One Step At A Time

Home Photography Forums The Shark Tank One Step At A Time

This topic contains 30 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Graham Hart 2 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #395397

    Graham Hart
    Participant

    I posted this pic here because I'm hoping someone can help me with a blending problem. Further to my experiments with B&W lately, I have this shot of some stairs which is pretty boring by itself so I thought I'd compo an old man's silhouette into it to try and create some sort of ‘facing a challenge' type of theme. Problem is, he is too black. I cannot for the life of me work out how to select and blend him into the image in a more convincing fashion. I thought a solid colour layer would be the best way to change a jet black silhouette to a dark grey but I'm struggling to achieve an acceptable result. Anyone?

  • #395398

    beth
    Participant

    there's pretty good separation between him and the tones around him so try the magic wand in photoshop.  after getting your selection add a curves adjustment layer.  the mask should apply automatically.  adjust your blacks up and if there's some white edges pull your whites down.

  • #395399

    beth
    Participant

    i prefer the silhouette to be pitch black.  it's a bit more realistic, if you had lighter tones you'd see details rather than a silhouette.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  beth.
    • #395401

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Thanks Beth. I have the old man on a separate layer but I struggle when it comes to affecting one layer only and not the whole image. I then decided to merge all layers and try what you suggest but wasn't happy with the result. I agree darker is better but I just want to back it off a touch so it doesn't stand out as being the blackest thing in the image.

      • #395406

        beth
        Participant

        if he's already on a separate layer you can use any adjustment layer you want without worrying about a mask.  set the adjustment layer directly over top of the layer of the man and then make the adjustment layer a clipping mask (right click on the adjustment layer, select create clipping mask).  as a clipping mask it will only adjust the layer directly below it and not the rest of the image.

        edit: the solid color adjustment layer you tried to do earlier would work very well as a clipping mask.

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  beth.
        • #395582

          Graham Hart
          Participant

          A clipping mask? Who knew? Thanks so much for pointing this out to me Beth, I had no idea what a clipping mask was until now.

          Oh how I yearn for retirement so I have the time to actually read and study the 7 or 8 books and about 500 pdf's on Photoshop that I've bought or downloaded.

          • #395592

            beth
            Participant

            youtube.  i watch at work when there's no active incidents.

  • #395403

    billyspad
    Participant

    Graham duplicate the Man layer Ctrl/J than change blend mode of the duplicated layer to Screen. Paint with white at around 15%  brush opacity until you get grey shade you want. Further control and adjustment can be made thru the overall opacity of the layer.When man is the shade you want Ctrl/E to merge the layers. Using this method you can paint just around the outside of the silhouette leaving the center a darker shade for a more natural look.

    The screen layer thing is a simple way to dodge and burn using either black or white paint brush at low opacity. Think it also works with other blend modes but I just use Screen. My example is a bit strong so it clearly shows the effect. You will obviously be a little more subtle. Anyway hope this enables you to tell the story you wish to relate. Geez cannot believe I just said that lol

    Feathering one pixel around the guy will also help your blend. Select>Modify is easiest way. Let me know if your not sure of how this works.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  billyspad.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  billyspad.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  billyspad.
    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  billyspad.
  • #395417

    billyspad
    Participant

    Forgot to mention that I think the shot needs the guy to give it some interest. Song suggestion time? Glen Miller – Little man who wasn't there

    Last night I saw upon the stair
    A little man who wasn't there
    He wasn't there again today
    Oh, how I wish he'd go away…

    • #395499

      Robert Apple
      Moderator

      Jeesh Billy, from Captain Beefheart to Glen Miller, That song was actually based on a poem that was turned into a play, I remember our class doing this play in kindergarten, and we all had to memorize the poem.

      • #395547

        billyspad
        Participant

        Robert mate I think my musical tastes could be described as diverse and eclectic!

  • #395483

    Kent DuFault
    Participant

    I like the shot. I don't see him as being ‘too' black.

    • #395584

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Thanks Kent. He still seems to not quite blend in for me. I'm realising rather than making life easier, B&W brings it's own set of issues to deal with. It's a valuable learning for me to understand what the ‘black point' is all about. In hindsight, I would have chosen a picture of an old man and adjusted the light and contrast down rather than choose a totally black silhouette as I did here.

