Another rainy day…. (Cinemagraph)

What’s one to do with weather like that?


Urban Fantasy: A Voyage over Sunset Boulevard (plus mini-tutorial)

So I’m supposed to think of something called “urban fantasy”.

1 photoshoot, 14 different photos, 14 hours later, I end up with this,
A Voyage over Sunset Boulevard
(click on the image to go to my flickr, where it’s bigger!)

The astute amongst you would have realised I’m a little anachronistic here – merging both Noir elements (the city, the period clothes) with Steampunk technology. You be the judge if this little experiment worked. I really love those two genres! Also, some people have said I cannot possibly pull off the 50s era noir look, I’ll wager I didn’t do too badly here did I. 🙂

It’s not perfect. Had I the time I would have loved to work on the city until it really popped as a Noir/Steampunk aesthetic city. But I’ve already spent quite a bit of time on this and a backlog of unedited photos from a photoshoot beckon. At least this time I didn’t take as long as that infamous castle picture (that took upwards of 20 hours).

At the bottom of the post I’ve pasted thumbnails of the source images. Some are mine, some are taken from flickr, sxc, used under creative commons(non-commercial). Just to give a sense of scale of how much editing’s involved in something like that. It isn’t hard, just time-consuming. But the ‘fun’ of seeing building fantasy should drive the tedium away. Here’s some techniques I’ve used that you can try out. (WARNING – This assumes knowledge of basic photoshop techniques. You’ll at least need to know what is Masking.)

Understanding Light

Any good Photographer would tell you that light is one of the most (if not THE most) important aspect of Photography. Just because in compositions such as these you can place light wherever you want, doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Light needs to react reasonably with its surroundings. Shadows need to be cast in the right places, and rim lighting is needed to add depth to the image.

If you look at the buildings and the airships – I tried as much as possible to let sunlight fall in the right place. You can use the Burn tool to control your shadows, and the Dodge tool to lift the shadows.

In this example, the sun is coming from behind the airship. A wrong placement of shadows will make the airship look odd to be there, while a right placement of Shadows will really help with blending the images together.

(click to embiggen!)

If Burn tool doesn’t work for you, painting in shadows with the humble paintbrush tool (0% hardness) at about 30-50% opacity often does. If you do it on a separate layer you can find tune it the layer opacity!

Rim Light/Highlights
Highlights, or “adding rim light” as photographers know it, is absolutely essential to give your images the ‘3D’ blend. This is especially important for dark objects against a bright background.

What is this light? Well, because the Sun is such a huge & bright light source, light doesn’t exactly stop cleanly at the edges of objects, it “wraps around” them. In the following example you’ll see that without this highlighting “rim” the subject has that pasted onto the background look. With it, the subject blends much better!

(click to embiggen!)

You can easily achieve this effect by painting the light it with a paintbrush (again 0% hardness) set to SOFT LIGHT, and about 20-50% opacity, depending on the object that is highlighted.

Behold the Power of Adjustment Layers

How do you blend so many objects of various colours harmoniously? Here’s where CS4 & 5’s adjustment layers come in REALLY handy. Better yet, because each adjustment layer has it’s own layer mask, you can REALLY fine tune which parts of the image you want the adjustment to affect. Don’t worry about making mistakes, you can always dive back in and adjust the adjustments 😛

Here’s the before and after of applying a combination of adjustment layers.

(click to embiggen!)

Hope these few tips will inspire you to create your own fantasy scene!

Source Photos

Keitai Phenomenon: A Conceptual Series

The "Keitai Phenomenon” Collection

Keitai literally means Mobile Phone in Japanese.

This Project is Meant to effect of Keitai/Mobile Phones on our relationships with other people. Often these things look like they help us stay in touch – but there a personal touch lost in the process?

Meeting up - A Keitai Tea Party
Video conferencing is rad – you guys won’t need to worry about people showing up late or not being able to make it, because it’s practically guarenteed they’ll be able to attend from anywhere around the globe. It’s almost good enough to replace face-to-face meetings right?

Getting to Know Others: Facebook is Knowledge
You want to ‘catch up’ your friend. Before you facebook and mobile phones you would probably met up or ask him out. With FACEBOOK, there’s no more need! Just check out his facebook page! Why bother with arranging and fulfilling meet-ups any more right?

Sharing Experience: So Real it's almost Edible?
We love to share our experiences. Like the good food we find. We used to share such ‘finds’ (at least for me) by buying some of it to share. With cameras in mobile phones, you can just snap a shot and send it digitally. It’s way faster and almost as good – why bother buying and sharing anymore right?
Except that you can’t exactly eat a photo can you?

Family Relationships - Wired Up Family
It’s said that technology helps draw the the family closer by helping them stay in touch…

Zhiwei & Rachel’s Wedding

It’s a privilege to shoot for friends! As I’ve said before I’m very honoured to help out in Zhiwei & Rachel’s special day.

It was also quite an eye opening experience. No doubt I learnt a lot from the experience of constantly being aware of the little interactions that were taking place. A shared laugh, a little peck on the cheek, a lasting glance… these are the little expressions a for a moment but speak volumes about the feelings and emotions behind the hustle of the day’s activities.

So a warm thank-you to the wonderful couple for letting me be part of your special day. Wedding’s just a day, but marriage is a lifetime. May your marriage reflect the lasting covenant God has with his people, loving each other like how Christ loves the Church.  🙂

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

Zhiwei & Rachel's Wedding

See more on my flickr here.

Coming Soon: Zhiwei & Rachel

It’s wonderful to shoot a wedding for friends! Because you know them, there’s a sense that you’re really, intimately, sharing in their joy. You’re not just doing your job, you’re really sharing in the moments of their special day.

This one is gonna take a little longer than my usual 1-2 days turn over, what with 1000+ photos from the whole day and my already packed work schedule. Here’s a little teaser I’ve picked up so far.

Freeze Action: Mutual Attraction

Mutual Attraction

The objective was to freeze action – Instead of using a incredibly high shutter speed however, I freeze the water with flashes.

The title is a play on words. A kiss is a sign of attraction, as is the way the droplets seem to fly out of the surface towards it.

Strobist info:
580EX on wall 1/128 (Blue Gel)
Di866 on reflector 1/32 (Red Gel)
YN480 in Softbox 1/32 (1/4 CTO Gel)