Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays from the PixlBlog!



Click on any image to view a larger version.


I created this holiday scene from an image I shot last year in Australia while teaching Painter workshops in collaboration with Wacom Asia Pacific. I found this truck on a farm outside of Adelaide, South Australia in the Adelaide Hills.

Here is the photograph as originally shot:



I decided to transform this early morning image into a "day-for-night" shot. In order to explain how I created the day-for-night effect, as well as the lights, I'm going to rely on some images. Here goes...

I shot the original image in RAW. The RAW format is the equivalent of a digital negative and contains all of the data the camera sensor captured. In my case, this data is represented in 12 bits (Canon 5D). This extra data provides headroom for exposure and density adjustment.

I use the Adobe Raw Converter (ACR) to process my RAW files; however, the type of adjustments I made are possible in any RAW conversion application.

I did all of this in Photoshop CS3.

I significantly adjusted my exposure down 3 stops. I additionally adjusted the Color Temperature down to move it to a cooler rendition:



Here is the resulting color corrected image:



To add the lights, I began by drawing a loose lighting string on a separate layer using the underlying photo as a placement guide. I added some regularly spaced light receptacles along the string:



Using the lighting string layer as my guide, I created a new layer and used the Pen Tool to create a bulb shape. I duplicated and rotated this shape and placed individual copies at each light position relative to the lighting string receptacles. All of the resulting bulb layers were grouped together and merged into a single white light bulb layer.

I looked at several photographs of holiday lighting for reference. As a result, I decided to leave the actual bulbs more-or-less white as this is a typical result from long exposures of colored lights.

I duplicated this layer 2-3 times and blurred each layer to varying degrees. These stacked layers then provided glows for the above-positioned, in-register, lightbulb layer. The light bulb layer's blending mode was kept set to Normal.

All of the glow layer's blending mode were set to Screen. This makes the layer's glow elements act like a colored gel in relation to the underlying image. I subsequently colored the various glow elements by locking the transparency of each targeted glow layer, then airbrushing the desired color into the pre-existing white glow.

To add the environmental reflected light on nearby objects in the photo, I created another layer, set the blending mode to Screen, selected my desired color and airbrushed the light onto the appropriate area of the image:



I photographed the wreath in shade (to keep the lighting fairly non-directional). I processed the resulting RAW file in the same fashion as the original photo to get similar coloration. I cut out and composited the wreath into the scene and added a shadow to help it believably appear in the scene:



I also used the Magic Wand Tool to select the sky, then filled with a nighttime color gradation. I then selectively painted in a few stars:



Oh...and I retouched the license plate to say "PEACE"!

Happy Holidays!

-john

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