  • #395496

    Rob Eyers
    Participant

    I agree with Kent that he's not too black. There are other blacks in the image that are 0/0/0 (RGB & LAB) so he fits in.

    If you zoom in you can see that his cane protrudes over the step. It looks like he's walking away so I would remove the tip of the cane. Maybe add a small amount of noise to the figure too, to match the rest of the image.

    All said, I think you've done a good job with it Graham.

     

    • #395588

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Interesting Rob, I still see him as a little too black. I tried to find similar blacks visually but thought they weren't there? Perhaps its a monitor thing?

      Would you believe I actually roughly cropped a heap of pixels off the end of his cane which protruded even more over the step. I also flattened the bottom of his right foot which was too curved. I figured no one would zoom in and notice the finer details.
      I didn't account for inspector Rob! When will I learn!

      All fun aside though Rob, thanks for your input and advice. I really do appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

  • #395506

    Robert Apple
    Moderator

    I don't know that he is too black but he does look like a cut out reminiscent of Wiley Coyote running through a wall.

    What Rob said for one, the whole image has noise except for the man, there in  lies a great deal of the issue. but its blurry noise, also all the rest of the image has slightly blurry edges with a tinge of a halo from being back lit.

    I did a quick down and dirty edit which included isolating the man on his own layer and feathering the selection slightly , adding a bit of noise to the man and very lightly blurred it , dodged around his edges in the the shadows setting, and did a light blur around the edges using the lighten blend mode including all layers. All to try to duplicate the conditions and texture of the original photo. Subtle changes not big ones will get you there. I Spent all of 5 minutes on this example but you could do better spending a bit more time on it with the full res photo, Hope this helps Graham.

     

    • #395589

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      The Wile E Coyote reference to a cut-out is exactly what I was feeling about the silhouette Robert. After Rob's analysis of the black point, I think you have hit the nail on the head with regard to the noise/blur thing. I did try and play with the noise on the man layer but as mentioned earlier, I couldn't make any adjustment without it affecting the whole image.

      I have also cut and pasted your editing comments into my ‘How To' document for future reference. Many thanks. BTW, I think you've nailed it with your edit.

  • #395511

    Federico Alegria
    Participant

    Dunno about your question, but the shot looks interesting, this is one of those circumstances in which I would have sprinted those stairs in order to capture the scene bit more closer.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you'll get your answers from several Light Stalkers!

    • #395590

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Thanks Federico. There was no point sprinting up those stairs because there was no man there 🙂 It started out as practice for my B&W skills because of the light and shadow in the scene. Back home when viewed on my monitor, it just wasn't interesting enough….hence the silhouette layer addition.

  • #395581

    3pco
    Participant

    I like this kind of anonymous street shot. Nice composite.

    You don't want the old man to be a shade of grey, it'll never look natural. If it's not completely black there has to be a suggestion of features, at least, so you have to have that in your original.

    I think it looks fine in  0% black. (But, I would crop a bit from the bottom right corner to put the dude on the 1/3 intersection and the bannister on the thirds line).

    If you want to play with lightening him, isolate him on a separate layer, like behind a (feathered) mask. Then there are at least three good approaches I know of. 1. add a curves layer, clip it to the old man layer, and drag up on the curve; 2. add a curves layer (or any type of adjustment layer), clip it to the old man layer, and simply change it to screen mode, then adjust opacity (you'll lose some contrast, so play with the curve to recover it); 3. add a blank layer, change the blend mode to overlay or soft light, make the entire layer 50% grey (will be invisible), then paint on it with a white brush at very low flow to build up the dodge. I like the last method best because you can use colors to dodge, but it is more work. But actually, you don't need the old man on his own layer to use it.

    • #395591

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      More great information and advice. Thanks 3cpo. Yet more stuff for my intelligence file! Gonna have to try all three methods just for practice.

      I did play with the idea of cropping but it lessened the remote feeling of the man in the distance facing a big challenge before him (to get down all those stairs in one piece). I will revisit the idea with your suggestion in mind. Thanks.

