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Broken - BTS
I have been wanting to write up a BTS on this image for a while now. I finally did it. So if anyone is interested here is a link to the BTS

http://www.carlamcmahon.co.za/Behind-the-Scenes/Broken-Doll-behind-the-scenes
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Here are the 3 shots that I used to make my triptych.
I used my "studio" which is basically a tiny little room with huge windows.
The light is natural light coming from the right. (which may be slightly unbelievable as I put a textured "wall" on the right, but I am hoping that you can imagine a window just out of camera view. Which, if you look at the original shot, that is exactly how it is.
I cut out the background and left everything in from the skirting boards down
I moved the corners in a bit too
And then I used one texture to create the 3 walls.
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12/17/15
2 Photos - View album
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Here is a animation of how I created my HANG IN THERE shot for the +Chrysta Rae Scavenger Hunt
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BTS - The Hockey Player

I am a huge fan of Joel Grimes and he is an amazing tutor too.
My son is a talented hockey player (field hockey) and I have been wanting to create a contrasty sports portrait of him for a while now.

Background
The background was a single shot of a tunnel in Cape Town. I pulled back the highlights and filled in the shadows a bit. 
I duplicated the layer and flipped it and then used the mask tool to hide the left side to make the tunnel more symmetrical.
I used the stamp clone tool to make the two sides a little less identical
I added a texture layer to the background and changed the blend mode to overlay.
I added the same texture twice with different opacities and added a vignette to the texture layer.
Dodged and burned some areas along the pipes to try and make them stand out more as the texture seemed to flatten them a bit.

My son
I shot him with two elinchrom strobes (with soft boxes) on each side and one Canon 580EXii with an umbrella from the front.
I then processed him according to Joel Grimes post-edgy technique. To be honest I did not follow his tutorial step by step and I probably missed some steps or even added a few of my own. I did not want to replicate his method exactly (although I never could as he is a master) but I did want my own interpretation.
So I can't remember exactly what I did but it went something like this:

- duplicate the layer (as a smart object)
- bottom layer - reduce contrast completely in ACR, 
- top layer - change to BW and played around with the colour sliders (reds, yellows, orange - skin tones)
- change the blend mode to overlay
- merge the layers
- duplicate the layer
- blur the top layer (about 16% percent guassian blur)
- change to overlay
- change opacity to about 30%
- merge layers
- high pass - about 3/4 radius
- add a black and white adjustment layer (overlay)
- add a hue saturation layer (reduce reds)

To help my son “match” the colour of the background light, I created a merged layer of all the layers and then blurred that layer using average blur. Changed the blend mode to softlight and reduced the opacity until it looked okay.

I did a lot of dodging and burning and cloning to remove weird and ugly shadows on my son’s face that were exaggerated by the post processing. Next time I will pay closer attention to the lighting 


Effects
Using a soft brush at a low opacity and low flow (about 30%) I painted in “light” around my son.
Joel has an awesome technique where he makes these streaks of light by using the brush tool and shift key BUT no matter how hard I tried and have followed his instructions exactly it just does not work out for me. I either get weird skinny streaks or short fat ones and it is always just a mess. Maybe my brush settings or my Wacom tablet settings are wrong.
So I kind of just draw them free hand. 
I also added a silhouette shot of the sun behind my son and changed the blend mode to screen (so that the black disappeared - I  had to mask out some areas that showed the silhouette of the trees and power lines) 
When I placed my son in the background, he completely covered up the stairs. And there was a big hole of light behind him. (which I did like) but I thought I would see what it looked like if I cut out the stairs (I think I used the magnetic lasso tool) and enlarged them and put them behind him. I am not sure which one I prefer. I have included the image without the stairs too, so you can decide ;)

I love Joel Grime’s work. He is an amazing artist and he makes his technique look so effortless, it isn’t - lol
Have a look at his incredible portfolio http://joelgrimes.com/ #bog
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BTS - Hockey Player
6 Photos - View album
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For as long as I can remember I have always wanted a shot of a dandelion with the seeds blowing in the wind. I guess it comes from childhood memories where every time we saw a dandelion we would blow it and make a wish.

