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Oil & Water
This is a project I like to revisit every summer. I visited the local consignment stores and picked up a nice clear glass bowl and the brightest patterned shirt I could find. If you decide to try this project, here's a few tips:
1. Put your camera on manual focus and try to stay in one spot. (I used my tripod for this shoot) Let the patterns come to you.
2. Use a shallow depth of field. You don't want the patterns in the background detracting from the oil patterns.
3. Shoot fast! The oil will start to come together fairly quickly. Eventually, it will all come together as one sheet of oil on top of the water.
An attempt to control the elements! Here is one very easy way to add a fog-like element to your images. This is only a few examples. A piece of advice, the added fog will mess with your settings. Once you get your shot in focus, turn off auto focus before fogging over your lens. Also, the fog will add more light, so you will probably have to increase your shutter speed or narrow your aperture. Most important, have fun!
First, you will need an image you would like to use to create your watermark. If you would like to use your signature, try writing it large on a blank piece of white paper with a fine-tip black Sharpie. Your image will need to be black and white to work right. In this case, I'm going to use my logo. Once you've got it, open up Photoshop, then go to File>Open and locate your image.
Once you have your image up, make sure it is nice and clean. Remember, anything that is black will show up in your watermark. The white background will be transparent, so there is no need to try and remove it.
You will want a fairly large image for your watermark. It is easy to make smaller, but will get distorted if you try to make it larger. However, you don't want it too large or it can be difficult to work with. On the menu bar, go to Image>Image Size.
Once the Image Size screen opens, you can adjust the width or height. Here, I changed the width to 1500 pixels. That is usually a fairly good size for the images I make. Also, note the resolution. I kept it on the high end of 300 Pixels/Inch. That should keep it nice and clean. Be careful not to go with too low a resolution. I would suggest 170 or higher.
Now, you're ready to create your watermark. On the menu bar, click on Edit and go down to Define Brush Preset.
Give your brush a name. It should be easy for you to find it when you need it, but I suggest giving your watermark a unique name.
Now, you're ready to use your newly created watermark! Open an image you would like to use. Select the Brush Tool from your toolbar.
When the Brush Presets box opens, scroll down to the bottom. Your watermark should appear at the very bottom.
You will probably want to make some adjustments once you place your watermark, so click on the "Create a new layer" icon at the bottom of your layers panel. This will place your watermark on its own layer and not effect the main image.
Now, all you have to do is click your mouse once to place your watermark.
If you find your watermark too distracting, adjust the Opacity at the top right corner of the Layers panel. In this case, I went with 50%.
If you like, you can set the color of your watermark. Click on the Set foreground color box, and choose a color from the dialog box that comes up.
You can also adjust the size of your watermark. Select the brush tool, then click on the drop down arrow in the Brush Preset box. Here you can either type in a size or use the Size slider.
Once you get the size and color you would like to use, locate where you would like to place your watermark and click your mouse once. Because it is on its own layer, you can move it around with the Move tool at the top of your tool bar until you are satisfied with its placement. To resize your watermark, hold down the Control and T keys at the same time. Your watermark will appear with handles you can use. When you have it sized, just hit the Enter key.
Before you save your image with the watermark, you will need to bring the two layers into one. On the menu bar, click on Layers and scroll down to Flatten Image. I suggest using File>Save As to save your image. This way, you can rename your image and keep the original in tact.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It is the process of combining several photos into one to make for a stronger, or more artistic, image. It isn't something I do a lot of because it is very easy to overdo it and your images begin to look unreal. Sometimes, though, it can be a very useful tool in poor lighting situations. Read on to learn more.
According to my camera's meter, this image is exposed correctly. It was reading off the truck which looks okay. Not great, but I could add some contrast and other adjustments to make it better. Notice that the clouds are pretty washed out. I really wanted to include them in the photo, which is why I shot it at the angle I did. Improving the truck part, though, would overexpose the sky even more and I would lose most of the detail in the clouds.
Therefore, I decided to create an HDR image where I would combine three exposures into one single image. After doing some experimenting, I decided that a single f-stop on either side would get me the effect I wanted. So, I shot one with the correct exposure, one under-exposed, and one over-exposed. Now, I was ready to combine the images in Photoshop.
After I downloaded my camera, I viewed them in Lightroom so I could see them larger and double check that they would work for me. I made a note of the three images I was going to use and moved them into a separate folder so they would be easier to find. At this point I hadn't done any editing to the images. Once this was done, I opened Photoshop, then went to File>Automate>Merge to HDR Pro.
To find the images, I clicked on the Browse button and opened the folder where I had saved my images earlier.
I selected the three images, then clicked OK.
The images show up in the Files window. I would highly recommend checking the Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images box. Even if I had used a tripod, I still would use this. Even the smallest movement could throw off the image. After clicking OK it can take a little while for the next window to open. Sometimes even several minutes.
This is the Merge to HDR window. There are quite a few options here. At the bottom left are the three images. If you decide you don't actually need one of them, you can uncheck the box. Down the right side are a lot of editing options. You can play with these to improve your image (in this example the truck looks a little dull). I prefer to do my editing in Photoshop so my edits can be adjusted later if I need to. I did check the Remove ghosts box, though. This helps to align things a little more and also compensates for anything in the image that might be moving. In this case, the weeds growing around the truck. Then, click OK. Again, this might take a little bit to open back up in Photoshop.
As noted earlier, the HDR image made the truck look a little dull. So, the first thing I did was add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. I brought the Brightness down a little and increased the Contrast quite a bit.
The truck was still looking a little dark and dreary, so I added a Curves adjustment layer. I brought down the brights and darks and increased the mid-levels. This really made the image more vibrant with quite a bit more contrast. I like how this looks, but I decided to take it one step further.
The last thing I did was add a Black and White adjustment layer. On this layer, I applied the High Contrast Red filter. This one only adjusted the truck and a little bit of the wood fence while leaving the other areas alone. This is why I prefer to do my editing in Photoshop. If I decide I don't like it in Black and White, I can either hide or delete that adjustment layer. Or, I can make more adjustments to the other layers. Had I made any changes in the Merge to HDR window, I would have had to start over if I didn't like how it came out.