  • #395593

    beth
    Participant

    @diripics have you done some research?  when i've worked on photoshop composites before i've looked at similar situations (preferably photos, not composites) to see how it should look.

    a quick google search on backlit silhouettes yielded this:

    https://pixnio.com/people/male-men/man-silhouette-backlit-dark-indoors-light

  • #395785

    Falxy
    Participant

    Hi Graham……………next time find the environment and wait for a suitable target!! 🙂

    life can be so much easier

    • #395848

      Roger Wehage
      Participant

      Hear, hear! Bring your dad along and send him up the steps.

    • #395876

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Good advice Falxy. Trouble is, I was paying by the minute for a hired electric scooter to get me around the city on this particular day so waiting around wasn't really my preference. Passing people were far and few between as the stairs ran alongside a university campus in the city and being a public holiday, all was quiet on the western front.

      I downloaded quite a few different silhouettes…old man, kid on bmx bike, ballerina, woman on a swing, mother with pram etc but the old man with walking stick seemed to fit the picture with all the steps in front of him. At the end of the day you are right though, capture the moment rather than create one in PP is always better. Cheers.

  • #395857

    Falxy
    Participant

    cmon Rog……doesnt have to be yer dad………….could be any old/young itinerant off the street or even dragged kicking and screaming from their front d0or…..so cmon again i implore that dads should not be solely targeted…………..mums,friends,enemies and acquaintances should all be targetted!! 🙂

  • #395864

    Mistyisle
    Participant

    What a marvellous thread, Graham!   Have just seen and skim read.  I will book-mark and come back to it.  However, I must pass on my little bit of learning.  I have had good success in competition with B&W comparatively speaking, locally and nationaly.  I have had a VERY successful amateur Auckland and National photographer push me in the direction of B&W a number of times, so it seems my choice of image relates pretty well in that direction.  However, my studied approach is to start with Nik Silver Efex and then, if necessary, to adjust from one of their presets.  Whenever, I do that, some of the presets seem to inappropriate that I wonder why they are there.  However, next time round, the one that seemed dumb works great.

    If you want to try Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, you can buy these days, or one of your friends or acquaintances may be able to pass the older version, which had been made free by Google.  That is the one I use ……………. and is an indispensible tool in my post-production.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Mistyisle.
    • #395877

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Thanks Jim. I have the free version and I did actually use it on this pic. I also scroll  through Luminar, Topaz and a whole bunch of free presets I've downloaded over time whenever I play with B&W. You're right though, I think Nik filters are one of the best sets. I'll upgrade to Pro 2 one day for sure.

  • #395941

    Frank
    Participant

    Hi Graham, Nice story telling photo.  Since you have man on a separate layer, select that layer then add the adjustment layer, “Selective Color” (it is at the bottom of the list).  As suggested above, clip it to the layer with the man.  The default has the color red in the small box.  Click on that box to open a list of colors and select black.  Then go to the black slider at the bottom of the column of sliders.  Moving that slider to the left will remove black from the black, or add white, and the man should change to, you guessed it, shades of grey.

    Next time instead of waiting for your father or some other guy to walk into the photo, take your tripod again, but also have a remote wireless shutter clicker.  Then you can put yourself in the photo wherever you want in whatever position you choose to be in.  I do this often and even carry a lightweight red rain jacket in my bag fever I want a man in red in the photo.

    • #395954

      Graham Hart
      Participant

      Thanks Frank. This is exactly what I was trying to do. Worked perfectly.

  • #395942

    Frank
    Participant

    Hi Graham, Nice story telling photo.  Since you have man on a separate layer, select that layer then add the adjustment layer, “Selective Color” (it is at the bottom of the list).  As suggested above, clip it to the layer with the man.  The default has the color red in the small box.  Click on that box to open a list of colors and select black.  Then go to the black slider at the bottom of the column of sliders.  Moving that slider to the left will remove black from the black, or add white, and the man should change to, you guessed it, shades of grey.

    Next time instead of waiting for your father or some other guy to walk into the photo, take your tripod again, but also have a remote wireless shutter clicker.  Then you can put yourself in the photo wherever you want in whatever position you choose to be in.  I do this often and even carry a lightweight red rain jacket in my bag if ever I want a man in red in the photo.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.