Before I knew much about  compositing, I attempted to get it all in one shot. So one day I set out with a very loyal friend of mine and we found a whole bunch of dandelions. My poor friend spent most the morning blowing every single dandelion we came across while I tried to capture it with my camera (and macro lens) pointed up to the sky, inches from her face.  Needless to say we were unsuccessful. Firstly the seeds don’t just blow away in a beautiful organised manner and secondly they sometimes don’t even come loose at all. My friend blew and blew until she was red in the face and very light headed. The 2nd picture is one of the 100s of unsuccessful images I took that day. 

Then, my sister asked me if I could photograph a dandelion with a blue/turquoise background so she could paint a picture of it for her office. 

So I set to work:

The dandelion that I found was bit “floppy” so I secured it to a toothpick and I combined two of the images to create the final one. 

For the background I used a teal fluffy or “furry” scatter cushion that I have in my living room. The third picture is a clearer view of the cushion background

For the flying seeds, I photographed each one individually, using tweezers in a clamp to hold each seed. With layers and masks, I masked in each seed and moved them around to where I wanted them to be. I blurred some of them, duplicated some of them and rotated and transformed them.

Finally I had the image I had always wanted and I submitted it to the +Chrysta Rae  Scavenger Hunt for the RULE OF THIRDS category.

After the album was released  +Nancy Levan  completely blew me away by asking me to upload the picture to my SmugMug website as she wanted to buy it. While being absolutely flattered and over the moon, I was completely stressed out that my masking techniques might show up in print, as I had not printed this picture yet. ( Actually I still have not, as my sister found another image to paint) 
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BTS - dandelion
5 Photos - View album
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Here are some BTS images for my ICE CREAM CONE shot for +Chrysta Rae Scavenger Hunt

The “ice cream” is a mixture of icing sugar (confectioners sugar) and ready made icing (frosting). It doesn’t melt and lasts for a long time (it does start to dry out a bit in warm weather)
The melting parts are made by mixing cold glue with the “ice cream”

The ice cream cone was photographed in natural light with the light coming from behind with two cardboard reflectors on either side.

All the sprinkles were photographed individually. Some in natural light under the same conditions as the “ice cream” and some with a flash lighting them from underneath. 

After I had added and placed each sprinkle (resized, and blurred and changed opacity if needed) I added a texture to the whole image

If you have any questions please feel free to ask .
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BTS - Ice Cream Cone
9 Photos - View album
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This is how I created my PERFECT SUMMER’S DAY shot for the +Chrysta Rae  Scavenger Hunt

First I must say that I did NOT create this photo in as organised manner as it may sound. I did not first get the background right, then add the subject, then add the butterflies, then the texture. I jumped around and adjusted different layers as I went along and went back and forth like that many times.

But for explanation purposes I will focus on one area at a time.

The background - it was a single exposure that I processed in LR. Then in PS I brightened the background, by duplicating and changing the blend mode to screen. I am sure there are many ways to do it and maybe that wasn’t the best. But everything I do is trial and error. I try something and if I like it, I keep it, if not I deleter it.
I also cloned out some of the bigger distracting darker grass mounds (I only did that after my daughter and all the butterflies were in place)

My daughter - I tried to shoot her with the light coming from the same direction as the background
To get her colour to match the colour in the background, I duplicated the background layer.
Created an average blur layer (Filter - Blur - average)
I moved that layer on top of Kelli and then clipped it to her layer so that it only affected her (Alt and click between the two layers)
I changed that layer to overlay and reduced the opacity until it looked okay. 

The butterflies -I printed different shapes and sizes of butterflies from the internet, and then my daughter and I spent one evening painting them all. 
Each butterfly was photographed separately at different angles and then extracted from the background in photoshop. 
I tried to get a decent swirl effect around my daughter using the brush tool. I drew it 100s of times to make the line look like it was swirling around her. and I just couldn’t get it right.
Then I started adding butterflies (the fun part) using the line for guidance.
I did duplicate quite a few of the butterflies but most of them were individually photographed. 
(The bottom right picture on the butterfly picture is a file I created of all the extracted butterflies each on a separate layer in case I ever want to use them again). 
I blurred the butterflies that were further away and I tried to match the focus of the butterfly with the focus of the background - depending where about they were. (something I did not achieve properly)


I love this picture and it is my favourite from this hunt but I am also not happy with it (technically) as I don’t think the butterflies are positioned in the right place, or sized correctly or even blurred correctly. But I still have my file with all the butterfly layers I may go back and tweak it sometime. 
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BTS - Summer's day
4 Photos - View album
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A BTS of the progression of my boxer shot. 
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These are the images that I used to create the CHILDHOOD MEMORY image.
 
