and so on. Lots of dynamic range available to play with.
                        Well sure. There's the detail where you actually see a benefit. Some of it is still clipped in processing, which was why I explained a bit about HDR encodings. You would typically process to something like Adobe 1998. Aside from a highly non-linear distribution of points that's applied at that point, any of the resulting points that fall out of gamut are clipped. With an HDR encoding they are "stored".

                        Originally posted by insmac View Post
                        Tell you what. I have the latest iphone and I'm really amazed how much detail can it pull in low end when using the HDR mode which is effectively a 3-exposure bracketing of something like -1/0/+1 EV. Yes it does have an optical image stabilization but regardless - it's pretty impressive for a stupid phone.
                        I've noticed, although it doesn't necessarily store the entire range after adjustments.

                        Originally posted by insmac View Post
                        In a nutshell, I'd say it's not an exotic voodoo going on but either a composite of the background and models (or a few more frames) or a simple shadows/highlights pull in Capture One and wrapped up in Photoshop for that signature High pass look albeit a little more balanced than the regular one (notice the halos around their heads).
                        I think the high pass or whatever was applied was probably done as a finishing effect. There is some haloing, which doesn't appear to be from web compression. You can really see it around the hair. I've mentioned this before, but you can sometimes see the same thing with gaussian blur. It just shows up as a dark edge rather than a light one. Actually that you see pronounced haloing is a pretty strong suggestion that they were not stored as HDRs (not that I thought they were) as otherwise it's unlikely that it would have been so pronounced.

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                        • #13
                          Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                          I like this threat, at least, it's not about skin retouching :P :P
                          rl-retouch: I understand what you say about "HDR". Lots of details and blance with Shadow/ Highlight, I try to find it for few years when look at Testino, Leibovitz, Sorentti work. But can't find anything. All of them was done by Dangin trick.
                          http://www.fashiongonerogue.com/alex...ing-kate-moss/

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                          • #14
                            Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                            The haloing is very pronounced, but not necessarily an artefact.
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              Re: HDR non destructively ala Steven Kelin

                              if that not HDR, any idea how to archive details like this?

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