Hi guys!

Here we are to another episode of my photographic blog!

Today I restart with the Ballerina project!! But this time it’s not a simple photo of Giada (my ballerina who I always thank for letting me do these experiments) but for a photographic composite in which I truly put everything I know about postproduction.. At the moment I think this is the most difficult photos (in postproduction) I’ve ever done, and for the result I have to thank Aaron Nace and his creature Phlearn, a website on which everyday (5 days a week) he publishes videos in which he teaches everything he knows about Photoshop. Thanks Aaron (I’m sure you’ll read this post on my blog).

But let us come to the photo!! Well.. let’s start from the idea: the hand of a puppeteer who masters with the wires the ballerina, all in a dark atmosphere. Obviously we’ll need two photos, the one of the ballerina and the one of the hand.

Given the dark atmosphere of the photo the background of the basic shots is black and not white.. always remember that if you already know that the final result will be on dark tones you have to shoot on dark background, while if it is on light tones, it is necessary to shoot in a light background, even if the result will be cut!

Let us start from the photo of the ballerina. The lighting scheme is very simple: a softbox on the top right and a reflector low left, which has the foundamental function to lighten the tense leg of Giada, which would otherwise be in shade because of the shadows project by the tutù.

On the flash I positioned a 1/4 CTO (color to orange) gel in order to give a little of warmth to the skin of Giada. Once I selected and cut her figure in postproduction this is the result

Now it arrives the moment of the hand photo.. At first I tried with my hand, but then I saw it was too delicate, with too thin fingers, and so it was not appropriate for this photo. But the hand of my father would have been perfect! It is big, callous, with a story to tell.. I take 5 strings and attach to them some little weigths at the bottom (in particular, fishing plumments which weight 20 g, the big ones to understand..). At this point I put a string around every finger and we start with the photos. Obviously when preparing a composite it is foundamental that the light of all the elements is the same. Therefore also for the hand photo I positioned a softbox high on the right. It would not have sense if the ballerina was lightened from the right and the hand from the left! (ok it’s obvious, but often in the ardor of preparing the photos it is very simple to do errors like this and find all the photos with different lighting). Obviously also here a black background was necessary, and for that I took a simple black sheet. Here you are the photo of the hand:

And now it comes the beauty.. i.e. merge the two photos in postproduction in order to make them seem the same.. I tell you immediatly that it has not been simple, almost for me.. but at the end I got it.. First of all even if the two photos were lightened in the same way the light difference was high. To understand if in a composite the two photos have the same lighting (not only direction, but quality and intensity) I found very useful an advice given on phlearn, i.e. to put the two images togheter and convert in black and white for a moment. The black and white allows one to evaluate only the differences of lighting, not considering color, saturation etc. With this technique I discovered that the hand was a little darker than the ballerina, so I made an adjustment layer to darken the ballerina a bit. At this point I came back to color. I had to extend the strings and “tie” them to Giada’s limbs, and since here no problems.. The difficulty came with the string tied to the middle finger, which was in a completely wrong direction to tie to the foot on the ground of Giada. In this case it has been necessary to move it on the right, operation that perhaps for a lot of you is simple, but for me it was not!

At this point it has been sufficient to add a blue background with a texture and play with the tones. Here you are the final result of my work:

What do you think about it guys? Do you like the final result? I wait for comments!!

Next week I will restart with the video guide for strobist people in italian!

See you later!


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