Curtains and window - I masked out the background and the bars and extended the curtain inwards to cover the sides of the wall. I added a blue filter to make the light on the curtains seem a bit bluer

My niece - I actually used a number of photos to get to the final one. Mainly as a result of my lights not going off every time (due to flat batteries - very disorganised photographer I am) and because my niece was actually full of mischief and not very co-operative. She kept throwing her toys into the air, spinning her head, jumping up and down. Man I take my hat to family portrait photographers. 

The moon - this is actually a very old shot from a few years ago. I wanted to take a new moon shot during the timeframe of this hunt and when it was full moon, I tried a couple of nights in a row. But the moon was always completely clouded over.

The stork - I printed a picture of a stork from the internet and stuck it onto my soft box and took a photo of it. I wanted it to be an actual photo. I actually wanted to hand draw the stork myself but unfortunately my drawing skills are not that good. 

The trees - I changed the white balance in LR and brought up the shadows. Then imported it to PS  and duplicated the layer (to make it landscape orientation and not portrait) and cloned out any extra trees that I did not want. 

The clouds - these were an afterthought to break the starkness of the blue background and to disguise some banding issues in my sky. I often get terrible banding in areas of solid colour, especially when I add a gradient and I am still not sure if it is actually physically there or if the graphics card on my computer is going, and it just looks like it is there. When I look at the images on my Macbook they look fine but on my iMac I see terrible banding. 
I changed the blend mode of the clouds to soft light. 

Moon glow - I added a glow around the moon using a soft white brush and then I turned the opacity of that layer down low. And I might have added a gaussian blur. There are a few moon glow layers at various opacities and sizes. 

Trees - I wanted the moon behind the trees. So I made a copy of my tree layer and then selected out the tree. And I moved that layer on top of the moon so it looked like the moon was behind it. I then added another glow layer on top of the tree so that it kind of looked like the moon was lighting up that part of the tree 

Stars - I used a brush to make the stars. I am not sure if it was a standard PS brush or if I downloaded it from somewhere. There are a number of layers of stars. Some of them I added a gaussian blur to and reduced the opacity to make them seem further away. I also added a different colour filter to each star layer. But I don’t think that is very noticeable in the final image

It may sound complicated but it really wasn't, if you want to know something feel free to ask
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Here is animated GIF of the all shots I used for MY WORST HABIT in the +Chrysta Rae  Scavenger Hunt. 

I actually don’t think you can call indecision a habit, it is more like a characteristic or personality trait. Because if it was a habit I would use all my strength and willpower to QUIT IT.

The background - I photographed sand and then used photoshop cloning tool to make the green grass a bit more balance

The sign - I made it myself from a dial stick and plywood. I burnt and sanded down the wood to give it an old weathered look. And then I took the photo of the sign from above, standing on a ladder, using a wide angle lens to give it that disproportional effect.

Me - I first got my husband to take a picture of me from the same position on the ladder with the same lens, as I used for the sign. And I looked so disproportional and out of shape, it was scary. I tried to work with that image but every time my daughter walked passed my computer, she would burst out laughing and told me I looked like a big, fat “bobble head” You can ALWAYS count on an honest opinion from your children.
So I decided to reshoot it and much to my husbands irritation, I made him get up the ladder again. This time much, much higher using a standard lens. He had to stand on almost the top rung of the ladder while my daughter supported it. 

Words - the words and heart were added in PS (handwritten) I used the transform tool to change the perspective and it was quite difficult to get them to match up with the sign. I have since learnt a much easier method that I will definitely try next time. http://phlearn.com/add-text-anything-photoshop
I used layer styles to make the words look like they were engraved into the wood. 

Texture - I added various, texture and colour layers until I got the look I wanted
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